It’s All Meseraull in Merced’s USAC Midget Debut

Merced, California — For Thomas Meseraull, that coveted first points-paying race victory with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets was two decades in the making when he notched win number one in October.

 

Just a month and change later, Meseraull was celebrating victory number two on Friday night following the series’ first ever event at California’s Merced Speedway.  It was the San Jose, Calif. native’s first career USAC National points feature triumph that occurred in his home state.

 

Meseraull led the final 21 laps of the 30-lap feature, then endured a green-white-checkered finish to put the finishing touches on a winning performance in his RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Guess Performance Parts/Spike/Speedway Toyota.

 

His inauspicious beginnings to the west coast swing over the past week had resulted in finishes of 16th, 12th and 23rd in his three most recent outings entering Merced, but it was certainly not due to a lack of effort.

 

“I’m super stoked, especially with all the time and energy and money that gets spent to come out here to the west coast,” Meseraull said.  “We haven’t even broken the top-10 in the last three nights, and we’ve been really fast.  Racing circumstances just haven’t really played out.”

 

In his first night out in the team’s new coil car, which was inspired in part by Tanner Thorson’s recent success with the set up, Meseraull’s night began with a middling qualifying run of 18th against a 54-car field, which was the largest of the series’ 2020 season.  Meseraull responded with a heat race victory, which by virtue of a new rule implemented during the offseason, as a heat winner, he earned a feature starting position directly behind the six-car invert.

 

Slated to start seventh, Meseraull was elevated another position up the grid prior to the green flag due to fourth-starting Carson Macedo and team being late to staging, one of four teams that were docked two rows due to the penalty.  Now starting sixth, Meseraull was entrenched in the top-three battle along with Tanner Carrick and Daison Pursley by the conclusion of the first lap.

 

Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammates Pursley and Carrick went toe-to-toe throughout the early stages, racing side-by-side and exchanging sliders right on cue, Carrick leading the way to the line on eight of the first nine circuits with Pursley edging ahead on the fifth lap.

 

On the ninth lap, Meseraull upped the urgency level to 11 as he split his way between Carrick and Pursley to slot into second in turn three, then glided underneath Carrick between turns one and two to occupy the lead.

 

Not only was it the series’ first trip to Merced, the visit was also Meseraull’s racing debut at the 1/4-mile dirt oval.  His guide was his extensive experience and natural feel of the racetrack, while also having a weapon behind the wrenches that set the blueprint.

 

“Sometimes when running a new track, which I’ve never ran here before, you don’t necessarily know where to run or where not to run, so you’re just kind of winging it,” Meseraull explained.  “Hats off to (crew chief) Donnie Gentry for making the 7x good all night because the setup is so important in this along with our Speedway Toyota engine.  If your motor is not geared right, you’re just off.  It was just a great night where we got our package together.”

 

By the halfway point, Meseraull had launched to a 1.3 second advantage over Pursley, who had cleared Carrick a few moments later on the 18th lap for the runner-up position.  Now clear, Pursley began to peddle back into contention as Meseraull now negotiated a maze of cars at the tail end of the lead lap.

 

Five to go, four to go, three to go, tick…tick, tick, tick, the hands of time began to recoil as the interval shrank to a half second between Meseraull and Pursley with three laps remaining.  In that moment in time, Meseraull encountered Kaylee Bryson as he sought the proper path, low to middle to high, to overtake her and close it out while Pursley stayed the course up top.

 

With the white flag in sight coming out of turn four, Pursley lay just a handful of car lengths behind Meseraull.  However, just as quickly as it seemed Pursley might be able to set up a possible bid for victory, it all came to a crashing halt when Pursley banged his right rear tire off the turn four cushion, then slapped the right rear against the outside front straightaway guardrail, causing him to barrel roll twice over before landing on all four wheels.

 

Pursley was uninjured, but his attempt at a first career USAC National Midget victory ended in an unsavory, crumpled heap along the main straightaway.

 

During the red flag period, Meseraull had time to ponder.  He was fully cognizant of the fact that mistakes are forbidden during “winning time,” but remained undoubtedly confident that what he’d been doing thus far to that point was being executed with precision.

 

“Honestly, we were really good, and I was kind of cheating the curb, I guess you could say, off turns two and four because it was so ledgy,” Meseraull recalled.  “You can’t make mistakes while you’re leading, or guys will get by you.  I knew I could’ve maybe been running a faster spot, but we were pretty good where we were.”

 

With a green-white-checkered finish in play to conclude the race, slide jobs are a foregone conclusion at this juncture in this sect of auto racing.  However, Meseraull devised a plan win which he could still run his own race, but also prevent the inevitable slider from being issued by second-running Tanner Carrick on the final two-lap sprint.

 

“On the restart, I moved down and just ran two clean laps through the middle,” Meseraull explained.  “I didn’t think anybody had anything to drive around the outside of us.  This California air was really nice because that Toyota was ripping.”

 

Carrick looked topside, and he looked low once the green dropped, but there was no avenue to pursue a path past him as Meseraull owned the middle line and flexed his muscle as he crossed under the checkered flag 0.452 sec. ahead of a season-best performance turned in by Carrick, with Cannon McIntosh, Carson Macedo and hard charger, Tanner Thorson (from 15th), rounding out the top-five.

 

While Friday night’s Merced score was Meseraull’s first USAC National Midget points win of his career in the state of California, it was not his first rodeo in victory lane with USAC Midgets in the Golden State.  Previously, Meseraull had been victorious in three USAC Western States Midgets events between 2000-01 at Bakersfield, Stockton 99 and Perris.  He also tallied a win in a 2004 USAC Midget special event at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.

 

For the November western swing, Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.) made his return to KKM with whom he competed full-time for on the USAC National Midget trail between 2017-19. Carrick rewarded the team with a second-place finish Friday night at Merced, his best result of the 2020 season in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian/BBS Wheels – TRD – JBL Audio/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.

 

Carrick’s KKM teammate, Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) returned to the podium for the first-time since his victory at Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway on Sept. 25 by earning a third-place result at Merced in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian/TRD – Mobil1 – JBL Audio/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.

 

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Thomas Meseraull (6), 2. Tanner Carrick (2), 3. Cannon McIntosh (5), 4. Carson Macedo (8), 5. Tanner Thorson (15), 6. Shane Golobic (3), 7. Ryan Bernal (9), 8. Spencer Bayston (11), 9. Kyle Larson (19), 10. Emerson Axsom (14), 11. Mitchel Moles (7), 12. Buddy Kofoid (21), 13. Logan Seavey (16), 14. Tyler Courtney* (23), 15. Chris Windom (22), 16. Justin Grant (17), 17. Colby Copeland (18), 18. Kaylee Bryson (13), 19. Chase Randall (20), 20. Daison Pursley (1), 21. Zeb Wise (12), 22. Michael Faccinto (10), 23. Cole Bodine* (24), 24. Jesse Love (4). NT

* represents a provisional starter

 

-USAC Racing Press Releae

-Photo credit: Rich Forman

It’s All Meseraull in Merced’s USAC Midget Debut