Kofoid takes USAC Midget title for Keith Kunz Motorsports

Driver Buddy Kofoid and the Columbus-based Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports put together one of the most spectacular seasons in USAC National Midget history and delivered a second driving title and a record-extending 12th entrant championship for his team.

In a dominant display, Kofoid became the first repeat driver champion since Bryan Clauson in 2010 and 2011. His 13 wins in 32 starts place his win percentage at 40.63%. That’s the highest winning percentage in series history in terms of a driver’s victories compared to the number of total events on the schedule. Furthermore, he’s now one of just five drivers to reach at least 13 triumphs in a season and the first since Rich Vogler in 1988.

In the spring, Kofoid became the first driver since Kyle Larson a decade ago to reel off four wins in a row. He captured Indiana Midget Week for the second straight year, plus the BC39 and the Hangtown 100, and his final championship point margin of 203 points is the largest in 18 seasons.

Grant takes sprint car title

The combination of driver Justin Grant and entrant TOPP Motorsports is the longest continuously tenured team on the USAC National Sprint Car tour, and in their fifth consecutive season together, they finally reached the mountaintop in 2022.

This year, Grant recorded an impeccable 37 top-10 finishes and was running at the finish in all 39 races on the docket without a single DNF. His six victories on the season came in many of the series’ most marquee events, starting off at Winter Dirt Games, followed by an Eastern Storm round at Williams Grove, a W at the Bill Gardner Sprintacular, twice at Kokomo and finally, in the 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora while grabbing top honors as a first-time Indiana Sprint Week champ.

Throughout the season, Grant was always in the thick of the hunt. That’s demonstrated by the fact that he was involved in the four closest finishes of the USAC National Sprint car season, winning three of them and finishing second in the other.

Grant previously captured a USAC Silver Crown championship in 2020, and now, he’s a first-time USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car national driving champion.

Swanson takes silver crown title

In 51 years of USAC Silver Crown racing, the No. 1 had never won the championship, but if there was anybody who was up to the task to alter that half-a-century narrative, it was Kody Swanson.

Swanson became just the third driver in USAC history to earn seven national championships within a single division, along with A.J. Foyt and Mel Kenyon, and in 2022, he notched three wins on the pavement in succession at Winchester, Toledo and WWT Raceway, where he turned the fastest lap in a traditional USAC Silver Crown car at nearly 147 mph.

In the end, Swanson overcame a deficit to thrust himself into the point lead and to a championship in the season finale to become the first driver since 2016 to overtake the point leader for the title in the last race of the season.

In a unique partnership, Swanson wheeled entries for a pair of legendary sports car outfits that teamed up for left turns only, and it paid off with a seventh series driving championship for Swanson and a first entrant title for both Doran Racing and Dyson Racing.

Martin named top mechanic

Jarrett Martin of Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports won the USAC’s Chief Mechanic of the Year Award. The award was named in honor of championship winning mechanic and USAC President Johnny Capels. The Golden Greek Award is earned by the top mechanical achievement from USAC’s Silver Crown, AMSOIL National Sprint Car and NOS Energy Drink National Midget season.

In the history of USAC racing, only three others have been named the top chief mechanic multiple times. Nobody had ever won it in consecutive years. That is until 2022 with Jarrett Martin.

It seems fitting that the most recent multi-time recipient prior to tonight’s ceremony is Keith Kunz. With Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, Martin has turned the wrenches on back-to-back USAC National Midget championships for driver Buddy Kofoid during one of the most historic and successful stretches in series history.

SRX releases 2023 schedule

Superstar Racing Experience has announced its 2023 season schedule. The races will air on six consecutive Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on ESPN and the ESPN App, bringing back the iconic ESPN Thursday Night Thunder branding.

The series will kick off its 2023 schedule at Stafford Motor Speedway on July 13 in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. After that, the series will travel north for its first visit to the iconic Thunder Road Speed bowl in Barre, Vermont, on July 20.

SRX will then head south to Virginia for a shootout at Motor Mile Speedway on July 27 before visiting Michigan for the first time to race at the esteemed Berlin Raceway in the greater Grand Rapids area on Aug. 3.

The series will culminate its 2023 season with back-to-back dirt races at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on Aug. 10, followed by the championship race at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri, on Aug. 17.

“The six tracks we selected came from a list of 42 fantastic venues, all who had real interest in hosting an SRX race this summer,” said Don Hawk, SRX chief executive officer. “When selecting the schedule, we prioritized historic tracks that have had success hosting big-time events. We are really excited with the six tracks that have been selected. The venues will be packed and bring incredible energy and local racing passion that will come out on ESPN for Thursday Night Thunder. This summer will be short track racing at its very best. SRX at six historic short tracks all over the U.S., we can’t wait and are so excited for the fans to experience it on ESPN in primetime.

It was important to kick off the summer at Stafford Motor Speedway in Bristol’s backyard, he said.

“Stafford and the Arute Family have done a first-class job, and the proximity to ESPN made the home game concept very exciting,” he said. “SRX’s first visit to Thunder Road will be awesome. The fans there are spectacular, and we’re excited for race fans around the country to see how awesome that place is.

“We are equally excited to visit Motor Mile and Berlin Race. These are two tracks that have been on our radar since Day 1,” Hawk said. “Finally, finishing the season with back-to-back dirt races will test the drivers’ adaptability. Eldora is a world-class facility, and with Tony (Stewart), we know we are getting the very best. And hosting our championship at Lucas Oil Speedway in Missouri will be the perfect finale to a diverse and exciting 2023 summer schedule.”

SRX was created by Sandy Montag and The Montag Group, investor and former NASCAR chief operating officer George Pyne, NASCAR Hall of Famer and legendary driver Tony Stewart and NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief and owner Ray Evernham.

Over the first two seasons of SRX, the six-race series has featured drivers from a variety of racing backgrounds with an emphasis on champion-level drivers. SRX has seen some of the sport’s biggest names compete, including Stewart, Bill Elliott, Chase Elliott, Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy, Bobby Labonte, Willy T. Ribbs, Hailie Deegan, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Marco Andretti, Matt Kenseth, Michael Waltrip, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves and more.

James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected]