SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. – Regarded as one of the hottest prospects in motorsports, Buddy Kofoid made good on the hype and opened the 410 sprint car season in victory lane Friday night at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway by holding off one of the best ever.
Kofoid led all 30 laps from the pole and fended off a late challenge from 10-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz to top the opening night of the Wild Wing Shootout at the three-eighths-mile dirt track.
The Penngrove, Calif., native – fresh off an A Main appearance at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – returned to his sprint car roots and promptly dusted the field.
His only serious challenge came from Schatz, who had a brief look inside in turns one and two just before a caution flag with seven to go allowed Kofoid to escape from traffic and pull away in clean track.
It marked a big win for Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports, which normally competes without a wing on the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series trail, less than a week after a mediocre Chili Bowl showing.
“Not bad for a non-winged (sprint car) team, huh?” said Kofoid after firing a pair of six-shooters from on top of the wing of his No. 19az sprint car in victory lane.
Kofoid opened up a lead of nearly three seconds at one point in the 30-lapper, before lap traffic allowed a bottom-feeding Schatz to close in from most of a straightaway back.
Schatz showed the nose to Kofoid’s inside with eight laps left, trying to pull alongside the California teenager coming onto the backstretch, but Kofoid stayed committed to the top lane and pulled away with momentum each time.
Once the yellow waved for a sizable piece of metal debris in turn one, setting up a seven-lap sprint to the checkered flag, Kofoid nailed the restart and never looked back as the battle for second heated up.
“Rizzy (Tyler Ransbottom) and Connor (Ridge) gave me a hell of a car,” Kofoid noted. “It’s always fun driving for Andy (Reinbold) and these guys, and it gives me a chance to help them learn a little bit. They helped me out in return, too … it all works out will. I’m wore out, though. That was tiring. I figured the bottom was going to be the place to be, at least once the traffic got strung out ahead of me and I couldn’t really catch them anymore. At that point, I figured it was time to get down.
“I pushed the wing back forward, started working the brake board and tried running the bottom the best I could,” Kofoid added. “I don’t know how far ahead I was, but I was definitely trying to not mess up because I knew (when Schatz caught up) there were seven to go. So I was trying not to let it slip away, and thankfully that caution came out when it did and we were able to control it from there.”
Schatz and Carson Macedo traded jabs several times in the closing laps, as the two World of Outlaws regulars waged war for the runner-up, with Schatz eventually edging out the position at the finish by .003 seconds.
Aaron Reutzel started on the front row and ended up fourth in his debut for Roth Motorsports, with Pennsylvania Posse kingpin Lance Dewease coming from eighth on the grid to a fifth-place finish.
Rico Abreu, Tony Stewart, Cory Eliason, Dominic Scelzi and Tim Kaeding filled out the top 10.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.