Story By: RICHIE MURRAY / USAC – SPEEDWAY, IN – The surname “Gordon” has long resonated around the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
After all, Jeff Gordon did score five career Brickyard 400 wins throughout his illustrious career with NASCAR on the 2.5-mile paved oval.
On Wednesday night, this time it was a “Gorden” who made his initial flash on the quarter-mile dirt oval at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Clovis, California’s Dominic Gorden led wire-to-wire for all five segments, 25 laps in total, to win the unique Stoops Pursuit special event race for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, part of the opening night festivities for the Driven2SaveLives BC39 Presented by WeatherTech.
The 16-year-old’s first ever IMS experience was punctuated with his first ride aboard Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports’ Eibach Springs-sponsored Bullet By Spike powered by a Speedway Toyota. Utilizing his new digs, Gorden started up front and stayed up front throughout the distance with little resistance.
The objective of the Stoops Pursuit is fairly straightforward – don’t get passed and don’t be involved in an incident in which you stop. Gorden thwarted what threats did come his way as the USAC series Rookie officially put his name in the record books as a winner on the grounds of IMS.
“I was pretty nervous going into it,” Gorden acknowledged. “But after we got past the first and second yellow, I got a little more comfortable with every green flag run we got.”
After a relatively brief, but heavy shower earlier in the night, Gorden earned his way into the Pursuit after collecting a heat race win. When the time came to put up, Gorden stuck his number 71K on the bottom and kept the 25-car field at arm’s length throughout.
Among other objectives is successfully navigating the built-in restarts for the event, and Gorden succeeded in devising his own gameplan to endure any run made at him.
“I didn’t try too many tricks,” Gorden noted. “I had to switch up my restarts a little bit and not miss the bottom.”
Gorden’s first and foremost challenge was trying to keep it clean for 25 laps without a hiccup from either himself or the field bearing down on him. However, that sure wasn’t quite the case behind him.
Trouble ensued on the opening lap when fourth-starting Michael Faccinto’s left front tire connected with the right rear of Ethan Mitchell. The contact sent Faccinto suddenly veering right in turn four, then barrel-rolling twice over and avoiding injury.
Any driver involved in a caution was subsequently eliminated from the contest, spelling doom for heavy hitters Justin Grant, Thomas Meseraull and Chance Crum on the initial start. Kyle Larson, the winner of the last two Stoops Pursuits in 2019 and 2021, plowed into the still Crum’s left front wheel, ramping over it with his left front wheel. Boom. Just like that. All five drivers were done before a lap was even completed.
Entering the last five-lap segment, it was go time. Second-running Trey Gropp made his bid for the lead, pulling even with Gorden on the bottom at the entry to turn three on lap 22, to no avail. Zach Daum, who sat fourth for most of the duration, swept by his Bundy Built Motorsports teammate Mitchell on lap 23, then tracked down Gropp and overtook him at the exit of turn four coming to the white flag.
By then, it was too late. Gorden had firmly established his dominance at the start and finished off an impressive victory in the non-points special event. Of note, Gorden, who made eight USAC National Midget feature starts earlier this season with CB Industries, had only once finished inside the top-ten, scoring a 10th on June 5 at Tri-State Speedway during Indiana Midget Week.
Gorden also become the third different winner in the Stoops Pursuit’s four-year history, joining Zeb Wise (2018) and Kyle Larson (2019 & 2021).
Daum grabbed second, 0.678 sec. behind Gorden at the stripe. Gropp collected third with Cannon McIntosh advancing from 20th to 4th. Ethan Mitchell rounded out the top-five.
Eight different states were represented by the top-eight finishers: Gorden (California), Daum (Illinois), Gropp (Nebraska), McIntosh (Oklahoma), Mitchell (North Carolina), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Mississippi), C.J. Leary (Indiana) and Jerry Coons Jr. (Arizona).
Ten heat races were held earlier on Wednesday evening with teammates Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) and Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) tied for the number one position for the BC39 event points, earning 160 points each for their eighth to first runs during their respective heat races.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 3, 2022 – The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Speedway, Indiana – Driven2SaveLives BC39 Presented by WeatherTech – 1/4-Mile Dirt Track
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Chris Windom (#89x CBI), 2. Trey Gropp (#08x Dave Mac Dalby), 3. Austin Barnhill (#17B Dave Mac Dalby), 4. Jerry Coons Jr. (#85 Central), 5. Hayden Reinbold (#19AZ Reinbold-Underwood), 6. Rylan Gray (#06 Gray), 7. Dillon Welch (#71w May), 8. Travis Buckley (#7 BSL). NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Jade Avedisian (#84 CBI), 2. Ryan Timms (#97K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 3. Michael Pickens (#17 Shophouse), 4. Taylor Reimer (#25K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 5. Jacob Denney (#61 Mounce-Stout), 6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (08s Dave Mac Dalby), 7. Chris Baue (#36 Baue), 8. Jeff Schindler (#8x Schindler), 9. Ian Creager (#36c Creager).
PIT STOP USA THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Buddy Kofoid (#67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Brenham Crouch (#97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 3. Kyle Larson (#86 CBI), 4. Sheldon Creed (#74 Abacus), 5. Blake Brannon (#40B Western Speed), 6. Kyle Jones (#7u Trifecta), 7. Zach Veach (#21 Ripper), 8. Jason McDougal (#68 Six8), 9. Josh Hodge (#5J Rose).
