MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Driver development wasn’t something Chad Boat thought about during his days as a driver, but it’s a topic that has come to the forefront of his mind as a team owner.
While Chris Windom continues to spearhead CB Industries’ pursuit of a second straight USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series championship, Boat has begun building out the next generation of talent within his organization by fielding cars for three teenagers in POWRi midget competition this year.
Oklahoma’s Ryan Timms, California’s Jade Avedisian and North Carolina’s Brent Crews are all competing with Boat this season as his team broached the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget League waters for the first time on a regular basis.
Timms and Crews are chasing both rookie-of-the-year honors and the season-long championship, while Avedisian is running a select schedule of roughly 20 races in a CB Industries car.
The fruits of Boat’s labor with two of his young drivers have become readily visible in a hurry, both in the midget ranks and in supplementary micro sprint competition.
Last weekend at Charleston (Ill.) Speedway, Avedisian started from the pole and ran second to Daison Pursley for the first half of the Friday night POWRi feature before a turn-two flip relegated her to the sidelines for the balance of the race.
Crews showed pace of his own, running second to Pursley during Saturday’s 30-lapper, his fourth top-five finish in nine races with the POWRi National Midget League.
Crews and Avedisian were pitted against one another in micro sprints Tuesday night at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, N.C., competing for a $1,000 prize as part of the two-day Patriot Shootout at the sixth-mile dirt oval.
Crews ultimately won the 40-lap feature, finishing just in front of Avedisian after a late-race battle through slower traffic on a razor-thin cushion that left little margin for error.
After the race, both drivers credited knowledge gained from Boat and their recent strong runs in midget racing as keys to the development they’ve shown behind the wheel — whether in micros or midgets.
“Running a midget, and also a (360 winged) sprint car, in my case, has helped me a lot with passing and understanding how to handle myself in lapped traffic,” Crews explained. “Those cars are so fast compared to what I did starting out, that you really have to be prepared for anything at a moment with how much thinks can sneak up on you or go wrong. Those skills adapt both ways, even though the micro feels a bit like a slow go-kart, so it helps you build that skillset and be prepared for any type of situation.”
“For me, I think it has helped a lot, being in the midget the last couple of weeks, because you have to drive those things so hard,” Avedisian added. “When I’ve come back into the micro sprint, I’ve realized that I can drive it as just as hard and be just as fast as long as I don’t make too many mistakes. I can’t thank Chad enough, though. Having someone like him in my corner is a big help, because even if I go fastest in hot laps, he always comes back with something I can improve on, and that’s a big deal for me.”
Boat has been pleased with the progress he’s seen out of the POWRi arm of his operation —Timms sits inside the top 10 in points as well, in ninth — and tipped he knew there would be a learning curve with getting a new crop of drivers up to speed before things began falling into place.
“Obviously, we have three super-talented drivers running POWRi this year, with Ryan and Brent full time and then Jade part time. I think the biggest thing for all of them has been just getting used to racing around the POWRi regulars, and you’re starting to see them make moves now that maybe they wouldn’t have been comfortable making at first,” Boat noted. “They all have the skillset to be successful, but just needed to learn how to race the heavy hitters. Slowly but surely, their effort is being rewarded now.
“I said at the start that I think that the sky’s the limit for our team, realistically, and I still believe that. As our young drivers continue to grow, I believe they’ll be able to show that the best is yet to come.”
In Avedisian’s case, the Clovis, Calif., native is seeking to write a page of racing history with CB Industries by becoming the first female driver to win a national midget feature.
Both Holly Shelton and Holley Hollan have finished second in recent years, and Avedisian is motivated to go one spot better.
“I know that’s something that has been talked about for a long time and I would love to be the one to accomplish that,” Avedisian said. “I hope we can get it soon; obviously, we had the pace to try for it last weekend and things just didn’t quite work out the way we needed them to. We’ll keep working at it.”
Crews, however, hopes to become the youngest POWRi champion in history at 13 years old. He’s set records in both pavement and dirt karting throughout his career, and believes POWRi success is the next step in that progression.
“We keep dialing in our cars more and more, as I’ve kept getting better and better and as I get more seat time we’re hoping for the first win,” Crews tipped. “Second at Charleston told us we were capable and now we just have to finish the job.”