KKM set for return to USAC Sprint Car competition


For the first time in nearly a decade, the Columbus-based Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports will field an entry on the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car tour.

Penngrove, California, driver Buddy Kofoid will begin the 2022 season as the pilot of a brand-new Spike chassis with a Speedway Chevy engine in KKM’s Curb Records sponsored No. 67 for Winter Dirt Games XIII on Thursday, Friday and Feb. 19 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida.

Keith Kunz Motorsports is known across the racing landscape for the enormous amount of success the team has attained in USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget competition. With a series-record 11 entrant championships and 122 features wins (second all-time), the operation ranks as one of the most successful in the history of the organization.

KKM’s USAC National Sprint Car record is exceptional, as well, amassing 35 victories in the series between 2000 and 2010. Those 35 wins rank among the upper echelon, eighth all-time in fact, in series history.

While their midget team has continued to flourish throughout the past decade, the USAC Sprint Car team has sat idle, last competing during the 2013 season with driver Christopher Bell.

One accolade that has, thus far, eluded KKM is a USAC National Sprint Car entrant title. There have been a couple close calls, namely 2003 and 2009, when the team finished as the series-runner-up. This year, the intention is to change that fact by once again running full-time for the USAC National Sprint Car title, if proper funding becomes available to make it a reality, beginning with Kofoid in the car for the season’s initial events.

The groundwork for Kunz’s USAC Sprint Car comeback actually began last year. With the midget side of things being run successfully by a group of guys like Jarrett Martin, Beau Binder and Kaz Townsend, Kunz felt he didn’t have to be as hands-on. In turn, which provided him the opportunity to bring other disciplines back into the team for 2022.

“I had this vision of wanting to run some non-wing sprint car races again and chase the USAC National Sprint Car title; it’s one thing that I’ve never won,” Kunz explained. “Toward the end of last year, my thought going into the winter was to put something together for Daison (Pursley). My real plan was to get Daison’s feet wet in a sprint car with me this year until he got hurt.”

Pursley, one of the breakout drivers for KKM’s midget program in 2020 and 2021, suffered neck and spine injuries in an accident at Arizona Speedway last November. Kunz, along with team CEO Pete Willoughby, opted to continue onward with the plan, putting reigning USAC National Midget champion Kofoid in the seat.

“I’m excited for it,” Kofoid exclaimed. “I haven’t done a lot of non-wing sprint car racing, but the few that I have done over the past couple of years on the USAC National Sprint Car side, we’ve been pretty fast. It’s something I’ve rarely gotten to do, so that makes it really enjoyable. To do it with Keith, it will be really special because it’s been a while.”

Kofoid’s five appearances in a USAC National Sprint Car event have been exceptional with five top-10s and four finishes inside the top five. In 2020, he finished fourth, fourth and fifth at Kokomo Speedway for Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports. In 2021, he scored an eighth and a career-best third for Chris Dyson Racing at Bubba Raceway Park.

Going into KKM’s Columbus shop on a regular basis piqued Kofoid’s interest in multiple ways to go USAC Sprint Car racing, from the cars to the people.

“There’s a couple of those Bullet non-wing coil cars upstairs in the shop that we’ve all seen, and we’re thinking, ‘Let’s put the Bullet together,’” Kofoid relayed. “But now we’ve got a brand-new Spike, and it’s going to be a really nice car. It’s something I’m kind of familiar with when I ran for Reinbold-Underwood at Smackdown.”

KKM team manager Jay Drake remains the team’s all-time winningest USAC Sprint Car driver, totaling 13 victories for Kunz between 2000 and 2003, and another two under the Pete Willoughby banner in 2000.

“I see Jay Drake every day, and he was one of the best non-wing sprint car drivers out there and won a lot for Keith and Pete,” Kofoid said. “It’ll be cool to be the next guy to get in their car, and hopefully we can knock off a win and see where it goes.”

Over the past two decades, nine drivers have won USAC National Sprint Car features for KKM: Drake (13), Cory Kruseman (seven), Cole Whitt (five), Bryan Clauson (three), Darren Hagen (two), Josh Wise (two), Henry Clarke (one), Marc Jessup (one) and Brian Tyler (one), and Kofoid fully intends to add his name to that list in the Sunshine State.

“We want to go to Florida and hit the first races and see what happens and I think we’ll go from there,” Kofoid said. “We want to, at least, be at the first points races, then make our game plan after that, and see what’s really doable.”

Kunz echoes those same sentiments, taking it one step at a time, with a big goal in mind.

“My ultimate goal is to run for the USAC National Sprint Car championship as a car owner, and I didn’t want to miss out on the first races in Florida,” Kunz echoed. “Once we get through Florida, it will give us time for Buddy to finish working out his schedule and see what we can make with him. We just want to get through Florida and not miss anything and see where it takes us.”

Three straight nights of racing await at Bubba Raceway Park for the 2022 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season openers Thursday through Feb. 19. Each night, the pits open at 4 p.m., with front gates opening at 5 p.m. and cars on track at 6 p.m.

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