COLUMBUS, Ind. — What does two days off for a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series team look like in the midst of Indiana Midget Week?
Up until now, no one knew the answer to that question, primarily because the Indiana Midget Week schedule had featured six straight nights of racing in year’s past.
This season, however, the layout of Indiana Midget Week was altered to feature eight races in a 10-day period, opening Monday and Tuesday for teams to regroup and prepare for the back end of the mini-series.
Time off in the middle of a busy stretch of races is a luxury rarely available in motorsports to begin with, so the fact that a break was strategically placed during one of the most grueling portions of the USAC national midget schedule was something not lost on teams and drivers alike.
For the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports squad, which is seeking its sixth Indiana Midget Week title, it was business as usual in the back of the team’s Columbus, Ind., shop on Tuesday.
“Two days off doesn’t really mean two days off around here,” tipped KKM shop manager Beau Binder. “It just means more time for us to make maintenance a little easier than what it used to be during this week.”
As SPEED SPORT and Sprint Car & Midget observed during a two-hour visit to the KKM complex, the main focus was on a full round of teardown and cleanup before its six-car fleet was reassembled ahead of Wednesday’s Indiana Midget Week round at Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis.
Gears were being cleaned and greased, engine components were being checked over and tweaked as necessary andbody panels were being reinstalled, among other jobs after four consecutive nights of racing.
It’s a process that Jarrett Martin, the crew chief for Buddy Kofoid’s No. 67, said has been much more rushed and compacted during his past Indiana Midget Week experiences. This time around, with an extra 48 hours to work with, Martin said his workload has been somewhat more relaxed.
“I’ve only been a part of two previous [Indiana] Midget Weeks, and the first one [in 2019], we had a rainout, so it was only five days in a row,” recalled Martin. “Last year, obviously, it was pretty tough, but it’s nice to have a break like this just for everyone to reset and breathe a little bit. I think once you get to racing any more than three or four days [in a row], that’s when guys really start to get a little bit frazzled and it gets a lot tougher on everybody past that point.
“It’s definitely nice,” Martin added. “We get a chance to catch up; it’s still a lot of work through these couple of days, but it definitely helps a lot to have the extra time.”
Though KKM had a solid start to Indiana Midget Week — with Buddy Kofoid ranking second in Midget Week points through four races — the first half of the mini-series wasn’t without its challenges.
Both Brenham Crouch and Bryant Wiedeman endured flips during the opening four nights of action that required spare cars to be pulled out and extra repairs made to their primary cars.
Martin noted that, among other things, straightening out Wiedeman’s car from Saturday’s crash at Lawrenceburg Speedway was chief among the team’s “unexpected” challenges.
“At the track, the extra work actually wasn’t too bad,” explained Martin. “We just took everything off the broken cars — seats and miscellaneous pieces and everything — and bolted them to new ones that we already had ready. Once we got back to the shop, we had to sort through everything. We only ran five drivers last week, but now we’ve got seven cars to work on, since we pulled down two backups and we’ve got a couple of those cars that we had to move back around. We’re also building one new car.
“It does create a lot of extra back-and-forth work and maintenance on everything to get it all right.”
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