Keith Kunz Motorsports driver Tanner Carrick took the lead on lap two of 30 and then held off fellow Toyota driver Michael Pickens late in winning night one of the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series’ Hangtown 100 at Placerville Speedway, as Toyota-powered drivers swept the podium on Thursday night with Pickens placing second and Buddy Kofoid coming home in third.
Tonight’s victory marks Keith Kunz’ 134th in USAC National Midget competition, moving him past Steve Lewis for number one on the all-time USAC National Midget entrant win list. Kunz has earned 113 of those wins since joining forces with Toyota in 2010.
“We are so proud of Keith and all that he has accomplished over the past three decades in the USAC National Midget Series,” relayed TRD, U.S.A. President David Wilson. “Keith and his partner at KKM, Pete Willoughby, provided TRD, U.S.A. the motivation to build a world class driver development program. They were at ground zero for its creation and today they remain integral to its ongoing success. Keith may build some of the best race cars in the business, but what’s most impressive is the positive impact he and Pete have had on all these young men and women drivers over the years. Toyota and TRD are proud and grateful to be on his team.”
Pickens and Carrick began the race on the front row with Pickens going out to the lead immediately and led lap one by a half-car length, but Carrick charged into turn one to take the lead on lap two with Pickens second and Chris Windom running third.
Carrick would extend his lead over Pickens out to eight-tenths of a second as they reached the midway point, then stretched out the margin to over a second as they hit lapped traffic on lap 20 only to see a caution flag bunch the field in lap 22. Just two laps a red flag for a multi-car incident, setting up a seven-lap shootout for the win. Pickens would then push ahead of Carrick for the lead on lap 26, but Carrick would cross back over to retain the top spot and go on to the victory.
Thursday’s feature marked the second podium finishes in two races on the USAC Western Swing for both Pickens and Kofoid after Tuesday’s event at Bakersfield Speedway with Pickens finishing second and Kofoid third that night as well. The third-place finish stretches out Kofoid’s championship point lead to 209 points over Justin Grant with just five races remaining as he closes in on a second consecutive USAC national midget title.
Five more Toyota-powered drivers scored top-10 finishes on the night with Kevin Thomas, Jr., placing fourth, followed by Spencer Bayston in fifth, Cannon McIntosh was sixth, Windom finished ninth and Colby Copeland came home in tenth.
The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series returns to Placerville Speedway for night two of the Hangtown 100 Friday night.
Keith Kunz: “Steve Lewis was one of the greatest car owners ever and I never dreamed of even being close to that. I think 30 years ago was my first win, so it’s been a long time creeping up there. I’ve had such good guys to drive for me over the years. I feel really good for Tanner to step in here tonight. He just loves this place, and we knew he was going to be a factor.”
Tanner Carrick, Keith Kunz Motorsports: “It means a lot to me. They had this thing on rails. I struggled the last couple of laps, messing up in turns three and four on the curb, but other than that we were pretty good. We were fast all night. Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby are always there for me. Whenever I ask Keith or Pete if I can come run, they’ve got a ride for me and that means a lot to me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. They’re like family to me. It’s pretty special to be here on stage at my home track”
Toyota-Powered Drivers USAC Placerville Speedway Thursday Results
Tanner Carrick – 1st
Michael Pickens – 2nd
Buddy Kofoid – 3rd
Kevin Thomas, Jr. -4th
Spencer Bayston – 5th
Cannon McIntosh – 6th
Chris Windom – 8th
Colby Copeland – 9th
Bryant Wiedeman – 11th
Mitchel Moles – 12th
Thomas Meseraull – 13th
Justin Grant – 14th
Dominic Gorden – 15th
Daison Pursley – 18th
Emerson Axsom – 19th
Taylor Reimer – 20th
Kaylee Bryson – 21st
Carson Macedo – 22nd
Jade Avedisian – 23rd
Toyota Racing PR