Corey Day becomes USAC Midget Racing's youngest winner
By Richie Murray, USAC Media (Indianapolis, IN) -- At 15 years, 6 months and 12 days old, Corey Day became the youngest feature winner in USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget history with a sterling performance Wednesday night in the series’ debut at Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis, round number five of USAC Indiana Midget Week.
Driving for Clauson Marshall Racing, it seems fitting that it’s Day who now owns the “youngest winner” handle. In 2018, Zeb Wise became the youngest series winner at 15 years, 8 months and 21 days old at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in Pennsylvania, himself driving a Clauson Marshall-owned ride that night, same as Day.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jack Reitz Photo
Almost three years ago, Wise surpassed the former “youngest winner” title that had previously been held by Bryan Clauson, who became a first-time USAC National Midget winner at the age of 16 years, 3 months and 23 days in 2005 at Ohio’s Columbus Motor Speedway.
However, a close call while navigating the final turns of the final lap nearly spoiled what was a flawless performance by Day as he bounced not one, not two, but three times atop the cushion between turns three and four, before landing back on all fours and finishing out the last half-straightaway to earn his first career USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget win by a 0.423 second margin over Kevin Thomas Jr.
At a new venue, it takes teams a bit of time to fine-tune their set-ups to get their cars dialed in to the racing surface. Circle City is no exception to the rule, but one team that has figured out the quarter-mile dirt track faster than all others is Clauson Marshall Racing, winner of two All Star Circuit of Champions events on back-to-back nights at the track in May with driver Tyler Courtney, and now added on a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget triumph in their first outing at the place, the team’s 28th with the series and first of the 2021 campaign.
“(Car owner) Tim (Clauson) is amazing with midgets,” Day said. “I couldn’t have a better mentor or crew chief setting up my cars.”
After two Fatheadz fast qualifying times in the first half of USAC Indiana Midget Week at Bloomington and Lawrenceburg, a brief glimpse of the potential that Day carries was noticeably evident, and that someday in the distant future, Day’s breakthrough USAC victory would arrive.
As it turned out, less than a week following his first career start with the series, Day’s night did arrive aboard his Clauson Marshall Racing/ZMax – Driven2SaveLives/Spike/Stanton SR-11x. The son of west coast sprint car and midget racing standout Ronnie Day celebrated with a few exquisite donuts, a pump of the fist and an exuberant cage stand to put an exclamation point on the happenings.
A moment in Day’s heat race proved pivotal as he recovered from a late-race bobble and charged around the outside of Max Guilford to snag the fourth and final transfer spot by inches at the line. That move altered Day’s outlook, and positioned the Clovis, Calif. driver on the outside of the front row where he decidedly positioned himself on the high side while pole sitter Kevin Thomas Jr. worked the bottom.
On the fourth lap, disaster struck USAC National Midget point leader Buddy Kofoid while battling for the seventh position alongside Brenham Crouch and just behind his closest challenger in the points, Chris Windom. Kofoid tapped the rear bumper of Windom and spun to a stop between turns three and four, sending the National point leader to the rear of the 24-car field for the restart.
The high/low contest between Day and Thomas resumed after the yellow, but by lap nine, Day had separated himself from Thomas and constructed a 2.105 second lead by the 13th lap when the yellow fell for a tangle between turns one and two involving Justin Grant (11th), Brian Carber (13th) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (18th).
The lap 13 restart saw Emerson Axsom jet past Petry Motorsports teammate Thomas for 2nd and immediately begin to challenge Day for the race lead just before the yellow fell for 6th running Thomas Meseraull who stopped sideways in turn two.
Axsom fired the first shot toward Day on the 14th lap restart, sliding past for the lead in turn one. Day returned the favor by sliding Axsom back in turn three. Axsom loaded the cannons for another go in turn three on the 16th lap, but Day answered the bell again by cutting back underneath off turn four. Once more, the relentless Axsom went on the attack in turn three with another slide job of Day on lap 18 but was denied with the never-flinching Day racing back by to secure his position at the front.
“I’ve raced micros with him forever,” Day said of Axsom. “So, I know he’s going to race me clean and I’m going to race him clean back. When someone’s throwing a slide job, and you see them coming, you already go to diamond under him as soon as you see him. It’s fun racing clean like that. Emerson, he’d never take me out, so it’s cool racing with him.”
Meanwhile, Kofoid had driven from the tail back into the top-ten in just 15 laps, but on lap 19, he was in the process of trying to slide job Kaylee Bryson for the 9th position when Kofoid’s right rear dug into the service, sending him flipping. Bryson was also collected in the incident. Kofoid once again restarted, but only managed to get back to 19th, his first finish outside of the top-ten all season. Bryson finished 17th.
