MEEKER, Okla. – The state of Oklahoma has proven itself as a breeding ground for some of best racing talent in the nation over the past several years.
On the same token, Oklahoma’s Red Dirt Raceway has proven itself as a showcase of some of the top NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series races in history, and the series makes its third visit to the quarter-mile dirt track for Tuesday Night Thunder on July 21.
Take last year’s Red Dirt A-main for example, which featured an astonishing seven lead changes among six different drivers, which alone says how epic the racy joint can be.
Now, though the red dirt covers new territory this year for the series, the state of Oklahoma itself does not.
Two events were held back in May at Tulsa’s Port City Raceway, the first night of which was captured by defending series champion Tyler Courtney.
Courtney finished 10th at Red Dirt in 2018 but led early and often in 2019, for a total of eight laps. He was leading when mechanical trouble befell him 13 laps from the finish, relegating the pole sitter to an unrepresentative 16th place result.
Oklahoma serves as a homecoming of sorts for many drivers in the lineup, including Broken Arrow’s Jason McDougal, who took seventh during his first shot in 2018.
In 2019, McDougal led the first eight laps of the feature, and nine total, before becoming involved in a three-car flip that also involved two more flippers joining in on the fray.
Among the tumblers was Tyler Thomas, who finished 10th in 2019 after returning from the incident. He also won his heat race in back-to-back years at Red Dirt in 2018 and 2019.
Ninth in points is series rookie Daison Pursley, who’ll make his Red Dirt debut with USAC on Tuesday night. His Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate, fellow rookie Kaylee Bryson, turned some heads during June’s Indiana Midget Week with a 10th at Gas City and a seventh at Lawrenceburg. She earned her first podium Sunday night at Caney Valley.
Also in the KKM stable is Cannon McIntosh, fifth in the standings, who made his first career NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget feature start at Red Dirt in 2018, finishing 18th in the family car.
Also making his first career USAC start in that very same race, taking 21st, was Indiana’s Cole Bodine, currently eighth in the standings.
Sixth in the standings is 2019 USAC Most Improved Driver Tanner Carrick, who recently won a wild winged 360 sprint car feature at California’s Marysville Raceway.
In the midget at Red Dirt, Carrick has been banging on the door for a win. He led one lap early en route to a third place finish in 2018 after earlier winning the semi. In 2019, he led one circuit again with 11 to go, before contact provided him a flat left rear tire and a 12th place finish.
Jerry Coons Jr. took over for the lead for four laps following Carrick’s misfortune, topping the field until seven laps remaining before finishing fourth for the second consecutive year at Red Dirt after finishing in the same position in 2018.
Series point leader Chris Windom led the 18th lap of last year’s Red Dirt feature amidst a flurry of activity that saw four different leaders in four laps just past the halfway mark.
Windom wound up finishing third while his current car owner, Chad Boat, won his heat and finished seventh behind the wheel.
Three-time NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget winner Tanner Thorson, who stands fourth in points, finished eighth at Red Dirt in 2019.
He has tasted Oklahoma success already this year, with a preliminary night victory back in January at the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa.
Buddy Kofoid, the impressive rookie who’s second in points entering Red Dirt, has only finished outside the top 10 once in his 11 series starts this season, that minor blemish coming on the first night of the T-Town Midget Showdown in Tulsa, Okla.
He’s surrounding the possibility of a first career USAC Midget feature win with podium finishes in two of his last three starts, a third at Lincoln Park and a second at Lawrenceburg.
In the 13 previous USAC National Midget Series races held in the state of Oklahoma, only one driver has become a multi-time winner – 1963 champion Bob Wente.
The two winners at Red Dirt over the past two years include, ironically, the last two drivers to win the championship in their rookie years.
Oklahoma native and 2013 series champion Christopher Bell was victorious in 2018, while Logan Seavey won in 2019, a year following his 2018 series title.
At Red Dirt, the gates open at 5 p.m. CT, with qualifying at 7 p.m. and racing to immediately follow. The NOW600 non-winged micros are also on the event card.