GRANITE CITY, Ill. — official series release — David Nearpass photo —
Tanner Thorson made a statement on Friday night with a resounding victory in the night’s 25-lap Honda National Midget main event, kicking off the Gold Crown Midget Nationals at Tri-City Speedway.
The Minden, Nev., driver was on top of points after heat races and qualifying races, which included finish and passing points, to earn the pole of the feature. From there, he took off and was largely unchallenged on his way to a 3.378-second victory in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“(Thomas) Meseraull and I have a bit of a rivalry going, so I got him off the start and knew he’d bring some big restarts at us late in the race, so I had to hit one and two as hard as I could,” Thorson said. “He definitely ran it in hard, and I knew I had to run it in hard and hit the cushion and come off with the wheels up. I searched around a little bit early and through the middle of the race, but we got the momentum going around the top and were really strong as the race went on. It’s good to be sitting well for tomorrow and get ourselves a really good win tonight.”
Thorson saw two different bids for his lead during the race, with the early one being Steve Buckwalter. Buckwalter used the low side to take second in the early laps and move underneath Thorson by lap-four, but the leader dropped low and pulled away from Buckwalter.
On lap eight, contact between Kevin Thomas Jr. and Darren Hagen while racing for eighth ended with National point leader Thomas in the frontstretch wall and out of the race.
Second-running Meseraull then lined up to take his shot at Thorson, and he held with him for the first few laps after the restart. Behind him, Buckwalter was having a battle with 11th-starting Tyler Thomas, who had jumped to fourth in the first few laps. Jerry Coons, Jr., Tracy Hines, and Zach Daum were battling hard behind them.
With 10 laps to go, Chris Windom spun from the 10th spot, and this time Meseraull was geared up for the restart. He fired to the inside of Thorson into turn-one but slid up behind him. Buckwalter and Thomas continued to go at it for third, as Daum finally took fifth and Dave Darland started to enter the fray on the very bottom.
A final caution flag with six laps to go for Andrew Felker, who stopped to relinquish the tenth spot, set up one final chance for Meseraull. He nailed the restart again and slid all the way up in turn two, nearly making contact with Thorson who was in the throttle and powered through to keep the lead as they exited turn two. He pulled away in the closing laps to take his second victory of the season.
Meseraull brought home the Great Clips – Shane Hmiel’s S.P.A.R.K. No. 56 Triple X/Esslinger in the second spot.
“I really wanted to get him,” he said. “I know our engines take off well, and we had a chance at him on the restarts. Our car was really good, but we lost brakes about halfway through. This is the first time in this car over here, so it’s nice to start off strong and give ourselves a good chance at tomorrow.”
Buckwalter fended off Thomas and Daum in the closing laps to round out the podium in the Buckwalter’s Roofing – VRP Shocks No. 25 Elite/Ott by Deppe.
“In the beginning, I thought I might have something on the bottom. They just got twisted up on the top, and I went up there, but my motor just wouldn’t pull us off the top quite as well as we needed to. We had some great battles back and forth, really going at each other all the way through the race. Our car was pretty good, and it was fun racing those guys,” Buckwalter said.
Daum came from ninth to claim fourth with Tyler Thomas fifth.
RESULTS:Honda USAC National Dirt Midget Series; Gold Crown Midget Nationals pres. by DuPont; Tri City Speedway; September 4, 2015
FEATURE: (25 laps) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Steve Buckwalter, 4. Zach Daum, 5. Tyler Thomas, 6. Darren Hagen, 7. Jerry Coons, Jr., 8. Dave Darland, 9. Tracy Hines, 10. Brad Loyet, 11. Spencer Bayston, 12. Chris Windom, 13. Payton Pierce, 14. Justin Peck, 15. Isaac Chapple, 16. Andy Malpocker, 17. Andrew Felker, 18. Jacob Patton, 19. Ryan Greth, 20. Jim Radney, 21. Joey Rinne, 22. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 23. Davey Ray, 24. Johnny Murdock.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-25 Thorson.
CREDIT: USAC Racing