PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. — Daison Pursley climbed from his car Thursday night at Lincoln Park Speedway relieved that he finally notched a podium finish during USAC Indiana Midget Week.
Then, an announcement over the track’s public-address system made his night even sweeter.
Pursley’s face lit up as he heard USAC announcer Tony LaPorta reveal that the 16-year-old had taken the Indiana Midget Week point lead with two nights remaining in the annual mini-series.
Granted, the Locust Grove, Okla., native’s lead is only one point entering Friday’s race at Gas City I-69 Speedway, but as Pursley pointed out, “All you need is one point more than second to win it, right?”
Pursley’s confidence is soaring, however, when considering he finally put the iBuyPower-sponsored No. 71k in position to win an Indiana Midget Week race with his performance at the five-sixteenths-mile Lincoln Park dirt track.
“[Having the Midget Week point lead] makes finishing second a lot better,” Pursley admitted. “It just goes to show how good this team is at consistency. It makes my job a lot easier when I have this good of a race car and it can go track to track and perform like we’ve been performing. I have a ton of confidence in it and I know I can run it hard for 30 laps. But it’s pretty cool to have not won a race yet during Midget Week and still be leading the points. That’s what it takes to win championships.
“Consistency is key, and that’s what the Keith Kunz Motorsports No. 71 iBuyPower team is doing right now,” Pursley added. “We’ll just try to keep the lead for two more nights here.”
It took Pursley longer than he wanted to get to the front of the field Thursday night, but eventually, the 16-year-old found himself in contention behind race-long leader Tanner Thorson on a restart with nine laps left.
“The first couple of cautions, I was still in fifth and I knew we had the speed and everything to get there. I was just trying to roll the bottom in (turns) one and two,” Pursley noted. “I know that wasn’t the preferred line, but I felt like when those guys ahead of me started sliding each other on that end, I could capitalize on that and then jump up to the top and start ripping it. And that was what I was able to do.
“When I got to third, Tanner was probably a straightaway ahead and I was on (Chase) Randall’s bumper, but I couldn’t really get by him,” Pursley recalled. “Chase was keeping up a good pace where I couldn’t throw a slider or run the bottom to get by him. So it was a really, really tough race with a lot of good guys up front that could keep the car free enough to run the top like that. It’s just hard to pass when everyone’s so good, but we were able to do that and bring home a second-place finish.”
A mistake on the cushion in turn two with six laps left ended any shot he might have had at the victory, but Pursley doubted he had enough to get past Thorson even if he’d found an opportunity to try.
“Tanner was really good tonight and it just goes to show how good he is with how rough Midget Week has been for him,” Pursley noted. “He was able to bounce back with a win. That’s pretty cool to see.”
With two races remaining and the prospect of an Indiana Midget Week championship on the line, Pursley tipped that he can’t get too caught up in changing any of the tactics that have gotten him to this point.
Sealing the deal is the last step in the process, he said.
“Not overthinking things now is big,” Pursley pointed out. “I feel like Chris Windom kind of did that tonight in qualifying, and then even in the heat race, he seemed just very, very passive. And I feel like when you’re passive like that and trying to protect too much, it can hurt you. So I’m just not even thinking about it, really. I really wasn’t thinking about any of the Midget Week points at all coming in here. My mind was just on racing and doing what this team knows how to do.
“When you race hard, the results will come and the points will come also.”