LARSON HANGS ON TO WIN KOKOMO; HAGEN LOCKS UP “MIDGET WEEK” TITLE
Kokomo, Indiana.……Elk Grove, California’s Kyle Larson held back the advances of his teammate Bryan Clauson late in Sunday’s 30-lap Mopar National Midget Main Event at Kokomo Speedway to finish “Indiana Midget Week” in victory lane. Larson countered a turn-one slide-job from Clauson and repelled the two-time and defending Midget champion coming to the checkered to take the win in the Keith Kunz Motorsports – Toyota TRD #71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
Larson started from row three and moved to the front mostly utilizing the bottom groove. Up on the tall Kokomo cushion was New Zealand’s Michael Pickens, who powered to the front on lap two. Four straight cautions in the middle portion of the race set up restarts, with cars heading in all directions looking for positions. Pickens dropped to the bottom of turn-one on the lap 18 restart, but Larson shot in behind him and tagged the back of the BSL Racing – Auckland SsangYong #1NZ Breka/Esslinger, sending Pickens spinning across the track. Last year’s Kokomo winner restarted at the tail and finished 18th.
From there, Larson was smooth up on the cushion as Tracy Hines continued to work the bottom and Clauson got going on the top. With just a few laps remaining, Clauson caught his teammate and fired a slide-job that Larson crossed over to retain the lead. With two more runs at Larson, Clauson looked low in turn-three only to slide up behind Larson coming to the line.
“I hate to win it that way. I feel really bad for Pickens. I expected him to go high again, and I just got into him. I really don’t wanna win that way – we were really good and I was looking forward to racing with him. It was a lot of fun racing Bryan there at the end. The curb was getting really tall, so it was tough to get through there, but we beat him off the corner to win it,” Larson said.
Clauson came up just short in his pursuit of a second win on the week, after winning Thursday at Lincoln Park Speedway, but made it a 1-2 finish for his team in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I hope everyone enjoyed that one. It was a lot of fun. I’m tired of losing to him, but it was a great run for our Keith Kunz Toyota. We were better the last five laps there, but with it being slick across like that, it’s tough to pull the slide-job and keep him from turning under off the corner. We had to come from deep tonight, so it was a good run for us,” Clauson said of his run from 12th to finish second.
Tracy Hines rounded out the podium in the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. #24 Spike/Speedway Toyota, just edging out Chris Windom for second in “Midget Week” points.
“I was set up for the bottom, and we were good for a while there, but it finally went away and I had to jump up top and try to hold our position. Another great night for our Parker team and Toyota power,” Hines said.
Brad Kuhn finished fourth in the Rotondo Weirich – Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil #17 Beast/Fontana, while Windom rounded out the top-five after leading the opening lap in the Wilke-Pak Racers – Speedway Motors #11 Spike/Stanton Toyota.
Darren Hagen finished sixth and easily wrapped up the “Indiana Midget Week” championship, as the Kokomo event produced his only finish of the week outside the top-four in the RFMS Racing – Liberty Village #3 DRC/Esslinger.
MOPAR USAC NATIONAL MIDGET RACE RESULTS: June 17, 2012 – Kokomo, IN – Kokomo Speedway – “Indiana Midget Week”
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-13.506; 2. Kyle Larson, 71, Kunz-13.567; 3. Michael Pickens, 1NZ, Buckley-13.641; 4. Caleb Armstrong, 7c, C&A-13.643; 5. Brad Kuhn, 17, RW-13.694; 6. Rico Abreu, 67K, Kunz-13.704; 7. Chris Windom, 11, Wilke-13.720; 8. Davey Ray, 33, RayPro-13.757; 9. Darren Hagen, 3, RFMS-13.803; 10. Mario Clouser, 27, RW-13.894; 11. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-13.900; 12. Taylor Ferns, 55, Ferns-13.909; 13. Alex Bright, 77, Hemler-13.935; 14. Chris Bell, 21B, Lowe-13.953; 15. Thomas Meseraull, 16, Sandy-13.958; 16. Bryan Clauson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.964; 17. Steve Buckwalter, 25, Buckwalter-13.971; 18. Dillon Welch, 39, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-14.059; 19. Jerry Coons, Jr., 63, Dooling-14.132; 20. Dalton Armstrong, 7A, C&A-14.145; 21. Andy Malpocker, 22, Malpocker-14.186; 22. Nathan Smee, 7x, Cooper-14.204; 23. Michael Koontz, 17x, Koontz-14.212; 24. Trevor Kobylarz, 49, Kobylarz-14.242; 25. Dave Darland, 10, Moore-14.254; 26. Chase Barber, 191, Barber-14.277; 27. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 17K, Koontz-14.307; 28. Chris Gurley, 12, Team Automotive-14.396; 29. Nick Wean, 78, Wean-14.438; 30. Ryan Smith, 33x, Steward-14.471; 31. Levi Jones, 56, Hmiel-14.556; 32. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple-14.699; 33. Austin Burke, 54, Burke-14.929; 34. Scott Hatton, 15, Huston-NT (time of 14.442 disallowed).
FIRST HEAT : (10 laps) 1. Buckwalter, 2. Hines, 3. Hagen, 4. Kuhn, 5. Malpocker, 6. Bright, 7. Burke, 8. Darland, 9. Wean. NT
SECOND HEAT : (10 laps) 1. Abreu, 2. Larson, 3. Welch, 4. Smee, 5. Barber, 6. Bell, 7. Clouser, 8. Hatton, 9. Smith. 2:25.34
THIRD HEAT : (10 laps) 1. Coons, 2. Windom, 3. Pickens, 4. Meseraull, 5. Thomas, 6. Koontz, 7. Daum, 8. Jones. 2:22.52
FOURTH HEAT : (10 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. D. Armstrong, 3. Ray, 4. Kobylarz, 5. Ferns, 6. Gurley, 7. C. Armstrong. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Clouser, 2. Darland, 3. Jones, 4. Bright, 5. Hatton, 6. Barber, 7. Bell, 8. Malpocker, 9. Gurley, 10. Ferns, 11. Burke, 12. Koontz, 13. Thomas, Jr., 14. Daum, 15. Smith, 16. Wean. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Kyle Larson, 2. Bryan Clauson, 3. Tracy Hines, 4. Brad Kuhn, 5. Chris Windom, 6. Darren Hagen, 7. Jerry Coons, Jr., 8. Dave Darland, 9. Scott Hatton, 10. Rico Abreu, 11. Caleb Armstrong, 12. Dalton Armstrong, 13. Steve Buckwalter, 14. Davey Ray, 15. Trevor Kobylarz, 16. Nathan Smee, 17. Dillon Welch, 18. Michael Pickens, 19. Levi Jones, 20. Mario Clouser, 21. Thomas Meseraull, 22. Alex Bright, 23. Chase Barber, 24. Zach Daum. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Windom, Laps 2-17 Pickens, Laps 18-30 Larson.
**Burke flipped in the Semi.
NEW MOPAR NATIONAL MIDGET POINTS: 1-Hagen-649; 2-Hines-503; 3-Larson-458; 4-Windom-442; 5-C.Armstrong-431; 6-Clauson-420; 7-Bobby East-397; 8-Kuhn-367; 9-Clouser-358; 10-Jones-357.
NEW INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Hagen-322; 2-Hines-278; 3-Windom-277; 4-Coons-248; 5-Clauson-203; 6-Larson-196; 7-Buckwalter-184; 8-Bright-175; 9-Abreu-158; 10-Kuhn-157.
NEXT MOPAR NATIONAL MIDGET RACE: June 22 – Newton, IA – Iowa Speedway