HAUBSTADT, Ind. — Jacob Denney answered not one, but two slide jobs levied by Buddy Kofoid during the final five laps en route to capturing the opening round of the 19th annual USAC Indiana Midget Week series on Sunday night at Tri-State Speedway.
It was Denney’s second consecutive USAC National Midget feature victory after clicking off a win in the most recent series event on May 21 at Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex in his Tom Malloy/Trench Shoring – Rodela Specialty Fabrication/King/Ed Pink Toyota.
It was Denney’s third career USAC National Midget feature triumph, the first of which occurred this week one year ago when he turned himself into a known commodity on the national scene during the USAC Indiana Midget Week event at Lincoln Park Speedway.
Now, during this same week one year later, he’s both the USAC National Midget and USAC Indiana Midget Week point leader following his Tri-State win which, believe or not, came after a pair of finishes outside the top-20 in his first two series appearances in 2022.
Earlier in the evening, Denney captured his first career Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifying award with the series, then transferred safely through his heat race to place him in the sixth starting position for the 30-lap feature event following the six-car inversion.
Initially, Justin Grant was the one to beat as the most recent USAC National Midget feature winner at Tri-State last Fall sprinted to the lead at the start past polesitter Ryan Timms. Timms slid Grant multiple times for the lead on laps two and three in turn but couldn’t make the move stick as Grant roared back each time to reclaim the lead.
Meanwhile, Denney was practically picking off a car per lap as he streamed into the second spot on lap five past Timms and immediately began to slash the gap between himself and Grant for the race lead, a move which provided Denney the confidence that he could track down Grant in no time flat.
“I was just trying to find where I fit in line,” Denney recalled. “I slid Ryan (Timms) one time, and it was from way back. So, I knew if I got a good run on Justin, I could slide him from just about anywhere.”
On lap nine, Denney made his first bid to take over, diving under Grant in the third turn on lap nine. Two laps later, on the 11th circuit, Kofoid followed suit past Grant with a move reminiscent of Denney’s to assume the second position.
A few moments later, the program’s lone red flag was displayed when contact between Thomas Meseraull and Taylor Reimer sent both cars flipping in turn four on the 12th lap while the two were clashing for the 12th spot.
Denney held a commanding 1.452-second advantage before the stop, but now was required to rebuild his lead from scratch starting from the lap-13 restart, which wasn’t a problem on this night as strong as he and his team were. Denney quickly constructed a 1.5-second lead as the race pressed past the halfway point.
As Denney maintained total control while gliding through lapped traffic, trouble hit the third and fourth place cars of Grant and Kevin Thomas Jr., respectively. Grant performed a half-spin in turn two on lap 25 and was tagged by the nearby car of Thomas, sending both to a stop.
“When we got that caution, I was dreading every minute of it and trying not to overthink my life there,” Denney explained. “I know Buddy’s one of the best, and he’s won the national title two years in a row. Even though he’s been out of the car for a while, he’s still no joke.”
Right from the drop of the green, predictably, Denney was under attack from Kofoid. Kofoid pulled the pin on his first slider in turn one on the lap 25 restart, but the cool, calm and collected Denney never flinched, powering back underneath Kofoid to retake possession of his lead on both laps 25 and 26.
It proved to be the winning move for Denney, who beat Kofoid to the line by .79 seconds, with Kyle Cummins third.
Chase McDermand and Logan Seavey completed the top five.
USAC NOS Energy Drink National Championship, Tri-State Speedway, Haubstadt, Ind., June 4, 2023
HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Jacob Denney, 25, Malloy-13.612; 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 23, Mounce/Stout-13.668; 3. Logan Seavey, 57, Abacus-13.770; 4. Buddy Kofoid, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.815; 5. Justin Grant, 2, RMS-13.816; 6. Jade Avedisian, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.858; 7. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac Dalby-13.874; 8. Ryan Timms, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.896; 9. Chase McDermand, 40, Mounce/Stout-13.930; 10. Bryant Wiedeman, 81, CBI-13.952; 11. Taylor Reimer, 25K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.972; 12. Jake Andreotti, 25m, Malloy-13.987; 13. Daison Pursley, 19, Reinbold/Underwood-14.003; 14. Jesse Love, 84, CBI-14.029; 15. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-14.053; 16. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-14.071; 17. Zach Daum, 7u, Trifecta-14.081; 18. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Styres-14.122; 19. Chance Crum, 26, Rudeen-14.160; 20. Emerson Axsom, 19A, Petry/Hayward-14.237; 21. Chelby Hinton, 4, Klatt-14.278; 22. Gavin Miller, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-14.504; 23. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-14.673; 24. Critter Malone, 21, Reynolds/Ripper-14.880; 25. Bryan Stanfill, 75AU, Griffiths-14.930; 26. Jeff Schindler, 8x, Schindler-15.015; 27. Rylan Gray, 06, Gray-15.357; 28. Robert Carson, 99K, LOK/Carson/Segur-16.076.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Daison Pursley, 2. Buddy Kofoid, 3. Thomas Meseraull, 4. Bryant Wiedeman, 5. Jacob Denney, 6. Cannon McIntosh, 7. Gavin Miller, 8. Chance Crum, 9. Robert Carson, 10. Bryan Stanfill. 2:19.92
ROD END SUPPLY SECOND: HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Zach Daum, 3. Jesse Love, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Ryan Timms, 6. Taylor Reimer, 7. Emerson Axsom, 8. Jeff Schindler, 9. Ethan Mitchell. NT
T.J. FORGED/CAR IQ THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Chase McDermand, 3. Jake Andreotti, 4. Logan Seavey, 5. Hayden Reinbold, 6. Jade Avedisian, 7. Critter Malone, 8. Rylan Gray, 9. Chelby Hinton. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI-FEATURE: (12 laps, top-7 transfer to the feature) 1. Jade Avedisian, 2. Gavin Miller, 3. Chance Crum, 4. Emerson Axsom, 5. Taylor Reimer, 6. Bryan Stanfill, 7. Chelby Hinton, 8. Robert Carson, 9. Rylan Gray, 10. Jeff Schindler, 11. Critter Malone, 12. Cannon McIntosh. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Jacob Denney (6), 2. Buddy Kofoid (3), 3. Kyle Cummins (8), 4. Chase McDermand (10), 5. Logan Seavey (4), 6. Jake Andreotti (13), 7. Cannon McIntosh (23-P), 8. Jade Avedisian (9), 9. Zach Daum (17), 10. Gavin Miller (21), 11. Daison Pursley (7), 12. Ryan Timms (1), 13. Hayden Reinbold (15), 14. Kevin Thomas Jr. (5), 15. Emerson Axsom (19), 16. Justin Grant (2), 17. Taylor Reimer (12), 18. Chance Crum (18), 19. Jesse Love (14), 20. Bryant Wiedeman (11), 21. Bryan Stanfill (22), 22. Thomas Meseraull (16), 23. Chelby Hinton (20). NT