By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Speedway, Indiana (August 3, 2022)………Whether it’s the 2.5-mile paved oval or the quarter-mile dirt oval, this is Indy.
Nothing measures up to the call it beckons to racers from all corners of the earth when an event is schedule on (or within) its hallowed grounds.
The same can be said for those who chase immortality as a winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Few have done it when the test has been 500 miles. Even fewer have done the deed when the distance measures a mere 39 laps, as has been the standard since the inaugural edition in 2018 and a tradition that continues with this Wednesday and Thursday night’s Driven2SaveLives BC39 Presented by WeatherTech.
The date of August 3-4 has been circled on calendars for drivers, teams and fans alike as dirt racing and the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship returns to life at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a once-a-year, one-of-a-kind event, a victory that all drivers covet, a trophy that only one will possess, a feeling unlike any other.
Heat races and the Stoops Pursuit race kick off the action Wednesday night. Qualifying races, last chance races and the $15,000-to-win 39-lap main event will conclude the two-night affair on Thursday night. Feature points only will be awarded to all licensed USAC National Midget drivers and entrants toward the season-long championship.
One year ago, it was chaos. It was mayhem. It was heart palpitating. But, in the end, the third running of the BC39 will best be remembered by a one word description – “Larson.”
The Elk Grove, Calif. native became the first to sweep both the Stoops Pursuit and the BC39 on back-to-back nights. In the finale, Larson warded off a continuous onslaught of haymakers, bombs and sliders, all while simultaneously wheeling his way to the front, enduring the mental gymnastics along the way, then holding off challenges from the likes of USAC national champions Justin Grant and Brady Bacon during the final five lap stint to win the furious fight.
Nearly 90 entries, among the largest in USAC National Midget history, will take center stage with a field that contains a who’s who of short track racing, representing 18 different United States and three different countries – United States, Australia and New Zealand.
The event boasts two past BC39 winners in Larson (2021) and Brady Bacon (2018).
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Larson has captured each of the last two Stoops Pursuits in 2019 and 2021 before winning it all in a wild 39-lap main event on the final night of 2021.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Bacon captured the inaugural BC39 victory four years ago in 2018, leading the last nine laps after making the winning move in traffic. The four-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion led laps in both 2018 and 2019 and nearly pulled off a second win in 2021, winding up 3rd.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) and Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) are the lone two drivers to finish inside the top-ten in all three of the BC39’s ever held.
Grant finished as the runner-up in 2021 after leading the opening lap. The 2020 USAC Silver Crown champ and recently crowned USAC Indiana Sprint Week titlist also scored a 7th in 2018 and a 10th in 2019.
Courtney finished 4th at the BC39 in 2018, 2nd in 2019 after starting 20th, which is the biggest ever charge through the field in the event’s history. In the 2019 USAC National Midget champion’s most recent run, he took an 8th in 2021.
USAC Triple Crown champion Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) finished a best of 3rd in 2019. The 2020 champ is one of seven past USAC National Midget champions in this year’s BC39 field alongside Russ Gamester (1989), J.J. Yeley (2003), Jerry Coons Jr. (2006 & 2007), Logan Seavey (2018), Courtney (2019) and Buddy Kofoid (2021).
Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) finished 5th in the 2019 BC39 while Coons (Tucson, Ariz.) collected a best of 9th in both 2018 and 2021. Current series point leader Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) grabbed a 10th in 2021. Gamester (Peru, Ind.) and Yeley (Phoenix, Ariz.), meanwhile, are shooting for their first BC39 start. USAC Triple Crown champion Yeley is the lone driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the BC39 in his career.
Depth is in abundance throughout the BC39 field. The last chance races, in many ways, will appear somewhat similar to a feature event on any other given night.
Among the many, many USAC National Midget feature winners in the field, 24 in fact, is Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.) who led the first 19 laps of the 2019 BC39 before being involved in an accident midway, then brought the fans to their feet by leading a race-high 16 laps in 2021 before a late race incident put him out of contention.
Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) was 16th in 2018 after running near the top-five late before getting embroiled in a tangle. Cannon McIntosh (Bixby, Okla.) flipped late in 2019 to finish 18th. Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) ran from 19th to 5th in 2021 while Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City, Okla.) slotted into sixth behind his fellow BC39 Rookie.
Chase Briscoe and Maria Cofer are both seeking first career USAC National Midget feature wins. NASCAR’s Cup Series Rookie of the Year and 2020 IMS Road Course winner with the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Briscoe (Mitchell, Ind.), traveled 22nd to 11th for his best BC39 performance thus far in 2021. Cofer (Macdoel, Calif.), a multi-time winner on the USAC Western States Midget trail and a BCRA Midget champ to boot, was 17th in 2018.