When racing resumed with 11 laps remaining, second-running Axsom tripped on the turn three and four curb, allowing Thomas to slip by for 2nd then bobbled in turn two on the following lap, which let both Brady Bacon and Brenham Crouch go by for 3rd and 4th. And Day was off again, posting a 2.025 sec. advantage for an all-certain victory with the white flag in sight.
However, Cannon McIntosh, running 13th, came to a halt in turn four to bring out the final yellow, thus setting up a green-white-checkered finish for the young Day to face. Day looked every bit the part of a veteran on the final restart, distancing himself from the pack with no challengers in close range behind and a clear view of the Indiana horizon ahead.
Instead, Day found himself trying to wrangle the car home in one piece as he did his best impression of a Professional Bull Rider to hang on for the final eight seconds, give or take a few. As his machine bounced through turns three and four, Thomas, Bacon and others ganged up a little bit closer, but as fate would have, Day’s car landed with the wheels pointed straight at the finish line, where he shot away to secure the victory over Thomas, Bacon, Axsom and Crouch.
Through five USAC Indiana Midget Week events thus far, five different winners have emerged from five different teams: Thomas Meseraull for RMS Racing at Paragon; Buddy Kofoid for Kunz/Curb-Agajanian at Bloomington; Logan Seavey for Tom Malloy at Lawrenceburg; Kyle Cummins for Glenn Styres at Tri-State; and now Corey Day for Clauson Marshall Racing at Circle City.
An odd night for many traditional front runners resulted in a shake up in both the Indiana Midget Week standings and the overall USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget title race. Windom maintains the Indiana Midget Week lead while Logan Seavey moved into second and Kofoid dropped back to third.
Windom, meanwhile, gained the lead in the USAC National Midget standings by a seven-point margin over Kofoid after trailing by seven coming in.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) earned his best finish of the 2021 USAC National Midget season with a 2nd in his Petry Motorsports/Gray Auto – FK Rod Ends/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota. It was KTJ’s third top-five finish in his last four starts, his best four-race span with the series this year.
Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla) missed the transfer in last Thursday’s Paragon USAC Indiana Midget Week opener, then ran 4th at Bloomington, took two nights off from the midget, then returned at Circle City on Wednesday to turn in his best series’ finish of the year, a 3rd place run aboard his TKH Motorsports/Dahmer Powertrain – Fatheadz Eyewear/Triple X/Stanton SR-11x. Bacon won the accompanying Midwest Sprint Car Series feature earlier in the evening at Circle City.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 9, 2021 – Circle City Raceway – Indianapolis, Indiana – 17th USAC Indiana Midget Week – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 21H, TKH-12.869 (New Track Record); 2. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Styres-12.929; 3. Jerry Coons Jr., 85, Central-12.960; 4. Justin Grant, 2J, RMS-13.063; 5. Chase Randall, 19A, Reinbold/Underwood-13.079; 6. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.104; 7. Corey Day, 47BC, Clauson Marshall-13.109; 8. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5, Petry-13.153; 9. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.158; 10. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-13.171; 11. Sam Johnson, 72J, Johnson-13.276; 12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 17s, Clauson Marshall-13.277; 13. Tanner Thorson, 19T, Reinbold/Underwood-13.328; 14. Jarett Andretti, 18, RMS-13.355; 15. Jonathan Shafer, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.358; 16. Daison Pursley, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.372; 17. Chris Windom, 89, CBI-13.389; 18. Hayden Williams, 1NZ, BSL-13.394; 19. Taylor Reimer, 25K, Dave Mac-13.408; 20. Chance Crum, 26, Rudeen-13.429; 21. Jason McDougal, 4, Dalby-13.470; 22. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.475; 23. Brian Carber, 19, Hayward-13.610; 24. Emerson Axsom, 15, Petry-13.644; 25. Cole Bodine, 39BC, Clauson Marshall-13.662; 26. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-13.670; 27. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac-13.786; 28. Logan Seavey, 25, Malloy-13.831; 29. Travis Buckley, 7NZ, BLS-13.927; 30. Austin Barnhill, 17B, Johnson-13.928; 31. Bryant Wiedeman, 01, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.959; 32. Trey Gropp, 00, MSW-14.020; 33. Tyler Nelson, 88, Nelson-14.050; 34. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-14.160; 35. Max Guilford, 3NZ, Benic-14.249; 36. Oliver Akard, 41, OMR-14.613.; 37. Blake Brannon, 40, Brannon-14.873.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Jason McDougal, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Brenham Crouch, 6. Cole Bodine, 7. Tyler Nelson, 8. Travis Buckley, 9. Blake Brannon, 10. Chase Randall. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Buddy Kofoid, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Kaylee Bryson, 4. Kyle Cummins, 5. Jarett Andretti, 6. Ethan Mitchell, 7. Austin Barnhill, 8. Hayden Reinbold, 9. Hayden Williams. NT
