SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. – Teenage open-wheel standout Buddy Kofoid will make his NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series debut this weekend during the 52nd annual Western World Championships.
Kofoid will rejoin Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports for the full USAC West Coast Swing – beginning at Arizona Speedway and going through the annual Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway on Nov. 28.
The sprint car star and reigning Fremont (Ohio) Speedway track champion earned his first midget car victory at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway this summer with KKM and raced in several POWRi events for the organization over the past two months.
Now, after a few weeks to rebound and spend time at home in California, Kofoid is primed and ready to tackle the new challenge of competing among the USAC field with KKM.
“I’ve been home for about a month now and done a couple of sprint car races, but no midget races yet,” Kofoid told Sprint Car & Midget. “So it’ll be fun to do some races in Arizona, which is a place I like racing, and then coming to California and doing some races near where I live is gonna be a lot of fun. Especially driving for Keith now … it makes it better for him since I don’t get to do very many midget races; it makes the learning curve faster and helps me learn since they’re a great group of guys and they’ve had a lot of good drivers along the way.
“I enjoy running the midgets and it has helped me, I think, get better (as a driver),” Kofoid added. “Racing in USAC for my first time in a midget will be fun. Obviously they’ve got the best midget drivers in USAC, so that will also be another way to learn and get more experience and become better, because I’ll be racing with the best, for sure.”
While Kofoid relished his time racing sprint cars and midgets in the Midwest, he admitted that it’s been nice over the last few weeks to have some time back in his home state.
“I’ve just been so accustomed to racing in the Midwest, that it’s a little bit different change pace coming home, and it kind of feels relaxed in a way since things are slowing down at the end of the year,” Kofoid noted. “But coming back to these tracks that I haven’t been to in a year or more will be fun; I’m looking forward to seeing them again, but especially in a midget. I’ve always run at a lot of these places in sprint cars, but even some of these places are new … like Bakersfield’s a new one for me. I’ve been to Arizona Speedway, but only in a sprint car, so going there in a midget will be fun.
“It’ll be different, like I said, but I’m looking forward to all of this that’s coming up,” he continued. “It is nice being home, but I like being out and doing something as much as I can as well.”
While he does have track time at several of the California venues on the West Coast Swing, Kofoid doesn’t believe those sprint car experiences will translate as easily to midget success.
“Placerville, I have actually done one or two midget races at, but it’s been a couple of years, so I think I’ll have a lot to relearn,” Kofoid admitted. “But running sprint cars on those tight bullrings, I think the way you drive is similar, but overall racing midgets is just a whole different animal. Predominantly doing winged stuff like I have, I’ve heard it’s easier for guys with that type of experience to become accustomed to a midget. Once you get the midget set in the corner, the rest of the corner is pretty similar and almost the same as driving a winged sprint car.
“They’re just a different animal, the midgets are, but it’s tight racing and a lot of fun.”
Considering he had some quick success with KKM already, Kofoid is optimistic about his chances going into the West Coast, but also is keeping his expectations tempered.
“I’d like to think that we can be super strong right out of the box, but USAC is still the best midget drivers in the country,” Kofoid said. “It’ll be a little bit different than racing with POWRi and in some local shows, but I mean, we’ve come off some good runs. So I’d like to think that maybe we could continue that momentum into these races. I think it would be really big if we could contend up front and be good. I’m hoping that we can, and we’ll just see what happens and take it race by race.
“I really hope for the best, but we’ll just try and put ourselves in the best position we can and then just do the best we can to take advantage of every opportunity.”