Twice a NASCAR Cup Series winner and eight times a Brickyard 400 starter, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Olive Branch, Miss.) snagged a 7th place BC39 result in 2019. Dillon Welch (Carmel, Ind.) was part of the broadcasting crew for the Indianapolis 500 this past May. He also has on-track prowess too, notching an 11th at the 2019 BC39.
Michael Pickens (Auckland, N.Z.) returns to the states following a three-year hiatus where he finished 3rd at the 2019 BC39. From the 2021 BC39 Rookie class are 2022 returnees, Princeton, Indian’s Kyle Cummins (17th in 2021), Mason City, Illinois’ Karter Sarff (18th in 2021), Muskogee, Oklahoma’s Kaylee Bryson (19th in 2021). C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), the 2019 USAC National Sprint Car champ, returns to the BC39 for the first time since finishing 26th in 2019. He’ll drive a car for Petry Motorsports’ Scott Petry, who was instrumental in the construction of The Dirt Track at IMS.
The entry list boasts a hefty number of BC39 returnees looking to crack the A-Main feature starting lineup for the first time after making previous appearances in the event.
Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner Ryan Newman (South Bend, Ind.) is among the group. The 1999 USAC Silver Crown champ has collected 13 career USAC National Midget victories.
Also in this particular classification are fellow USAC National Midget feature winners Jacob Denney (Galloway, Ohio), Zach Daum (Pocahontas, Ill.), Steve Buckwalter (Royersford, Pa.) and John Heydenreich (Bloomsburg, Pa.) along with series full-timers seeking USAC victory number one, Ethan Mitchell (Mooresville, N.C.), Bryant Wiedeman (Colby, Kan.), Hayden Reinbold (Gilbert, Ariz.), Brenham Crouch (Lubbock, Texas), Chase McDermand (Springfield, Ill.) and Taylor Reimer (Bixby, Okla.).
Reimer is one of seven women entered for the event, each seeking to become the first woman to win a USAC National Midget feature along with: Bryson and Cofer as well as first-time BC39 starting hopefuls, USAC Western States Midget champion Shannon McQueen (Tehachapi, Calif.), Michelle Decker (Guthrie, Okla.), Mariah Ede (Fresno, Calif.) and Jade Avedisian (Clovis, Calif.).
Gas City Sprint Car track champion Clinton Boyles (Greenwood, Mo.) is back in the BC39 field as is POWRi WAR Sprint Car champion Riley Kreisel (Warsaw, Mo.)., Bloomington Indiana Midget Week runner-up Chance Crum (Snohomish, Wash.), midget racing vet Justin Dickerson (Pittsboro, Ind.), sprint car and midget vet Anton Hernandez (Arlington, Texas) and USAC IMRA SpeeD2 Midget champ Bryan Stanfill (Bakersfield, Calif.).
USAC Western HPD Restricted Midget champion Blake Brannon (Morgan Hill, Calif.) is back in the lineup as is USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midget winner Ian Creager (Covington, Ohio), TQ Midget victor Rylan Gray (Greenfield, Ind.), mini sprint standout Jeff Schindler (Evansville, Ind.), as well as fellow returnees Austin Barnhill (Wilmington, N.C.), Chris Baue (Indianapolis, Ind.), Oliver Akard (Fort Myers, Fla.), Nick Drake (Mooresville, N.C.) and Ben Varner (Harbor Springs, Mich.).
BC39: THE NEW CLASS
The list of BC39 “Rookies” and first-timers is staggering. It’s a scroll that includes an Indianapolis 500 veteran, a NASCAR Truck champion, a World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion, Indiana Sprint Car track champs and USAC national feature winners.
Ten-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion Donny Schatz (Fargo, N.D.) is making his USAC National Midget debut, and his first appearance of any kind in a USAC event since competing with the Silver Crown series in 2003.
Four-time Indianapolis 500 starter Zach Veach will make his first USAC National Midget appearance in just his third appearance on dirt following two recent wing sprint car starts in Ohio. Sheldon Creed (Alpine, Calif.) is also making his initial USAC Midget appearance after capturing the 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crown.
Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) has taken the USAC world by storm in 2022 as a winner in both USAC National Midget and Sprint Car competition already and looks to make a splash on the big stage at Indy.
