Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) won his third career Lincoln Park Speedway USAC Indiana Midget Week feature Thursday night after previous triumphs at the track in both 2016 and 2019. David Nearpass Photo
THORSON TROUNCES FIELD FOR 3RD CAREER PUTNAMVILLE IMW VICTORY
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Putnamville, Indiana (June 10, 2021)………A newly-constructed chassis delivered satisfyingly familiar results for Tanner Thorson on Thursday night as the Minden, Nev. native collected his third Lincoln Park Speedway victory in USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget competition during round six of USAC Indiana Midget Week.
Thorson and Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports’ Thursday night domination also continued an unprecedented USAC Indiana Midget Week streak in the process.
With six IMW races complete, six different teams have now captured a feature victory: RMS Racing at Paragon; Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports at Bloomington; Tom Malloy at Lawrenceburg; Glenn Styres Racing at Tri-State; Clauson Marshall Racing at Circle City; and now Reinbold-Underwood at Lincoln Park. The previous record had been five different teams back in 2010.
Thorson, personally, had previously won at LPS in both 2016 and 2019, and his third win at the Putnamville, Ind. dirt oval tied him with Bryan Clauson as the winningest driver at the track in USAC National Midget competition.
A less than ideal first half of Indiana Midget Week, which saw results of 13th, 6th, 13th and 9th in his first four outings, led to a vent of frustration for Thorson and a desire to right the ship for the second half. Thorson went to work in the two “off” days between Indiana Midget Week races and pieced together a new ride.
The new version of the Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical – The Healing Tree/Spike/Stanton SR-11x debuted with a solid 16thto 8th run Wednesday night at Circle City Raceway, then truly hit its sweet spot at LPS, right within his comfort zone.
“It’s just a comfort feel,” Thorson explained. “It’s nothing really against that car or anything, but this is what I’ve built my whole setup around and everything I’ve accomplished over the last few years has been with this style of car and everything.
We’ve got a lot of great people behind me, and it’s definitely been a struggle here lately, but it’s all coming forward. Stanton racing’s been working really hard to get this motor better and better for me. It’s not perfect but we’re getting there. This is definitely a little bit of a relief.”
Thorson’s 22 career USAC National Midget feature victories moved him past Steve Cannon, Jimmy Caruthers, Rex Easton and Ken Schrader on the all-time list and into a tie with Bobby East and Shorty Templeman for 27th all-time.
As fate would have it, two brand new Reinbold-Underwood cars started on the front row of the 30-lap feature with Thorson on the pole and series Rookie Chase Randall alongside. Last Saturday at Lawrenceburg, Randall took a high-flyer into the turn three catchfence during the feature but rebounded to win his first career USAC heat race Thursday at LPS and positioned himself on the outside of the front row for the main event.
Sliding up to the top in turns one and two, Thorson grabbed the initial lead from Randall, then opened up a sizable 1.856 sec. lead just four laps into the main when Justin Grant (18th) slid sideways at the entrance to the top of turn three. Kaylee Bryson (19th) got hard on the binders to avoid contact with Grant but wound up transferring the weight to the left side of the car with a 90-degree turn, which flipped her upside down. Both restarted with Grant finishing 19th and Bryaon 12th.
Once again, Thorson broke away on the ensuing restart, which presented him with another hefty 1.5 sec. advantage over Randall and Emerson Axsom. On lap nine, fourth-running Kevin Thomas Jr., a top-five finisher in three of his last four series starts, had his brakes lock up on him between turns one and two. Thomas slid to a stop with the rest of the field barreling behind him, able to avoid contact. Thomas restarted from the tail but drove all the way back to a sixth-place finish at race’s end.
Under yellow, 16th running Chris Windom slowed with a flat right rear tire. After a new wheel and tire were put on the defending series’ champion’s ride in the work area, he returned to pilot his car up to the 13th position at the finish, his lowest finish of the 2021 campaign thus far. Trey Gropp encountered his own issue moments later, still under yellow, following Windom’s, but wouldn’t be as fortunate, dropping out of the race.
Thorson’s restarts were something to marvel at as a two second difference between he and second running Randall developed past the halfway mark. Randall’s runner-up position wasn’t long for the world as a freight train consisting of Daison Pursley, Emerson Axsom and Buddy Kofoid stormed by Randall, who regained his footing by slotting into fifth.
A half lap later, the red flag was displayed when 11th running Brenham Crouch caught the turn four cushion and flipped over, concluding the Rookie driver’s night nine laps from the finish, relegating the Texan to a 20th place finish.
With the red closing up the gap between first and second, a sliver of hope remained for Pursley and Axsom to overtake race leader Thorson. A brief exchange of sliders saw Pursley secure second away from Axsom with five laps remaining. Suddenly, Pursley’s field of vision now had Thorson closer than he’d been all race, just a half second ahead.
However, that chapter came to a close quickly on lap 26 when Pursley bogged down on the turn two cushion, losing a full second’s worth of groundwork to Thorson, from a scant half second to what ultimately became an insurmountable 1.5 sec. margin.
Thorson maintained his presence at the head of the field for the remaining handful of laps before going on to collect his second feature win with the series in 2021 following a first score at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Port City Raceway in April.
Pursley finished second, 1.393 sec. behind, with Emerson Axsom third, Buddy Kofoid fourth and Corey Day fifth after starting 12th, earning himself KSE Racing Products/Irvin King Hard Charger honors one night after winning his first-ever series feature at Circle City.
Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) maintained his record as the only driver to finish inside the top-ten in all six IMW races run thus far: 7th at Paragon, 8th at Bloomington, 7th at Lawrenceburg, 4th at Tri-State, 9th at Circle City and a career-best USAC result of 2nd at Lincoln Park.
Pursley’s consistent performances have provided the second-year driver with a one-point lead in the Indiana Midget Week standings with just two races remaining aboard his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/iBuyPower – TRD – Curb/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I was trying to chase (Thorson) down early on,” Pursley recalled. “I knew that, when I got into second, I probably needed a caution to catch Tanner in lapped traffic. But everyone’s so good here during Indiana Midget Week in the A-main field that it’s hard to catch lapped cars. I was really praying for a caution, and I got it, but I just made a mistake there in one and two and let him get back away.”
Twenty-four hours after finishing 4th at Circle City, Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) upped his best Indiana Midget Week result to a 3rd at Lincoln Park in his Petry Motorsports/FK Rod Ends – Keizer Aluminum Wheels/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I grew up watching (races at) Lincoln Park and it’s been known to have a big ol’ cushion,” Axsom explained. “I felt like we had a shot to win tonight and had a shot to win last night. I’ve been fast the first half of midget week but have just had a little bad luck. We’re fast at all these tracks we’ve been to. Daison and Tanner are really fast, and I felt like the results could’ve been different if any of the roles had been switched, if Tanner and I were racing and Daison was out front. We definitely have the speed, but you’ve got to have a perfect night to win a USAC race.”
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) earned a new 12-lap USAC National Midget track record of 2:47.227 at Lincoln Park Speedway during the Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi-Feature. Oddly enough, the track record was established rather than broken, since there had not been a single caution-free 12-lap race for the series at LPS in any of the series’ 21 previous appearances since 1979.
Logan Seavey’s Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifying time was the ninth of his USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget career, moving him past Christopher Bell, Dana Carter, Russ Gamester, Don Horvath, Kasey Kahne, Sammy Sessions, George Snider and Jack Turner on the series’ fast time list while equaling A.J. Foyt, Doug Kalitta, Larry Patton, Stevie Reeves, Dave Strickland Jr. and Jerry Weeks to rank 66thall-time.