ROD END SUPPLY FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Chance Crum (#26 Rudeen), 2. Cannon McIntosh (#08 Dave Mac Dalby), 3. Jace Park (#87 CBI), 4. Donny Schatz (#15 Spike/Curb-Agajanian), 5. Cade Lewis (#71m Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Greyson Springer (#81G Gray), 7. Braden Chiaramonte (#25 Malloy), 8. Timmy Buckwalter (#29 Seymour), 9. Zach Boden (#51 Dohner).
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIFTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Michael Faccinto (#15F Mounce-Stout), 2. Emerson Axsom (#39BC Clauson Marshall), 3. Adam Taylor (#7T Taylor), 4. Bill Rose (#6 Rose), 5. Steve Buckwalter (#25B Buckwalter), 6. A.J. Hopkins (#7R RAMCO).
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SIXTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Mitchel Moles (#89 CBI), 2. Brady Bacon (#21H TKH), 3. Kaylee Bryson (#71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. C.J. Leary (#25L Petry), 5. Alex Watson (#11T Taylor), 6. Shannon McQueen (#7 McQueen), 7. Kyle Keaton (#6K Keaton), 8. Jim Jones (#97J Jones), 9. Jadon Rogers (#7m RAMCO).
PIT STOP USA SEVENTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Tyler Courtney (#7BC Clauson Marshall), 2. Kyle Cummins (#3G Styres), 3. Karter Sarff (#21K Sarff), 4. Russ Gamester (#46 Gamester), 5. Colby Copeland (#25m Malloy), 6. Michelle Decker (#7D Decker), 7. Anton Hernandez (#37x Felker), 8. Jordan Kinser (#5LK Briscoe).
ROD END SUPPLY EIGHTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Ethan Mitchell (#19m Bundy Built), 2. Thomas Meseraull (#7x RMS), 3. Mariah Ede (#71E Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Maria Cofer (#57 Abacus), 5. Bryant Wiedeman (#01 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Ryan Newman (#39N Clauson Marshall), 7. Isaac Chapple (#6x Hall), 8. Justin Dickerson (#21D Dickerson).
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS NINTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Dominic Gorden (#71K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Chase Briscoe (#5B Briscoe), 3. J.J. Yeley (#0G Styres), 4. Nick Drake (#55 Cline), 5. Barrie Valentino (#Q23 Valentino), 6. John Heydenreich (#22 Heydenreich), 7. Jimi Quin (#37x Felker), 8. Casey Burkham (#7MR RAMCO).
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) TENTH HEAT: (10 laps, passing points) 1. Zach Daum (#9m Bundy Built), 2. Justin Grant (#2J RMS), 3. Riley Kreisel (#19K Cox), 4. Logan Seavey (#19 Reinbold-Underwood), 5. Chase McDermand (#40 Mounce-Stout), 6. Bryan Stanfill (#75AU Griffiths), 7. Scott Orr (#88 Orr), 8. Alex Nalon (#18N Nalon), 9. Ryan Thomas (#1 Wingo).
ALSO AT THE TRACK: Clinton Boyles (#11 Beierle) & Peter Paulson (#Q32 Valentino)
STOOPS PURSUIT: (25 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Dominic Gorden (1), 2. Zach Daum (7), 3. Trey Gropp (3), 4. Cannon McIntosh (20), 5. Ethan Mitchell (5), 6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (21-P), 7. C.J. Leary (25-P), 8. Jerry Coons Jr. (22-P), 9. Brady Bacon (11), 10. Jade Avedisian (19), 11. Buddy Kofoid (16), 12. Donny Schatz (24-P), 13. Karter Sarff (9), 14. Mitchel Moles (17), 15. Tyler Courtney (18), 16. Chase Briscoe (23-P), 17. J.J. Yeley (2), 18. Chris Windom (6), 19. Kyle Larson (12), 20. Michael Faccinto (4), 21. Chance Crum (8), 22. Emerson Axsom (15), 23. Justin Grant (10), 24. Michael Pickens (13), 25. Thomas Meseraull (14).
**(P) represents a promoter’s option
STOOPS PURSUIT LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-25 Dominic Gorden.
**Cannon McIntosh flipped during the fourth heat. Michael Faccinto flipped on lap 1 of the Stoops Pursuit.
BC39 EVENT POINTS: 1-Mitchel Moles & Chris Windom-160, 3-Cannon McIntosh-153, 4-Zach Daum-150, 5-Justin Grant-148, 6-Trey Gropp & Thomas Meseraull-143, 8-Kyle Larson-141, 9-Ethan Mitchell-140, 10-Emerson Axsom & Brady Bacon.
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Cannon McIntosh (12.136)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Chris Windom
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Jade Avedisian
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Buddy Kofoid
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat Winner: Chance Crum
Simpson Race Products Fifth Heat Winner: Michael Faccinto
Competition Suspension, Inc. Sixth Heat Winner: Mitchel Moles
Pit Stop USA Seventh Heat Winner: Tyler Courtney
Rod End Supply Eighth Heat Winner: Ethan Mitchell
Simpson Race Products Ninth Heat Winner: Dominic Gorden
Competition Suspension, Inc. Tenth Heat Winner: Zach Daum