USAC National Sprint Car winner Bill Rose (Plainfield, Ind.) will make a rare midget appearance at the BC39 as will past USAC National Sprint Car Rookies of the Year Isaac Chapple (Willow Branch, Ind.), Timmy Buckwalter (Douglassville, Pa.) and Jadon Rogers (Worthington, Ind.), plus Bloomington Speedway track champ Jordan Kinser (Bloomington, Ind.), Bloomington/Lincoln Park/Paragon titlist A.J. Hopkins (Brownsburg, Ind.), USAC Western States Midget king Michael Faccinto (Hanford, Calif.), USAC Gulf Coast Midget champ Kyle Jones (Kennedale, Texas) and USAC Midwest HPD Midget champion Alex Watson (Columbus, Ohio).
Making their first ever visits to the BC39 are Trey Gropp (Lincoln, Neb.), July Lincoln Park USAC Sprint Car fast-timer Ryan Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.), Josh Hodge (Brownsburg, Ind.), Kyle Keaton (Wheelersburg, Ohio), Casey Burkham (Combine, Texas), Travis Buckley (Auckland, N.Z.) and Badger Midget standout Adam Taylor (Shorewood, Ill.).
Alex Nalon (Pittsboro, Ind.) is the great grandson of 1949 and 1951 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Duke Nalon and will bring the famed surname back to Indy for the BC39. He’s joined by burgeoning USAC National Midget Rookies Cade Lewis (Bakersfield, Calif.), Jace Park (Overland Park, Kan.) and Dominic Gorden (Clovis, Calif.), west coast frontrunner Colby Copeland (Roseville, Calif.), as well as USAC Western States Midget top-10 runner Braden Chiaramonte (El Cajon, Calif.), Barrie Valentino (Brisbane, Qld.), Peter Paulson (Woodland, Calif.), Jimi Quin (Palmerston North, N.Z.), Jim Jones (Ventura, Calif.), Scott Orr (Columbia City, Ind.), Zach Boden (Cambridge, Wis.) and Greyson Springer (Lafayette, Ind.).
Heat race lineups were set by the drivers during a “draft” process on Tuesday night. Each car in each of Wednesday’s ten 10-lap heat races will gain points based on passes and their finishing position, which will determine starting position in the qualifying races on Thursday night.
Points for the heats will be accumulated by finishing position and total number of positions gained or lost. Cars will be positioned into qualifying races Thursday based on the “passing points” accumulated in Wednesday’s heats.
Wednesday night’s festivities will conclude with The Stoops Pursuit race, a 25-lap race split into five-lap segments. The field will include 24 starters – heat race winners plus the highest point earner in each heat are eligible, along with promoter’s options.
The starting lineup for the pursuit is inverted by fastest heat race time, with promoter’s options starting at the rear. Every five laps, USAC will throw a competition flag, and cars with a net loss in position will be called to exit the track. A checkered flag ends the final segment, with the winner earning $1,500 plus $100 for each position gained.
On track action begins Wednesday, August 3, beginning with the drivers meeting in the IMS Media Room at 3pm Eastern. Public gates open at 4pm with cars hitting the track for practice at 6pm, followed by opening ceremonies at 7pm. Heat races and the incredibly exciting Stoops Pursuit feature race will conclude the night’s racing action.
The finale, on Thursday, August 4, will have the public gates opening at 4pm and cars on track for practice at 5pm, with qualifying races to follow at 6pm. Opening ceremonies are slated for 7:30pm and immediately followed by the main feature events, the semi-feature and the 39-lap main event.
Advance race tickets can be purchased via www.TheBC39.com.
Every lap of the BC39 will be aired live on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3AMU46z.
