COLUMBUS, Ind. – California’s Maria Cofer will reunite with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports for a three-race swing through the Midwest this weekend, driving the No. 97 Toyota-sponsored entry.
Cofer will tackle Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill., on Friday with the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series, before moving to Missouri’s Lake Ozark Speedway for a double dip with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League on Saturday and Sunday.
The tripleheader will mark Cofer’s first set of starts with the Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby-led operation since last year’s BC39 at The Dirt Track at IMS, and it’s an pairing she’s relishing the chance to rekindle.
“To be honest with you, this deal came together pretty quickly,” said Cofer when reached by phone on Thursday. “It started with a conversation that I was having with one of the Toyota Racing representatives, and he just threw it out there. He was like, ‘oh yeah, we’re going to put you in at KKM for these three races,’ so I wasn’t really expecting it.
“I’m super thankful for the opportunity to do it, though, and to reunite with KKM and everyone over there,” Cofer added. “Everyone with Toyota and SiriusXM put it together for me and I’m going to try and make the most out of this opportunity and see where it takes me from here.”
Cofer noted that falling back into step at the KKM shop was like sliding on a comfortable pair of shoes; everything just fit together for her from the first moments she got back.
“It’s like family there. We’re all like one big family,” said Cofer of KKM. “To walk back in the shop today … everybody was super welcome and I really felt like I never left, you know? I know I wasn’t there for very long last year, but I feel comfortable working with KKM and all the guys here are great. I get along with everybody, and everybody gets along with me.
“We’re hoping to have some fun and I’m looking forward to being back this weekend.”
Though she’s been solid on the West Coast in BCRA midget action this season, Cofer said “it’s a brave new world” any time that she comes back to the Midwest to compete.
“It’s a day and night difference (between the two) and there’s no real comparison, I don’t think,” she explained. “I’m not taking anything away from those guys out west, but it’s just a whole different ball game when you’re running with USAC and POWRi. You’re kind of going from the minor leagues to the big leagues, or whatever analogy you want to use.
“It’s a very big difference and it’s always really humbling to come back out here, you know? With these guys you have, 10 to 15 guys who are going for the win every single night,” said Cofer. “It’s very tough and a big, big difference compared to out west.”
With that in mind, Cofer is keeping her expectations tempered slightly going into the weekend with Keith Kunz Motorsports.
“I’m just looking to have clean, good runs and to be consistent with myself and with the team every place I go to,” said Cofer. “I’ve never been to Granite City before, so I’m looking forward to making the best out of that track that I can. … Whether it’s top-five or top-10 finishes where we’re somewhere up towards the front, that’s my hope for it.
“Consistency and solid runs are our goals here. If we can do that, we’ll be OK.”