Daison Pursley led all 30 laps, but it was anything but easy at the end, as he held off a furious late charge from teammate Buddy Kofoid to win night three of the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League’s Illinois SpeedWeek at Jacksonville Speedway.
The victory is the third of the year for the 16-year-old Pursley and the 29th national midget feature win for a Toyota-powered driver in 2021.
Starting from the front row after winning his heat race earlier in the night, Pursley went straight to the lead and dominated the early going as Emerson Axsom and Thomas Meseraull would fall in behind him battling for the second spot for the first eight laps.
On lap nine, the front of the pack would see a major change as both Axsom and Meseraull were caught up in a five-car incident as lapped cars tangled in front of them. Both would rejoin the field, but the damage proved to be too severe for Meseraull’s car and he was forced to retire early.
As the race resumed on lap nine, Pursley would immediately pull away from the field, while a pair of 13-year-old Toyota drivers manned the second and third spots in Gavan Boschele and Brent Crews. By lap 13, Pursley had opened up more than a two-second lead on second place.
As the laps began to wind down, Pursley continued to pace the field, but his Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate Kofoid had climbed from the eighth starting position up to second. As the race entered the final six laps Pursley began to encounter heavy lapped traffic and Kofoid closed in.
By lap 27, Kofoid had caught him and the two fought for the lead as they ran side-by-side through turn three with Pursley holding him off at the starting line to complete lap 28. The two battled into lap 29, only to see the caution wave for Axsom. That would set up a two-lap dash for the win.
Pursley held the lead into turn one, but Kofoid once again pulled up side by side as the two came to the white flag. Kofoid stayed right with Pursley as they battled for the lead, with the pair banging wheels through three and into the final turn, but Pursley was able to hold on to take the checkered flag. Kofoid finished second and Cannon McIntosh earned the final spot on the podium in third after having to start from the 17th position after advancing from the B Main. It marked his third consecutive top-four finish for McIntosh as he leads the Illinois SpeedWeek point standings heading into the final two races. Pursley currently sits second.
Crews would finish fourth, with Ryan Timms placing sixth, Boschele was seventh, followed by Bryant Wiedeman, Cade Lewis and Kaylee Bryson rounding out the top-10 as Toyota drivers earned nine of the first 10 finishing positions.
Illinois SpeedWeek heads to Macon Speedway Saturday before closing out the week’s events at Fayette County Speedway on Sunday.
Daison Pursley, Keith Kunz Motorsports: “I felt like I could rip the top and I stuck with it. I knew Buddy was coming and he’d be there at the end. It was tough with lapped traffic. I have to thank my parents, as well as the entire team and everyone involved. I think we’ve got our mojo back.”
Buddy Kofoid, Keith Kunz Motorsports: “I couldn’t get going early, I was a little too free. Then I got lucky on a restart and picked off a few cars and started hunting (Pursley) down. I think we were the better car at the end, but couldn’t get to the front early enough. Thanks to everyone at Keith Kunz Motorsports – and to Mobil 1 and Toyota I wouldn’t be here right now without them. Second is better than where we’ve been the last couple of nights, but hopefully we can do better tomorrow.”
Toyota-Powered Drivers POWRi Jacksonville Speedway A Main Results
Daison Pursley – 1st
Buddy Kofoid – 2nd
Cannon McIntosh – 3rd
Brent Crews – 4th
Ryan TImms – 6th
Gavan Boschele – 7th
Bryant Wiedeman – 8th
Cade Lewis – 9th
Kaylee Bryson – 10th
Sam Johnson – 12th
Brenham Crouch – 14th
Taylor Reimer – 15th
Mark Chisholm – 19th
Emerson Axsom – 20th
Thomas Meseraull – 22nd
POWRI Point Standings (Toyota drivers in bold)
1t. Emerson Axsom, 3380
1t. Bryant Wiedeman, 3380
3. Daison Pursley, 3240
4. Jake Neuman, 3180
5. Brent Crews, 3150
Toyota Racing PR