ENTRY LIST FOR THE DRIVEN2SAVELIVES BC39 PRESENTED BY WEATHERTECH:
0G J.J. YELEY/Phoenix, AZ (Glenn Styres Racing)
01 BRYANT WIEDEMAN/Colby, KS (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
06 RYLAN GRAY/Greenfield, IN (Gray Racing)
08 CANNON McINTOSH/Bixby, OK (Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports)
08s RICKY STENHOUSE JR./Olive Branch, MS (Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports)
08x TREY GROPP/Lincoln, NE (Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports)
1 RYAN THOMAS/Indianapolis, IN (Wingo Brothers Racing)
2J JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (RMS Racing)
3G KYLE CUMMINS/Princeton, IN (Glenn Styres Racing)
5 CHASE BRISCOE/Mitchell, IN (Chase Briscoe Racing)
5J JOSH HODGE/Brownsburg, IN (Bill Rose Racing)
5LK JORDAN KINSER/Bedford, IN (Chase Briscoe Racing)
6 BILL ROSE/Plainfield, IN (Bill Rose Racing)
6K KYLE KEATON/Wheelersburg, OH (Kyle Keaton)
6x ISAAC CHAPPLE/Willow Branch, IN (Doug & Wanda Hall)
7 SHANNON McQUEEN/Tehachapi, CA (McQueen Racing)
7BC TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN (Clauson Marshall Racing)
7D MICHELLE DECKER/Guthrie, OK (Michelle Decker)
7m JADON ROGERS/Worthington, IN (RAMCO Speed Group)
7MR CASEY BURKHAM/Combine, TX (RAMCO Speed Group)
7NZ TRAVIS BUCKLEY/Auckland, NZ (BSL Racing)
7R A.J. HOPKINS/Brownsburg, IN (RAMCO Speed Group)
7T ADAM TAYLOR/Shorewood, IL (Adam Taylor Motorsports)
7x THOMAS MESERAULL/San Jose, CA (RMS Racing)
7u KYLE JONES/Kennedale, TX (Trifecta Motorsports)
8x JEFF SCHINDLER/Evansville, IN (Jeff Schindler)
9m ZACH DAUM/Pocahontas, IL (Bundy Built Motorsports)
11 CLINTON BOYLES/Greenwood, MO (Scott Beierle)
11T ALEX WATSON/Columbus, OH (Team Taylor)
15 DONNY SCHATZ/Fargo, ND (Mark Cooper)
15F MICHAEL FACCINTO/Hanford, CA (Mounce-Stout Motorsports)
17 MICHAEL PICKENS/Auckland, NZ (Shophouse Racing)
17B AUSTIN BARNHILL/Wilmington, NC (Dave Mac Dalby Motorsports)
17v BEN VARNER/Harbor Springs, MI (Ben Varner)
18N ALEX NALON/Pittsboro, IN (Alex Nalon)
19 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports)
19AZ HAYDEN REINBOLD/Gilbert, AZ (Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports)
19K RILEY KREISEL/Warsaw, MO (Ron Cox)
19m ETHAN MITCHELL/Mooresville, NC (Bundy Built Motorsports)
21 ZACH VEACH/Stockdale, OH (Team Ripper)
21D JUSTIN DICKERSON/Pittsboro, IN (Mike Dickerson)
21H BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (TKH Motorsports)
21K KARTER SARFF/Mason City, IL (Karter Sarff Racing)
22 JOHN HEYDENREICH/Bloomsburg, PA (John Heydenreich)
Q23 BARRIE VALENTINO/Brisbane, QLD (Barrie Valentino)
25 BRADEN CHIARAMONTE/El Cajon, CA (Tom Malloy)
25B STEVE BUCKWALTER/Royersford, PA (Brian Buckwalter)
25K TAYLOR REIMER/Bixby, OK (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
25L C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Petry Motorsports)
25m COLBY COPELAND/Roseville, CA (Tom Malloy)
26 CHANCE CRUM/Snohomish, WA (Rudeen Racing)
29 TIMMY BUCKWALTER/Douglassville, PA (Matt Seymour Racing)
Q32 PETER PAULSON/Woodland, CA (Barrie Valentino)
36 CHRIS BAUE/Indianapolis, IN (Baue Racing)
36c IAN CREAGER/Covington, OH (Tod Creager)
37 JIMI QUIN/Palmerston North, N.Z. (A.J. Felker Racing)
37x ANTON HERNANDEZ/Arlington, TX (A.J. Felker Racing)
39BC EMERSON AXSOM/Franklin, IN (Clauson Marshall Racing)
39N RYAN NEWMAN/South Bend, IN (Clauson Marshall Racing)
40 CHASE McDERMAND/Springfield, IL (Mounce-Stout Motorsports)
40B BLAKE BRANNON/Morgan Hill, CA (Western Speed Racing)
41 OLIVER AKARD/Fort Myers, FL (OMR Motorsports)
46 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (Gamester Racing)
51 ZACH BODEN/Cambridge, WI (Boden Racing)
55 NICK DRAKE/Mooresville, NC (Troy Cline)
57 MARIA COFER/Macdoel, CA (Abacus Racing)
61 JACOB DENNEY/Galloway, OH (Mounce-Stout Motorsports)
