Modifieds of Mayhem
10 Things to Know About Nashville's Triple 50s
Jun 3, 2022
Justin Grant is seeking both his first Indiana Midget Week and USAC National Midget Championship.
Standing in his way is a familiar face in Buddy Kofoid -- defending champion of both the season long championship and the championship within the championship held annually each June across the Hoosier State
The 2020 Silver Crown champion has traded a lot of sliders over with the Toyota super prospect over the past two years. They enter Midget Week separated by 10 point in the USAC standings but have recently raced for the win in the Silver Crown Series at Terre Haute on May 2.
There will be other contenders, of course, but the seven races in nine nights appear poised to be a microcosm of the summer long duel between Grant and Kofoid.
"Buddy is a gasser," Grant told Racing on Friday before the opener at Bloomington Speedway. "It's a lot of fun to race a driver like him. I've squared off against a couple of drivers in a similar situation to his and when you get beat -- you tear yourself and the car apart trying to figure out what the difference was -- and then you watch the replay, they just tried harder than you did that night.
"The car has to be good, but all things equal, Buddy makes you drive really hard at the end of these nights."
The respect is mutual from Kofoid, too.
"Justin is very good," Kofoid said. "He drives a lot of different cars, a lot like I do, and I think that versatility makes a difference when you have to deal with different track conditions. It keeps you really sharp.
"Beyond that, I've just gotten to know him a little bit over the last year or so. They've picked their game up this year and we've picked ours up too. We're going to keep pushing but they are too and that's one of the reasons I really enjoy racing Justin."
Grant, driving the RMS Racing No. 2J, opened the season with three consecutive victories at Ocala and Port City before two third-place results at Port and Granite City on Thursday night. The races not won by Grant were won by Kofoid and his Keith Kunz Motorsports No. 67 team with finishes of fifth, second and second at Ocala and Port.
It’s still early in the year, of course, and other contenders will emerge throughout the week and summer but Grant and Kofoid have set the bar.
Chasing them are Cannon McIntosh in the Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports No. 08, Mitchel Moles in the No. 89 CB Industries entry and KKM's Bryant Wiedeman. RMS also has a revitalized Thomas Meseraull with KKM also contending for wins with Kaylee Bryson and Taylor Reimer.
A fascinating story to watch over the course of the next week-plus could be a breakthrough victory by Bryson and Reimer. Bryson became the first woman to qualify for the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals feature. Reimer has contended for wins across POWRi, Xtreme Outlaw and USAC competition this year.
"I love this week," said Reimer, a decorated collegiate cheerleader with the University of Oklahoma. "I'd race every day of the week if I could. I think stepping away for a couple of years to go to school reminded me how much I loved this.
"You have to bring your A game every night in a way that the rest of the season doesn't quite match. You can't give up anything."
Kyle Larson is always seemingly up to make a Midget Week start or two as his diverse schedule permits. Brady Bacon, Zach Daum, Jade Avedisian, Chase McDermand and Brenham Couch are also represented on the expected entry lists.
After sweeping Midget Week and the USAC championship last year, Kofoid now aims to become the 12th driver to win back-to-back season long triumphs -- Shorty Templeman (1956-57-58), Jimmy Davies (1960-61-62) and Jason Leffler (1997-98-99), Mike McGreevy (1965-66), Mel Kenyon (1967-68), Sleepy Tripp (1975-76), Stevie Reeves (1992-93), Tony Stewart (1994-95), Dave Darland (2001-02), Jerry Coons Jr. (2006-07) and Bryan Clauson (2010-11).
"Winning both was the icing on the cake," Kofoid said. "It's two of the biggest accomplishments you can have in Midget racing. But I think the things (Midget Week) teaches you gets you in the right mindset for the championship too. It's the hardest week of the year in dirt racing in my opinion. It gives you a lot of momentum if you get out of there with a good week."
Photo: Chris Pedersen for USAC