It's Buddy Kofoid vs. Justin Grant as Midget Week Begins
Jun 3, 2022
Consider Buddy Kofoid at the Snowball Derby or Winchester 400.
Over the past two years, the vaunted Toyota Racing Development prospect has participated in some of the biggest races on dirt, but those roads all lead him to pavement.
Before the 20-year-old wunderkind claimed the 2021 USAC National Midget Series championship or earned victories across multiple open-wheel dirt categories, Kofoid was just a NASCAR fan who grew up cheering for Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Sundays.
It’s only natural that he would want to race on Sundays too.
"My goal has always been to get to NASCAR," Kofoid told Racing America on Friday. "This is before I started in karts, but we watched NASCAR on Sundays and Dale was my hero. I always wanted to be like Dale Jr. and I still do. I wanted to race what he raced and raced where he raced. I've always wanted to make it to the NASCAR Cup Series."
Kofoid received a taste of the spotlight on April 16 when he made his Camping World Truck Series debut in the Bristol Dirt Race for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He contended for the win in the final laps before spinning with Ty Majeski inside the top-five.
Even though it didn’t end well, Kofoid loved the vibes of racing at Thunder Valley.
"It was going well until it wasn't," Kofoid said. "But being there in that atmosphere and hearing the fans and reading the reactions online to the race, the excitement, it just solidified that NASCAR is what I want to do."
Kofoid is again full-time in USAC chasing a second straight midget championship for Keith Kunz Motorsports but is also racing Sprint Cars and Champ Cars on dirt. He began moonlighting on pavement in Pro Late Models last year with Donnie Wilson Motorsports.
Even though he’s shown well at that level in his limited experience, he says that’s been the biggest challenge of his career to date -- adjusting from driving a high powered, lightweight dirt car across dirt to the momentum-based pavement racing.
"It’s definitely more of a finesse kind of racing," Kofoid said. "You make speed different. I have a ton of confidence in the team and their cars and I’m just really critical on myself in those cars. I want to do really well.
"I’m starting to figure it out. We led laps in the Pro Late Model portion of the All-American and battled a stagger issue, but really looking forward to doing more of that this year."'
Toyota Racing Development president and general manager David Wilson has said that he anticipates the OEM to challenge Kofoid this season with his assignments. Without getting into the specifics of that schedule, Kofoid is looking forward to getting in a Super Late Model
"Not that I’m saying I’m going to be good at it, but I do think having more power is going to suit my driving style because of my dirt experience," Kofoid said. "I definitely want to race the Derby, the Super Late portion of the All-American. I really would love to take one of those cars around Winchester for the 400. Speedweeks at New Smyrna. I just want to race more."
It’s one thing to read the quote and another to listen to the enthusiasm he has for pavement and NASCAR. But he loves dirt too and hopes to cross several items off the bucket list this season. He says he’s heartbroken at the Silver Crown race at Terre Haute that was his to lose before a suspension failure sent him upside down from the lead in the closing laps.
Kofoid will likely enter several more marquee Sprint Car and Silver Crown races this year in addition to an expanded stock car schedule.
In the midst of a USAC Midget championship battle with Justin Grant and several months removed from a Chili Bowl battle with the likes of Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Tanner Thorson, Kofoid is looking forward to learning more about Bubba Pollard, Stephen Nasse and Ty Majeski.
"I'm so focused on my dirt stuff that I don't really know who is fast there," Kofoid said. "Like, I know the names and I know who I need to be racing with in the Pro Late Model, but I can't wait to spend more time in the North Carolina scene and race those guys someday.
"Donnie and Bond's Super Late Model stuff is really good and I hope we can run all the big races together too."