INDY METAL FINISHING THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Taylor Reimer, 2. Jerry Coons Jr., 3. Cannon McIntosh, 4. Corey Day, 5. Max Guilford, 6. Sam Johnson, 7. Jonathan Shafer, 8. Bryant Wiedeman, 9. Brian Carber. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Emerson Axsom, 2. Daison Pursley, 3. Kevin Thomas Jr., 4. Logan Seavey, 5. Justin Grant, 6. Chance Crum, 7. Oliver Akard, 8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 9. Trey Gropp. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Brenham Crouch, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Hayden Williams, 4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 5. Brian Carber, 6. Sam Johnson, 7. Bryant Wiedeman, 8. Max Guilford, 9. Chance Crum, 10. Blake Brannon, 11. Jonathan Shafer, 12. Ethan Mitchell, 13. Cole Bodine, 14. Tyler Nelson, 15. Oliver Akard, 16. Chase Randall, 17. Jarett Andretti, 18. Travis Buckley, 19. Austin Barnhill, 20. Hayden Reinbold, 21. Trey Gropp. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Corey Day (2), 2. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1), 3. Brady Bacon (6), 4. Emerson Axsom (10), 5. Brenham Crouch (12), 6. Kyle Cummins (5), 7. Logan Seavey (22), 8. Tanner Thorson (16), 9. Daison Pursley (17), 10. Jerry Coons Jr. (4), 11. Hayden Williams (18), 12. Chris Windom (7), 13. Chase Randall (24-P), 14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (15), 15. Bryant Wiedeman (23-P), 16. Brian Carber (20), 17. Kaylee Bryson (3), 18. Taylor Reimer (8), 19. Buddy Kofoid (9), 20. Thomas Meseraull (13), 21. Justin Grant (11), 22. Sam Johnson (14), 23. Cannon McIntosh (21), 24. Jason McDougal (19). NT
(P) represents a provisional starter.
**Hayden Reinbold flipped during qualifying. Hayden Williams flipped during the second heat. Bryant Wiedeman flipped during the third heat. Chance Crum flipped during the fourth heat. Trey Gropp flipped during the fourth heat. Travis Buckley flipped during the semi. Buddy Kofoid flipped on lap 19 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Corey Day.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-746, 2-Buddy Kofoid-739, 3-Justin Grant-686, 4-Tanner Thorson-655, 5-Thomas Meseraull-642, 6-Emerson Axsom-636, 7-Daison Pursley-611, 8-Logan Seavey-609, 9-Cannon McIntosh-562, 10-Kevin Thomas Jr.-558.
INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-330, 2-Logan Seavey-313, 3-Buddy Kofoid-303, 4-Daison Pursley-296, 5-Justin Grant-276, 6-Kevin Thomas Jr.-275, 7-Emerson Axsom-258, 8-Corey Day-255, 9-Thomas Meseraull-250, 10-Cannon McIntosh-247.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Tanner Thorson-71, 2-Thomas Meseraull-71, 3-Robert Ballou-60, 4-Brady Bacon-47, 5-Chris Windom-43, 6-Justin Grant-41, 7-Kevin Thomas Jr.-37, 8-Brian Carber-34, 9-Buddy Kofoid-33, 10-Emerson Axsom-31.
INDIANA MIDGET WEEK PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Brian Carber-33, 2-Logan Seavey-31, 3-Emerson Axsom-30, 4-Thomas Meseraull-29, 5-Hayden Williams-28, 6-Tanner Thorson-25, 7-Brenham Crouch-22, 8-Daison Pursley-21, 9-Max Guilford-20, 10-Cannon McIntosh-19.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 10, 2021 – Lincoln Park Speedway – Putnamville, Indiana – 17th USAC Indiana Midget Week – 5/16-Mile Dirt Oval
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
GSP Driving Performance of the Night: Corey Day
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Brady Bacon
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Chris Windom
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Buddy Kofoid
Indy Metal Finishing Third Heat Winner: Taylor Reimer
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Emerson Axsom
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Brenham Crouch
KSE Racing Products / Irvin King Hard Charger: Logan Seavey (22nd to 7th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Chase Randall
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Bryant Wiedeman
John Hinck Championship Hard Work Award: Logan Seavey
Submitted By: Kirk Elliott