GRANITE CITY, Ill. — There’s just no stopping Tanner Thorson when it comes to winning USAC National Midget Series races at Tri-City Speedway.
Thorson stormed to his fourth straight Gold Crown Midget Nationals win at the three-eighths-mile oval on Friday night, leading every lap of the caution-free affair and establishing a new 35-lap track record in winning for the fourth straight time, dating back to last year’s event.
He was also able dig a little closer to the point lead, as he now sits just 15 points behind teammate Spencer Bayston in the latest series standings with three events remaining including Saturday’s Gold Crown finale.
Thorson began the feature from outside of the front row alongside Brady Bacon and immediately established the point as the field hit turn one on the opening lap.
Bacon, another driver in the thick of the series point race, encountered trouble one night prior after suffering a cut tire while leading with six laps to go. Bacon settled into second in the early going, running the high side as Thorson worked the bottom.
Suddenly, on lap six, heartbreak met Bacon for the second consecutive night as his mount began to slow dramatically entering turn three, resulting in an early exit, a 20th place finish and the loss of substantial ground in the title race — a race that he now finds himself 74 points out of the lead after entering Thursday down just 22.
With Bacon now out of sight, no one was able to put up much of a fight on Thorson for the remaining 30 laps and, though, Thorson quickly distanced himself to a three-second lead by the 15th lap, he was unable to completely break away from his fellow competitors involved in the point race.
With his pass on Thursday night runner-up Zach Daum, Chad Boat positioned himself in third, a straightaway behind leader Thorson and Bayston with 20 to go.
The only obstacle separating Thorson from certain victory in the second half of the contest was lapped traffic. But, with a full straightway lead, Thorson was in a zone and a backmarker or two wasn’t going to trip him up on this night.
Thorson had to negotiate the eighth, ninth and tenth place cars with less than five laps to go as the battle for position between Holly Shelton, Jerry Coons Jr. and Kyle Jones waged on in front of the leader.
Thorson had little trouble as he stuck to the bottom while the lappers pursued the high side, providing Thorson a clear path to an eventual, commanding 4.85-second victory over Bayston, Boat, Ryan Robinson and Carson Macedo.