KUTZTOWN, Pa. – With his first win coming in the 47th start of his career in mid-July, it took Daison Pursley five more starts to capture his second USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget victory on Wednesday night during the second round of Eastern Midget Week at Action Track USA.
“That’s what a lot of people have been telling me,” Pursley said. “The first one is always hard to get, then you start clicking them off. This kind of shows that that’s true.”
The box score reads that the Locust Grove, Okla., driver led all 30 laps of the feature in succession after starting from the pole position, but it took a roundabout venture en route from point A to point B in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/IWX – TRD – Curb/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota at the fifth-mile, newly re-banked dirt oval.
A tumultuous first lap resulted in devastating consequences for a couple of frontrunners, both from the RMS Racing stable. As Pursley led the field midway down the back straightway, he received a tap on the rear bumper from Meseraull that sent him up the racetrack. Emerson Axsom shot by both drivers from third to first while Meseraull ducked under to second through turns three and four.
Side-by-side exiting turn four, outside-riding Axsom pulled the front wheels off the ground. Simultaneously, he and Meseraull banged wheels, sending Meseraull into a 180-degree spin as the field whizzed past near the flag stand. The oncoming car of Justin Grant collided with his RMS teammate, Meseraull, and flipped over in a series of twists and turns before landing at the entry to turn one. Grant immediately tossed out the steering wheel and crawled his way out from the wreckage.
During the red, Meseraull went on a full sprint around the perimeter of the infield to vigorously confront the still strapped-in Axsom on the back straightaway. After a stern meeting of words and hand gestures, Meseraull parted with a 21st place finish while Grant was scored 22nd.
With a complete restart on tap, Pursley reassumed his place on the pole position where he spurted away with the race lead. However, all efforts proved to be short-lived when a six-car tangle ensued in turn one at the conclusion of lap one when third-running Tanner Thorson spun in turn one, which collected Logan Seavey (fifth), Cannon McIntosh (eighth) and Kevin Thomas Jr. (ninth).
A separate tangle in the back at the same moment also forced the stoppage of both Eric Heydenreich and Michael Markey, both of whom were making their first series starts of the year. Those two returned to the field as did Thorson and Seavey, who finished ninth and 12th, respectively. Damage to the front ends of McIntosh and Thomas knocked both out of the race prematurely.
With 10 laps remaining, Axsom had tracked down and tightened the leash on Pursley, beginning a succession of three consecutive Axsom slide jobs over the next two laps entering turns one and three. However, each time, Pursley managed to cross over successfully and regain the lead.
Pursley gained an ounce of freedom with a slide job on the lapped car of his teammate, Jonathan Shafer, with eight laps remaining that, conversely, pinned his nemesis, Axsom, with Shafer now separating the two in the meantime.
Bottled up with two laps remaining and, seemingly, appearing to have his roadway blocked, Axsom began to dig back into contention, Pursley bounced off the turn one cushion just inches from the outer wall on his right side and mere inches from the rear bumper of Zach Daum just ahead of him. Pursley jet-streamed right through the barely-existent gap that remained between the tail-end lead lap cars of Daum and Chase Randall halfway down the back straightaway.
That proved to be the winning move for Pursley as he shot through the gap and subsequently, created his own gap between he and second place finisher Axsom at the checkered flag, 0.967 second ahead at the checkered with a wounded Buddy Kofoid third, Hayden Williams finishing a career-best fourth and Chris Windom rounding out the top-five a night after winning at Grandview Speedway.
“Going through lapped traffic there, I feel like it’s usually better to be in second,” Pursley explained. “When I first hit traffic, I started biding my own time and knew that I had a little bit of a gap with what (car owner) Keith (Kunz) was telling me. I knew it was going to be a number of laps before sliders started getting thrown. When I got to traffic, and as soon as (Emerson) threw that one, I got up on the wheel and started really not making any friends with the lapped cars out there, but I feel that’s what you’ve got to do to win these races.”
For the second consecutive night, Franklin, Indiana’s Emerson Axsom briefly took over the lead late before dropping back to second shortly thereafter, instead having to settle for a runner-up finish in his Petry Motorsports/FK Rod Ends – Iron Born Studio/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
Yet, it was the opening lap accident between he and Meseraull that had the crowd in a frenzy.
“I haven’t seen the replay, so I’m not sure,” Axsom stated. “But, either way, if I did wreck him, I’m sorry.
“We’ve been super consistent since the second half of Indiana Midget Week. I saw a tweet that said we had made up the most points since that time. Our cars are good; KTJ’s is good. Everyone on the crew is working together. It all helps. Hopefully, we can just keep riding the wave and keep having these good runs.”
Buddy Kofoid was cast in body armor at Action Track USA after suffering both a broken right wrist and a broken left foot in a late model accident at Minnesota’s Elko Speedway on July 24. With a cast grooved to fit the curvature of his steering wheel, ala Jim Hurtubise, Kofoid steered his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – TRD – IWX/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota to a solid third-place result.
“Towards the end, it’s hard to speculate, but I think we were just as fast if not a little faster (than Axsom and Pursley),” Kofoid said. “At the end, when the track got slicker and dirtier, I was able to chip away just a little bit. It’s so narrow around the top, you can’t afford to get off the top. With a broken wrist and a broken foot, I guess a third isn’t too bad.”
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