WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. – The field may have been slightly thinner than usual, but the feeling of victory was exactly as Daison Pursley envisioned it would be Friday night at Riverside Int’l Speedway.
Pursley raced to his first nationally-sanctioned USAC victory during the opening night of the Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hometown Challenge at the quarter-mile, gumbo clay oval.
The 16-year-old topped a 13-car field that included Stenhouse – who was driving the No. 89 CB Industries mount normally piloted by defending USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series champion Chris Windom.
Friday marked Pursley’s second career win behind the wheel of a midget.
Both nights of the Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hometown Challenge are non-points-paying events for the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series, due to a conflicting USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series race on Saturday night at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway.
That didn’t matter to Pursley, however, as he was all smiles in victory lane.
“When you race against guys like Cannon (McIntosh) and Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.), no win comes easy,” Pursley tipped. “This is what we strive for at KKM (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports).”
Stenhouse finished fourth in the 25-lap main event, behind Pursley, Cannon McIntosh and Brenham Crouch. Each of the top four, representing three different teams, had Toyota engines in their cars.
Michael Magic crossed fifth, followed by Austin Wood, Chase Howard, Mike Magic, Derek Hagar and Bryant Wiedeman, who started from the pole but faded back to a 10th-place finish.
McIntosh and Ethan Mitchell won their respective heat races Friday evening, while Wiedeman won the six-lap dash event that preceded the 25-lap feature.
Friday’s field featured a mix of USAC national midgets and Southeastern outlaw midgets, which feature a stock production long block engine as opposed to the traditional national formula.
1. 71k-Daison Pursley , 2. 08-Cannon McIntosh , 3. 97-Brenham Crouch , 4. 89-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , 5. 5m-Michael Magic , 6. 9j-Austin Wood , 7. 50-Chase Howard , 8. 4m-Mike Magic , 9. 9jr-Derek Hagar , 10. 01-Bryant Wiedeman , 11. 91t-Tyler Thomas , 12. 44c-Blake Carrier , 13. 19m-Ethan Mitchell .