Emerson Axsom passed fellow Toyota driver Brenham Crouch on lap 24 of 30 and then pulled away from the field on the way to earning his first national midget car victory at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League Open Wheel Showdown at Lucas Oil Speedway.
The 16-year-old Axsom was coming off a second-place showing in the most recent POWRi event at Port City. Toyota-powered drivers have now won 14 national midget features this season, with Axsom becoming the eighth different Toyota to win in 2021.
Starting from the pole position, Crouch would lead the opening lap, but Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) teammate Daison Pursley quickly moved up from third to second and would overtake Crouch for the top spot off turn four on lap two.
By lap four, Pursley opened up more than a half second lead and checked out on the rest of the field. As the race hit the midway point on lap 15, Pursley had opened up a 2.4-second lead. His night would come to a disappointing end, though, when he went hard into the wall in turn four on lap 16.
Pursley’s misfortune gave the lead back to the 15-year-old Crouch and he held the top spot until there were less than 10 laps remaining when Axsom went low on lap 23 and the two ran side-by-side with Crouch narrowly holding the lead as they crossed the flag stand. On the following lap, Axsom threw a slider through turns three and four to move past Crouch into the race lead.
From that point on, the Petry Motorsports driver was able to widen the gap as Crouch remained in second. Behind them, KKM’s Bryant Wiedeman was making a late charge and was able to overtake Cannon McIntosh for third, with McIntosh, driving for Dave Mac Motorsports, eventually placing fourth and CB Industries’ 13-year-old Brent Crews placed fifth as Toyota drivers swept the top-five finishing positions.
The POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League is back in action Sunday night with the Mid-State Nationals at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.
Emerson Axsom: “Everytime we’ve run out here this, we’ve had a shot. We made the right decisions and they paid off. There are a ton of cars that can win every night. Putting yourself in the right spot gives you a shot.”
Brenham Crouch: “I have to thank everyone back in the shop. They give me a car that’s on rails everytime. I have to thank Keith Kunz Motorsports, Toyota and Curb-Agajanian for giving me this opportunity.”
Bryant Wiedeman: “It was a good confidence boost to finish on the podium. Hopefully, we can do it again tomorrow. We were good at the start, had some problems in the middle, but we were really good at the end. To be able to pass Cannon for third at the end was a great way to finish off the night.”
Toyota-Powered Drivers POWRi Lucas Oil Speedway Saturday Results
Emerson Axsom – 1st
Brenham Crouch – 2nd
Bryant Wiedeman – 3rd
Cannon McIntosh – 4th
Brent Crews – 5th
Ryan TImms – 6th
Sam Johnson – 7th
Joe B. Miller – 9th
Tyler Thomas – 11th
Cade Lewis – 15th
Taylor Reimer – 16th
Daison Pursley – 17th
Toyota Racing PR