FAIRBURY, Neb. — Tanner Thorson drove to his first USAC National Midget victory of the season in Jefferson County Speedway’s second annual Riverside Chevrolet Tuesday Night Thunder presented by Fairbury-Westin Meats.
Thorson, the reigning series champion from Minden, Nev., made repeated challenges for the race lead on Tyler Thomas throughout the first half of the 40-lap main event.
On lap 25, Thorson made the winning move with a successful turn four slider and from there, he never relinquished the point en route to his 11th career series triumph.
Tuesday night’s victory was the first for Thorson in nearly 10 months, and his win in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports No. 67 was the latest in the season a defending USAC National Midget champion has gone before scoring his first win since Jerry Coons Jr. in 2008.
As Thomas broke away for the lead, Thorson knew he had the car and the ability as well as the inclination that traffic would most likely come into play, so he waited until the race came to him.
“When I got close to Tyler (Thomas) in the beginning part of the race, I knew it was still pretty early,” Thorson said. “I just wanted to be in ride mode. He ended up pulling away from me for a little bit. We ended up running him back down because of lapped traffic.”
“We’re not used to having these longer races, so 10 more laps are a little bit different and it’s a little bit harder. More laps definitely played into our favor instead of us trying to go all out at once at the beginning part of the race.”
For Thomas, conservation wasn’t a viable option. As soon as he pushed off for the start of the feature and gassed his car up for the first time, he noticed an off-kilter sound that was out of the ordinary.
As it turned out, Thomas’ engine was down a cylinder.
Despite the mechanical bug, by lap 15 Thomas’ lead was 1.7 seconds over Thorson, but it ultimately didn’t work out for the former driver in the end.
“The way the track was, it was really fast around the top compared to the bottom,” Thorson added. “If you left the groove, it was hard to get back up into it without getting into somebody. I was trying to be very careful and respectful without getting into Tyler. I don’t like racing that way. We just played it patient. He ran into some lapped traffic and then we were lucky enough to get a yellow. That definitely saved us.”
Following a lap 24 caution for the stopped car of Justin Grant, Thorson did what he had to do to get the top spot and never looked back again.
Brady Bacon advanced from fourth to second following the race’s final restart with three laps to go, finishing in the runner-up spot. Thomas led 24 laps and came home third, ahead of Shane Golobic and Christopher Bell.
The USAC National Midget points race tightened up as well Tuesday night, with Bacon moving into second ahead of Golobic. Both Bacon and Golobic are tied at 319 points, but Bacon holds the tiebreaker with two wins.
They stand 14 points behind Bayston, who finished sixth Tuesday night.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…