KOKOMO, Ind. — Kokomo Speedway has been a special place and the Kokomo Grand Prix has been a special race for Petry Motorsports.
In the last Kokomo Grand Prix held prior to Friday, in 2019, the team’s namesake, Scott Petry, captured his first career USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget victory as a car owner.
Less than two years later, Petry was a firsthand witness to one of his pilots, Emerson Axsom, experiencing his very own first career triumph with the series in the seat of one of his cars Friday.
The 16-year-old Axsom was dominant from start to finish, leading all 30 laps around the quarter-mile dirt oval in his Petry Motorsports/FK Rod Ends – Keizer Aluminum Wheels – Mobil 1/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota, a win which came in just his 23rd career USAC start.
Axsom cut his racing teeth in quarter midgets and the amount of success was immense, winning the 2016 USAC .25 Midget Light 160 Paved and USAC .25 Midget Formula Mod Paved championships before, ultimately, making the transition to micro sprints.
Just six days prior to Friday’s Kokomo Grand Prix opener, Axsom notched his first POWRi Midget win at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo.
Axsom started from the outside of the front row alongside polesitter Chris Windom, the defending USAC National Midget titlist.
No evidence of sweaty palms or any sort of intimidation was evident in Axsom who crossed over from the outside to the inside, swiping past Windom to grab the early lead into turn one. When Windom slid back by in turn three, Axsom responded in kind by driving under Windom at the exit of turn four to recapture the lead.
However, fourth-starting Daison Pursley doubled-up by sliding past both Windom and Axsom in one fell swoop in turn one on the second lap. Pursley’s maneuver proved short-lived, however, as Axsom raced back by Pursley at the bottom of turn three and quickly built up a 1.5-second advantage.
“I knew that if I got out front and could run my own race, we’d be good,” Axsom explained. “To pass Chris, he’s raced here a ton and he’s really good here, and I figured he’d slide me into one, so I was ready for that. Once I was able to cross him over, I just hit my marks and it worked out well from there.”
Axsom became the first “first-time” USAC National Midget feature winner since Thomas Meseraull in October of 2020.
Axsom was followed to the line by McIntosh, Windom, Justin Grant and Kofoid.
Brady Bacon won the companion sprint car feature.
To see full results, turn to the next page.