67 BUDDY KOFOID/Penngrove, CA (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
68 JASON McDOUGAL/Broken Arrow, OK (Six8 Motorsports)
71 KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
71E MARIAH EDE/Fresno, CA (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
71K DOMINIC GORDEN/Clovis, CA (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
71m CADE LEWIS/Bakersfield, CA (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
71w DILLON WELCH/Carmel, IN (Paul May Motorsports)
74 SHELDON CREED/Alpine, CA (Abacus Racing)
75AU BRYAN STANFILL/Bakersfield, CA (Griffiths Motorsport)
81 GREYSON SPRINGER/Lafayette, IN (Gray Racing)
84 JADE AVEDISIAN/Clovis, CA (CB Industries)
85 JERRY COONS JR./Tucson, AZ (Central Motorsports)
86 KYLE LARSON/Elk Grove, CA (CB Industries)
87 JACE PARK/Overland Park, KS (CB Industries)
88 SCOTT ORR/Columbia City, IN (Scott Orr)
89 MITCHEL MOLES/Raisin City, CA (CB Industries)
89x CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL (CB Industries)
97 BRENHAM CROUCH/Lubbock, TX (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
97J JIM JONES/Ventura, CA (Jim Jones Motorsports)
97K RYAN TIMMS/Oklahoma City, OK (Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports)
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-1188, 2-Justin Grant-1111, 3-Thomas Meseraull-950, 4-Mitchel Moles-942, 5-Cannon McIntosh-909, 6-Bryant Wiedeman-887, 7-Kaylee Bryson-867, 8-Logan Seavey-753, 9-Ethan Mitchell-727, 10-Jacob Denney-710.
PAST BC39 FEATURE WINNERS:
2018: Brady Bacon
2019: Zeb Wise
2021: Kyle Larson
PAST STOOPS PURSUIT WINNERS:
2018: Zeb Wise
2019: Kyle Larson
2021: Kyle Larson
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC NATIONAL MIDGETS AT THE DIRT TRACK AT IMS:
10 Laps – 8/19/2021 – Emerson Axsom – 2:04.91
PAST BC39 FEATURE RESULTS:
2018 FEATURE: (39 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (7), 2. Chad Boat (10), 3. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1), 4. Tyler Courtney (2), 5. Christopher Bell (17), 6. Alex Bright (8), 7. Justin Grant (6), 8. Holly Shelton (9), 9. Jerry Coons Jr. (5), 10. Ryan Robinson (3), 11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (11), 12. Chris Windom (22), 13. Logan Seavey (23), 14. Zeb Wise (14), 15. Shane Cottle (13), 16. Jason McDougal (25), 17. Maria Cofer (24), 18. Terry Babb (20), 19. Brayton Lynch (4), 20. David Budres (19), 21. Brian Karraker (21), 22. Tyler Thomas (18), 23. Tucker Klaasmeyer (15), 24. Jake Neuman (16), 25. Dillon Welch (12), 26. Dave Darland (26). NT
2019 FEATURE: (39 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Zeb Wise (5), 2. Tyler Courtney (20), 3. Chris Windom (6), 4. Chad Boat (16), 5. Logan Seavey (14), 6. Jesse Colwell (24), 7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (15), 8. Kevin Thomas Jr. (3), 9. Kyle Larson (12), 10. Justin Grant (11), 11. Dillon Welch (8), 12. Tanner Carrick (23), 13. Michael Pickens (4), 14. Gio Scelzi (9), 15. Christopher Bell (17), 16. Brady Bacon (10), 17. Jason McDougal (7), 18. Cannon McIntosh (22), 19. Thomas Meseraull (1), 20. Spencer Bayston (2), 21. Tyler Thomas (13), 22. Tucker Klaasmeyer (18), 23. Jerry Coons Jr. (19), 24. Chase Briscoe (21), 25. Jake Neuman (26), 26. C.J. Leary (25). NT
2021 FEATURE: (39 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Larson (4), 2. Justin Grant (1), 3. Brady Bacon (6), 4. Daison Pursley (3), 5. Emerson Axsom (19), 6. Ryan Timms (2), 7. Tanner Thorson (21-P), 8. Tyler Courtney (7), 9. Jerry Coons Jr. (9), 10. Buddy Kofoid (13), 11. Chase Briscoe (22), 12. Spencer Bayston (14), 13. Kevin Thomas Jr. (11), 14. Zeb Wise (25-P), 15. Logan Seavey (20), 16. Cole Bodine (12), 17. Kyle Cummins (16), 18. Karter Sarff (17), 19. Kaylee Bryson (18), 20. Chase Randall (24-P), 21. Chris Windom (8), 22. Cannon McIntosh (10), 23. Hayden Williams (23), 24. Thomas Meseraull (5), 25. Corey Day (15). NT