OCALA, Fla. – Thomas Meseraull has made a habit of winning USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget races of late.
A 21-year journey to his first series victory late last year has now led the San Jose, Calif., native to winning three of his last eight starts, including round two of the series’ season at Bubba Raceway Park, a race that was postponed to a rare Monday night start after being rained out on Saturday.
Meseraull led from start to finish in his RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Response Management Services – Engler Machine/Spike/Speedway Toyota, wiring all 30 laps at the three-eighths-mile D-shaped dirt track, but required having to fight off repeated challenges from reigning champ Chris Windom and Saturday’s winner, Buddy Kofoid, down the stretch.
In doing so, Meseraull became the third driver to win both a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget and USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature at Bubba Raceway Park (Tyler Courtney and Chris Windom). Meseraull previously won the sprint finale at the track in 2016.
In on the ground floor of the formation of RMS Racing in its initial season of competition in 2018, Meseraull quickly hit his stride, the best of which he’s enjoyed since his 1999 USAC debut. It’s a stride that has seen both the team and driver prosper and grow together into one of the elite powers on the trail.
“I feel like I’ve always been able to win, but I wasn’t in equipment that was capable of winning,” Meseraull said. “Tonight, we ended up on the front row and that was really the key to the night because the track was so fast. There are always six to eight guys who can win these races, and if you start in front of those guys, you have as good, if not a better, opportunity to win. I’m just excited to be a part of high-profile team like RMS Racing.”
Throughout the duration, Windom remained a couple car lengths behind Meseraull, and routinely presented a challenge to Meseraull by poking the nose of his car underneath at the exit of turn four, with Meseraull able to withstand any and all threats. However, with eight laps remaining, a new hurdle lie ahead with the tail end of the lead lap cars in sight.
“Lappers are always tough because, anymore, everybody’s so fast,” Meseraull explained. “We barely caught the lappers, and when we caught them, we were only a tenth or two faster than them. It’s kind of hard to know where to go. At this place, turns three and four are so tricky, and you really have to get off (turn) four correctly or you lose two to five tenths in a lap if you just mess up that corner. That was crucial.”
As first heat race winner Taylor Reimer was perched high up in turn four, Meseraull responded by diving low into turn one. As Meseraull slid up, Windom ducked under when exiting turn two, pulling completely alongside Meseraull with Kofoid just a single car length behind as the top-three diced through traffic.
“I actually was getting ready to drive around the outside of (Reimer) and saw her toss the nose and come across the track,” said Meseraull. “I ended up having to turn and go underneath her. It worked out, but at the same time, I about crashed the car doing it. But that’s how you win races; you’ve got to hang it out every single lap of every single race.”
Meseraull kept Windom at bay to score a .515 second margin of victory, with Kofoid, Justin Grant and Daison Pursley following.
Windom began his title defense with a pair of podium finishes in Ocala, a third on Saturday and a runner-up finish to round out the weekend.
“It’s disappointing because you want to win these races,” Windom said. “It was wide open the whole time, and the only shot I had to get him was in lapped traffic. We just didn’t make the right moves there. I felt like we were better than him, but we just couldn’t get by him and he ran a smart race and didn’t make any mistakes. When the track is that fast, that’s about all you can do there.”
Chase Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, finished 14th in Monday’s feature event. Earlier in the night he raced to his first heat race victory with the series.
For complete results advance to the next page.