PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. – Tanner Thorson put a week’s worth of hard luck and frustration behind him with a victory during night six of USAC Indiana Midget Week Thursday at Lincoln Park Speedway.
Thorson, wheeling the No. 19t for Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports, put to bed a five-race stretch of finishing no better than sixth with his first win of the week – extending a historic streak in the process.
The Minden, Nev., native became the sixth different winner in six races during Indiana Midget Week, with each winner representing a different car owner or team.
That’s a run that has never happened before in the 17-year history of the Hoosier State mini-series.
“It just goes to show how tough this field is and how many good drivers are running here,” tipped Thorson.
Thorson rolled off from the pole, took the lead on the initial start and never relinquished command, at times racing out to leads of two or more seconds as the field jockeyed for position behind him.
Early cautions at laps four and eight – for a tangle between Justin Grant and Kaylee Bryson in turn three and a stalled Kevin Thomas Jr. in turn one, respectively – slowed the pace, but Thorson’s restarts were a master class in how to get away from the field. He opened the margin each time and was unchallenged.
The ninth lap brought with it another caution, but this was one of the most game-changing, as incoming Indiana Midget Week point leader Chris Windom slowed with a flat right-rear tire that took him out of contention for a top finish and, later, tightened up the mini-series point battle considerably.
By halfway, Thorson had re-extended the lead gap to 1.666 seconds, and with 10 laps left it appeared he would cruise to an easy victory at the five-sixteenths-mile, red dirt oval.
Unfortunately, a red flag with nine to go for the flipped car of Brenham Crouch in turn four put the field on Thorson’s bumper and gave a sliver of hope to second-running Daison Pursley in the final laps.
Though Thorson got a little breathing room when the green flag waved for the final time on lap 22, Pursley kept him honest, staying within a half second until jumping the cushion in turn two with six laps left and allowing Thorson to escape to an insurmountable lead.
Thorson cruised home to victory lane after that, taking the checkered flag 1.393 seconds clear of Pursley, with Axsom filling out the podium ahead of Buddy Kofoid and hard charger Corey Day.
Cannon McIntosh was fighting for fourth in the final corner, only to spin out within sight of the checkered flag as the field was bearing down on him.
That forced a caution after the top three crossed the finish line, reverting the finishing order from fourth on back to the way they completed lap 29, with McIntosh dropped to the tail of the lead lap in 18th.
As Thorson celebrated in victory lane, he tipped the secret to his rekindled success: a completely rebuilt car from the one that his team raced with during the first half of Indiana Midget Week.
“It’s just a comfort feel,” Thorson explained. “It’s nothing really against that car or anything, but this is what I’ve built my whole setup around and everything I’ve accomplished over the last few years has been with this style of car and everything. We’ve got a lot of great people behind me, and it’s definitely been a struggle here lately, but it’s all coming forward.
“Stanton Racing has been working really hard to get this motor better and better for me. It’s not perfect but we’re getting there,” Thorson added. “This is definitely a little bit of a relief.”
With two races remaining, Pursley’s runner-up finish catapulted him to a slim, one-point lead over Windom in the updated Indiana Midget Week standings, with Kofoid just three points back.
Meanwhile, Kofoid retook the lead in the season-long driver standings by 18 over Windom.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.