CHARLESTON, Ill. – Buddy Kofoid spun, then won with a thrilling POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League performance Friday night during the opening half of the SuperClean Illiana Showdown presented by Lucas Outdoor Line at Charleston Speedway.
Kofoid, who started ninth but was shuffled deep in the field on the initial start before spinning in turn three on lap four, spent most of the main playing catchup from there at the three-eighths-mile dirt oval.
However, he methodically worked his way back into contention and was in position to capitalize on a restart with 10 laps left, when he fired a slide job into turn one to wrest control of the race away from his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate, Daison Pursley.
Though Pursley fired back with several challenges down the stretch, including a side-by-side battle at the white flag, Kofoid reached the checkers first by .605 seconds for his fifth POWRi win in six starts this year.
It was his second win at Charleston and his 12th win in 24 career POWRi starts – a 50 percent win rate.
“Early on, I was just trying to stay out of trouble. Then I got tagged and spun out, but coming from last to first is pretty good,” said Kofoid in victory lane. “The car tightened up a little in the last couple laps and I knew Daison would be there to capitalize. I just tried all I could to keep him behind me.
“I can’t thank Toyota and Mobil 1 enough for everything they do for me. And thank you to everyone at Keith Kunz Motorsports for giving me such a great car.”
For most of the 30-lapper, it was Pursley who was in command, after he took the lead from polesitter Jade Avedisian on the opening circuit and didn’t set a wheel wrong in the IWX Motor Freight No. 71x.
Avedisian gave chase through several early restarts and appeared to have a car faster than Pursley’s at times, but bicycled her front tires in turn one after getting a run at Pursley and flipped over the banking in turn two 14 laps in.
Though Avedisian was uninjured, her night was over at that point, leaving Pursley with seemingly no challengers at the midpoint of the feature.
But three caution flags and six laps later, Kofoid had risen from eighth to second and found himself right on Pursley’s bumper, after a lap-20 yellow erased Pursley’s commanding two-second lead over the field.
The next restart was when Kofoid pounced, surging to the bottom of turn one, sliding across Pursley’s nose and then using the momentum of the outside lane to clear Pursley on the other end of the track.
From there, it was Kofoid’s race to lose, despite two caution flags in the closing laps that kept Pursley within striking distance.
Following the final restart with four laps left, Pursley set Kofoid up, then lobbed a bomb into turn three to pull alongside Kofoid coming across the stripe at the white flag – missing the lead by .002 of a second.
But that was Pursley’s last shot, as Kofoid pulled back away on the final lap en route to victory lane.
“Buddy’s really good right now. I just needed to pick it up a little bit when I was out front,” lamented Pursley. “We’re getting there. It’s kind of hard to lose this one after leading so many laps, though.”
Bryant Wiedeman crossed third to give Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports a sweep of the podium, followed by Big Al Motorsports’ Joe B. Miller and Petry Motorsports’ Emerson Axsom.
Debuting rookie Corey Day, Brent Crews, Shelby Bosie, Joey Wirth and Cannon McIntosh closed the top 10.
With his runner-up finish Friday night, Pursley took over the POWRi national midget points lead from defending champion Jake Neuman, who spun to bring out the final yellow and finished 15th.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.