FAIRBURY, Neb. — Chris Windom withstood Buddy Kofoid’s repeated, relentless challenges, including during a hellacious four-lap dash to the finish, to capture his third USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature victory of the season Friday night at Jefferson County Speedway.
In a 30-lap feature that was stop-and-start throughout, with a number of cautions and a pair of red flags impeding the proceedings, Windom worked his way to the lead just prior to midway after pole sitter Ethan Mitchell led the first four laps of his USAC career while Cannon McIntosh controlled the front of the pack from lap five until Windom worked his way by on the 12th circuit following a restart.
Windom found it much easier to catch rather than pass at the fifth-mile dirt oval on this particular night. However, Windom felt that door was being left open on restarts, which allowed him to get a run to take the top spot from McIntosh after multiple attempts in turn three on back-to-back laps. Windom officially claimed the number one position just prior to a caution for the stopped car of Cole Bodine in turn four on lap 13.
A rhythm was difficult to find as the laps clicked away on the southeastern Nebraska metronome, but Windom was right on beat as he opened up his lead to 1.5 seconds and encroached on the tail of the field in the waning stages.
As Windom began to track down traffic that was running three and four-wide at times, Kofoid was right on his trail, closing to within a couple car lengths of Windom with four laps remaining.
In the thick of the battle, third-running Tanner Thorson, who had earlier set Fatheadz Fast Qualifying time, spun to a stop in turn two to bring out the final yellow flag.
“I was really happy to see that caution because, actually, under the last caution, I had leaned the car down and I forgot to turn the fuel back on. I felt like we were running on six cylinders and thought we were blowing up. It was really just my own fault there, so luckily, we got that figured out.”
Now without traffic as a hindrance, Windom had another battle to wage, the one under his helmet, where he had to decide where on the track to go in order to keep a hungry, first-win-seeking Kofoid behind him.
“The restart, and a couple of laps after the restarts, were the toughest part, really,” Windom explained. “You could get such a big run if you threw a slider into one. It was hard to decide, as the leader, whether to go to the top or slide yourself and lose momentum. At the end of the day, it all worked out, but it was definitely a hellacious last couple of laps.”
Kofoid was setting up his next move that he ultimately made with two laps remaining, sliding by Windom entering the first turn with little room to spare. Windom made contact with the rear bumper of Kofoid, elevating all four wheels of Windom’s Tucker-Boat Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Pristine Auction/Spike/Speedway Toyota off the racing surface.
“He ran us hard there, and when he slid me in one and two, I just ran him hard back,” Windom recalled. “That’s how you have to pass guys here, though. No fault of him, really, sliding me hard. I felt like I had taken control of the race, though, and I was really not going to let that slip away at the end, so I did what I had to do to keep the win.”
Once Windom landed on all fours, he took off straight for the bottom of turn three as Daison Pursley stuck a nose in to the battle to briefly make it three-wide on the back straightaway.
Windom got to the bottom first, exited off turn four and, as he sped underneath the white flag, attempted to jet back to the bottom of turn one, resulting in contact between Kofoid’s front chrome and Windom’s rear bumper.
That move slowed up Windom’s momentum off turn two, but Kofoid was only able to get half a car length under Windom as Windom made a beeline back to the bottom of turn three, forcing Kofoid and Pursley to try high as a last ditch effort, to no avail, as Windom sprinted to the checkered flag for the fifth time in his USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget career by two car lengths over Kofoid, Pursley, Tyler Thomas and Cannon McIntosh.
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