INDIANAPOLIS — Corey Day’s stunning USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series triumph during round five of Indiana Midget Week Wednesday night at Circle City Raceway carried with it echoes of a fallen superstar.
That feeling of déjà vu wasn’t surprising, however, when considering the team Day was driving for — as well as the company he surpassed by becoming the youngest winner in USAC midget history.
Driving the zMAX-sponsored No. 47bc for Clauson Marshall Racing, the team co-owned by Tim Clauson and Richard Marshall, Day led all 30 laps of the quarter-mile dirt track to win in his fifth USAC start.
Counting a pair of Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget League appearances prior to Indiana Midget Week, Day’s midweek score came in his seventh time behind the wheel of a national midget.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Day eclipsed former CMR driver Zeb Wise to reset the record for the youngest winner of a USAC national midget feature at 15 years, six months, 12 days old.
It was a combination of factors that left the Clovis, Calif., teenager lost for words in the pit area as he held the trophy in his arms Wednesday night.
“I really can’t believe we did this,” Day said. “I knew we had a good team behind us, but to win in only our fifth USAC race … I don’t know how you could have predicted that.”
Day is the son of well-known California sprint car racer Ronnie Day, who has taken up his family’s mantle of competing in dirt cars and succeeding in a hurry.
In his 410 sprint car debut in January at Arizona Speedway, during the inaugural Wild Wing Shootout, Corey Day made himself known quickly when he drove by Donny Schatz during heat race competition — and made the pass stick.
As it turned out, that was just a harbinger of things to come, but the younger Day tipped his family history could have tipped some people off as well.
“Man, it’s just a fun deal,” Day noted. “My dad raced sprint cars, but his dad owned a motorcycle shop before and they raced motorcycles in the past. My dad, before he ran sprint cars, was a professional flat-track motorcycle racer and ran the Miles and stuff like that. He was really good at that style of racing.
“He was really good in a sprint car, too, out in California and had some good showings with the [World of] Outlaws,” he continued. “Now, I think it’s definitely my turn. I feel like I’ve got to live up to a big name, but I wouldn’t want a better teacher. My dad and I, when I’m back home racing, it’s just him and I a lot of the time … and he’s one of the best out there. It’s definitely super cool to be able to do what we do.”
As he watched Day compete Wednesday night and trade sliders with fellow teenager Emerson Axsom for the lead, team owner Tim Clauson admitted it was almost like watching his late son — Bryan Clauson — with some of the veteran moves that Day utilized through the night.
“He’s wise beyond his years or his experience level in these cars,” Clauson said. “A lot of our vision with CMR is about who we see as the next big guy and finding partners who are willing to help us give a kid a chance that might not always be able to get an opportunity. Corey really fit that bill, from going back and watching him in micro sprints. I was introduced to him while he was still running restrictor races and driving for Jake Hagopian and watching some of the things that he did in the car, even at that age, impressed me. I just felt he was a very savvy race car driver.
“Fast-forward to when he was running in the 600s and running against the best guys in the country and you could still see that speed,” Clauson added. “In a 410 sprint car with very limited starts, what he’s doing in that realm is pretty incredible. So when we sat down and discussed one name that we wanted, the last name was a three-letter word. He was amazing to watch tonight; he never lost his composure.
“I think what he’s shown so far is just a glimpse of what this kid can do.”
When adding in two fast times during Indiana Midget Week to his feature win from Wednesday night, Day’s USAC midget record is stellar given its limited number of starts.
Day isn’t letting himself get too caught up in that, however, because he knows there’s more racing ahead of him — both during Indiana Midget Week and into the future.
“I definitely feel on top of the world right now, but I also don’t want to get a big head, because this sport is definitely made up of a bunch of ups and downs,” Day noted. “I may be at the top of it right now, but I’ve been at the very bottom of it also. I’m just trying to keep a level head of emotions and just cruise through this week.
“If we win, we’re happy, but if we don’t do well, we won’t get really down on ourselves either. This is just one highlight on a long road, but it’s one that I’m going to remember for a long time to come.”