COLUMBUS, Ind. – Teenage sprint car standout Buddy Kofoid has landed a ride with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports for Friday night’s Summer Midget Series event at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway.
Kofoid, who recently revealed he’s looking for a ride for the 2020 season, will pilot the No. 97 Toyota-liveried Bullet during the final unsanctioned race of the year at the quarter-mile dirt oval.
The 17-year-old from California, who has been living in Ohio this year while pursuing his racing career with Ed Neumeister Racing, is a young gun who’s been on team owner Keith Kunz’s “watch list” for much of the season.
“It’s that time of the year where we’re looking toward the next year and for the future, you know, and Buddy is someone who’s been at the top of our list,” Kunz told Sprint Car & Midget. “There are a couple of guys that we want to take a look at, going forward, but with his background and his experience now in winged sprint cars … that’s where we feel like the guys are who can step right into the midgets and be up to speed pretty quick.
“This was just one of those things where we had an opening and wanted to give him a chance and try something, and this weekend kind of popped up where he was free this weekend,” Kunz added. “We’ve been working on it for a while, looking through the schedule and trying to figure out when we could do this. Buddy comes highly recommended and we’ve seen the results.
“He’s a young, fast kid with experience who fits all the criteria of what we’re looking for.”
Kunz was quick to note that he sees Kofoid as a driver who falls into a similar category as several of his heavyweights that have gone on to stardom on the NASCAR side, largely due to his winged experience.
“I think more than anything, being successful in these cars just comes with experience, you know?” Kunz said. “He comes along the line of Kyle (Larson), Christopher (Bell) and Rico (Abreu), where they had winged experience when they came to KKM and adapted real quick and got up to speed. The group of kids that I have this year are real rookies, where they’re coming (straight) out of outlaw karts or micros, and that’s just a different kind of experience and different learning experience for them to step into. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve done a great job and have all come along to be knocking at the door now.
“But Buddy is a little bit different, to where he fits that mold of Christopher and Kyle of having experience in a winged car, and really a lot of experience now, with what he’s done this year,” continued Kunz. “He’s young, so we just want to see where this goes. You always want to give someone like him a chance and see what happens, and that’s what we’re doing here at Jacksonville.”
Kofoid, who spoke to Sprint Car & Midget on Tuesday regarding his ride search for the upcoming year, has had a banner season. He won the Fremont Speedway championship and has four 410 sprint car victories in the Ed Neumeister-owned No. 11n, including his maiden All Star Circuit of Champions win.
A midget ride may not have been on his to-do list at the start of the year, but it adds a box underneath several of the ones that the California native has already knocked off.
“I had a few goals coming into the year. One of them was an All Star win, and we got that,” Kofoid noted prior to the KKM announcement. “A championship would have been one of them, and we were able to get that too (at Fremont). It’s pretty cool to put some checks in the boxes of the things I wanted to do.
“It’s been a lot of fun.”
While Kofoid’s deal with KKM is just for Friday’s Jacksonville race right now, Kunz noted that it could extend further depending on the duo’s performance, as well as what Kofoid’s schedule turns out to hold going into the new year.
“That’s why we’re trying. That’s why we’re going to give him a shot here,” he said. “One race isn’t going to determine everything, because going over there … it’s a tough deal. All these other kids know that it’s a short track, everybody’s been there all year long; it’s going to be a learning curve for him. So it is and it isn’t about going over there and winning, but we’ll be able to see what he’s like in the car and his car control and all those types of things.
“If we can walk away from there running near the front and contend for a top five over there with Buddy, then you realize you’ve probably got something. We just don’t know until we see it.”