Honda Midget National Championship leader Kevin Thomas, Jr. scored his second win of the season on Tuesday night at Solomon Valley Raceway after holding on through a grinding 30-lap “Chad McDaniel Memorial” feature. The Cullman, Alabama native led throughout but had to withstand two strong challenges for the lead and eight caution periods.
The Thomases, Kevin and Tyler, led the field to the green with Tyler slicing past into turn-three before Kevin drove down the track and off the bottom of turn-four with the lead.
On a lap-two restart, Spencer Bayston moved past Tyler for the second spot before ProSource “Fast Qualifier” Zach Daum slowed while running sixth. He was done for the night.
On lap seven, Christopher Bell cut past T. Thomas for third and tried a slide-job on Bayston for second, but the two made contact and went over the turn-two bank, with T. Thomas scrambling to grab second and bringing Bryan Clauson with him.
The leaders entered traffic just before halfway, and as a car spun in turn-four to bring out a yellow, T. Thomas got caught up in the cars slowing for the caution in turn-two and got spun around. He restarted at the back.
That put Clauson in the second spot, and he was all over K. Thomas for the lead. Using a restart on lap 19, Clauson snuck under K. Thomas down the fronstretch and slid up in front of him with the lead, but fifth-running Cody Brewer spun behind them to return K. Thomas to the lead. On lap 20, pushing the envelope off turn-four, Clauson caught the frontstretch fence and sent sparks flying.
Clauson finally got his rhythm again and tracked down the leader, who was having trouble negotiating a very tricky top side. On lap 26, Clauson tried a turn-one slidejob for the lead that produced some contact between Thomas’ front bumper and Clauson’s back bumper. Thomas turned down the track to regain the lead, but Clauson came at him again in turn-three. Thomas was again up for the challenge and crossed him over to retain his lead, just as Clauson slowed with apparent issues under the hood.
That final caution gave Thomas’ teammate, ninth-starting Tanner Thorson, a final opportunity to strike for the win. He gained on him at the white flag and got a run through turns one and two, throwing one final slider at him in the final set of corners, but he fell short as Thomas won by .610-seconds in the Toyota TRD – Bakken Concrete #67K Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I was happy to see the checkered tonight – I was losing even more hair tonight. I messed up on one restart and got slid, and it would have been game over against Clauson if it wasn’t for luck. Tonight, a couple of cautions played our way. You had to be nearly perfect up there, and the few times I wasn’t, they were right there. That was really hard racing with Bryan, and it was really just a hectic race with as difficult as the top was and as close to the edge as it was,” Thomas said.
Thorson finished off a fine run by staying out of trouble and advancing all the way to the runner-up spot in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“It was pretty crazy up front all night with some close slide-jobs, and a lot of guys not giving each other much room. Our car came in really well late in the race and gave us a shot to pass KT for the win, but we just couldn’t quite find enough grip to go by him. I would have liked one more shot at him with the momentum I was building, and I would have liked to drive in there and try to get him to lift. He drove a great race, though, and fought those guys back, and our team is just getting stronger and stronger every race,” Thorson said.
Tracy Hines, coming back from after sitting out two weeks with injuries from multiple crashes in June into early July, ended up rounding out the podium and taking over second in the point standings aboard the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. #24 Spike/Stanton Toyota.
“Sometimes, you have to stay in there and not make the mistake of trying to do too much. I tried to get more at Sun Prairie two weeks out of breaking the clavicle, still with the point lead, and ended up hurting myself worse. We were really fast early on in the night, but in the feature we weren’t that good. We could hold our own, but mainly had to avoid what was going on in front of us. Tonight, it ended up that we snuck to third, and I’ll take it,” Hines said.
Tyler Thomas rebounded from his earlier tangle to finish fourth, but he failed to report to the scales for post-race inspection and was scored last. Bayston advanced to the fourth spot in the Bryan Clauson Racing – Priority Aviation Services #39 Spike/Esslinger, and Tucker Klaasmeyer rounded out the top-five in the WCI, Inc. – Price Chopper #27K Spike/Toyota, earning the race “Hard Charger Award” after starting 17th.
USAC HONDA MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 28, 2015 – Beloit, Kansas – Solomon Valley Raceway -“Chad McDaniel Memorial”
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-12.624; 2. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-12.741; 3. Bryan Clauson, 63, RKR/Curb-Agajanian-12.742; 4. Spencer Bayston, 39, Clauson-12.794; 5. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-12.799; 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.815; 7. Christopher Bell, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.818; 8. Jerry Coons, Jr., 27, Heffner-12.849; 9. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.875; 10. Keith Rauch, 47, Mason-13.128; 11. Chett Gehrke, 11c, Matteson-13.144; 12. Bob Harr, 2H, Halarr-13.170; 13. Cody Brewer, 96, Central-13.205; 14. David Wheeler, 31R, Clark-13.216; 15. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple-13.238; 16. C.J. Johnson, 45x, Martin-13.397; 17. Troy Simpson, 7, Simpson-13.464; 18. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27K, Klaasmeyer-13.564; 19. Mark Hamilton, 76H, Hamilton-13.949; 20. Garett Hood, 727, McMillan-14.306.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bell, 2. Bayston, 3. Daum, 4. Rauch, 5. Brewer, 6. Hamilton, 7. Johnson. 2:11.94
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. T. Thomas, 2. Coons, 3. Hines, 4. Gehrke, 5. Hood, 6. Wheeler, 7. Simpson. NT
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. Thorson, 3. Klaasmeyer, 4. K. Thomas, 5. Chapple, 6. Harr. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Tracy Hines, 4. Spencer Bayston, 5. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 6. Cody Brewer, 7. Keith Rauch, 8. Bob Harr, 9. David Wheeler, 10. Mark Hamilton, 11. Bryan Clauson, 12. Christopher Bell, 13. C.J. Johnson, 14. Garett Hood, 15. Troy Simpson, 16. Zach Daum, 17. Jerry Coons, Jr. 18. Chett Gehrke, 19. Isaac Chapple, 20. Tyler Thomas. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 K.Thomas