Spencer Bayston charged from the tail-end of the field to finish second in his Craftsman Toyota in the USAC P1 Insurance National Midget series’ Indiana Midget Week (IMW) finale at the Kokomo Speedway Sunday, giving the Lebanon, Indiana-native the 2018 Indiana Midget Week title.
Bayston, the 2017 USAC champion, was looking to register back-to-back wins after capturing Saturday night’s feature at Lawrenceburg. He would start Sunday’s A Main from the inside of the second row.
In the early going, Tyler Courtney would take the lead, with Kevin Thomas Jr. in second, Petry Motorsports Toyota driver Jason McDougal in third, Bayston in fourth and Zeb Wise running fifth. Things changed drastically on lap nine as Wise attempted to use a slider to move into fourth and ended up making contact with Bayston, flattening his rear tire and seemingly ending Bayston’s shot at the title as he was forced to pit and then return at the back of the field on lap nine.
The incident was the first of many unforeseen happenings in the thrilling 30-lap feature.
Courtney and Thomas continued at the front of the field, with McDougal in third and Logan Seavey moving up to fifth. On lap 11, Thomas would take the lead, with McDougal right on his heels, moving into second in his first race at Kokomo.
After a caution on lap 13, McDougal made a charge for the lead, but had a slight bobble which opened the door for Justin Grant to pass him for second, while Seavey climbed up to fourth past Courtney, who entered the night as the IMW point leader. With all the action going on upfront, it was behind them where the biggest move was occurring as Bayston had climbed up from 22nd into the eighth position.
On lap 26, the battle for the title would take another major turn as Grant bobbled after making a run at Thomas for the lead. With McDougal and Seavey both within feet of him, Grant would hit the turn one wall and flip his car. McDougal and Seavey squeezed by, but Grant would collect Courtney and Tanner Thorson, sending all three cars to the pits and, subsequently, the back of the field with just five laps remaining.
Heading into the restart, Thomas continued to lead with McDougal in second, Seavey in third and Bayston having moved up to fourth. Seavey made the first move with a huge slider to take second away from McDougal, while Bayston took advantage of the move to snatch the third spot.
With two laps remaining, Seavey made his charge for the lead, pulling up to Thomas as the white flag flew. Seavey threw a slider at Thomas into turn one, momentarily taking the lead, but Thomas crossed back for the lead coming out of two. Seavey wasn’t done, though, as he threw a final slider at Thomas into turn four, but Thomas once again fought back to take the lead and the victory. In attempting his last maneuver, Seavey would jump the cushion and Bayston drove by to earn runner-up honors and clinch the Midget Week title in the process.
“I knew that Keith (Kunz) and Big l (Scroggins) would give me a good car tonight,” said Bayston afterward. “I felt pretty good at the start, but then we had to go to the tail. We just fought back and brought home second. I wasn’t sure what the standings were, I knew I just had to keep gaining as many positions as I could. I was just thankful that we could bring home the title in our Craftsman number 97. I couldn’t do it without all the support from everyone at Toyota and TRD. It means a lot to be able to reward our whole Keith Kunz Motorsports team with the title. They just work so hard and without them it just wouldn’t be possible.”
Behind Bayston was Seavey in third, McDougal in fourth and Tyler Thomas in fifth as Toyota drivers captured the second through fifth positions. Ironically, Sunday night’s race was the first time this week that a Toyota didn’t earn the win, but Bayston made up for it by capturing the title. Chad Boat, the winner of Thursday night’s event at Lincoln Park Speedway, would place third in the IMW standings, one spot ahead of Seavey.
Toyota Racing PR