Story By: BRIAN WALKER / XTREME OUTLAW SERIES – TULSA, OK – In the chase for the inaugural season championship, there was one big thing missing from Zach Daum’s season – a Feature win. Thursday night at Port City Raceway, he finally got it.
Daum, the current Series points leader from Pocahontas, IL, was forced to fend-off challenges from several contenders in the Keith Kunz Motorsports stable over the course of 55 laps around the high-banked, 1/8-mile. But he pulled through, riding the bottom groove all the way to Victory Lane to collect his first career Feature win with the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota.
Going winless through the first seven Series races was starting to cross Daum’s mind more frequently as of late, and he decided to do something about it. The win Thursday night makes him the eighth different winner in eight Series races, earning him a $5,555 check for his first career victory in the Donnie Ray Crawford Sooner State 55.
“It means a lot to Bundy [Built Motorsports], it means a lot to Whitz Racing Products, it means a lot to PME Engines, just everybody that helps this deal,” Daum said. “They work hard at this and I just wanted to get them a win. They’ve been gracious enough to let me race their car this year, and we just needed to get a win. I’m glad we got one.”
After winning Schoenfeld Headers Heat Race #3, Daum pulled the #6 pill from the inversion draw bucket, placing him outside Row 3 on the Feature starting grid. He made quick work of the top-five in the opening laps, passing his way into the top-three by Lap 6.
By Lap 20, he was up to second, getting past Brenham Crouch one lap prior and working the bottom lane to his advantage. Behind him, KKM entrant Brent Crews was winding-up the momentum on the top side and knocking on Daum’s door.
Crews soon drove around Daum and leader Gavin Miller to take the top spot and continued the torrid pace around the track. That was, until a Lap 30 restart, when the cushion began giving him issues and Daum was able to drive back by him on the bottom.
“I knew that them guys would start missing the bottom, and that’s when it would kinda get into my wheelhouse,” Daum said. “We caught lapped traffic, and then Brent [Crews] drove by… I needed someone to go to the top first. That way, the other two – the 71 and the 97 – I knew as soon as they saw someone go to the top, they would both abandon ship and that would leave me free on the bottom.”
Now with the lead again and a clear track ahead of him, Daum set his sights on Victory Lane. He kept it locked to the bottom and was pulling away as the laps wound down, until he reached the rear of the field with five laps remaining.
KKM driver Gavan Boschele, the 14-year-old sensation from Mooresville, NC, was on a mad-dash to the front in the final laps and had taken second on Lap 41 after the last restart. Charging all the way from 19th, Boschele was bound and determined to get to Daum’s rear bumper as he approached heavy lapped traffic.
“The first 15-20 laps, I was just kinda rolling the bottom, kinda taking it easy and picking cars off,” Boschele said. “Halfway through, I was just on go-mode. After I dodged all the wrecks and stuff, my mind was set on getting to the front.”
With five-to-go, Boschele’s gap to Daum was down to only a half-second and he could see Daum also getting held-up by the slower cars. It was all he could do to slide it deep into the corners and get by as many as possible, but Daum found a way through faster, freeing himself from the traffic web and crossing the stripe to taste victory.
“I think that would’ve won me the race if I could’ve just got by those two lapped cars in front of me,” Boschele said. “I think I could’ve caught up to [Daum] if I had a clear racetrack in front of me.”
Now on the brink of clinching the Series points championship with two races remaining, thoughts of points scenarios begin to cross everyone’s mind. However, Daum has found his own way to stay cool in pressure situations.
“I’ve been in this situation before, so I try not to think about it too much,” Daum said. “It’s always in the back of your mind a little bit, but you just try to keep doing what you’re doing.”
Louisianan Chelby Hinton made his first national Midget Feature start Thursday night and made it count, crossing the stripe P3 after charging from 21st on the starting grid. The young Micro Sprint regular made it to second at one point and began working on finding a way around Daum for the lead, but was soon met with an infield tractor tire.
“I knew Daum was going to be tough on the bottom, and he always is,” Hinton said. “I tried to mimic him; I mimicked him for about two laps, and then I hit the tire in Turns 1-2 and I lost him. Then, Boschele got by me.”
The Xtreme Outlaw Series presented by Toyota is back in action Friday night, Oct. 14, at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City for the kickoff to the 18th annual Charlene Meents Memorial race. Tickets will be on sale at the gate.
Feature (55 Laps): 1. 9M-Zach Daum; 2. 5-Gavan Boschele; 3. 14X-Chelby Hinton; 4. 7U-Kyle Jones; 5. 01-Bryant Wiedeman; 6. 71-Daison Pursley; 7. 97-Brenham Crouch; 8. 25K-Taylor Reimer; 9. 84-Jade Avedisian; 10. 71M-Gavin Miller; 11. 71K-Dominic Gorden; 12. 19M-Ethan Mitchell; 13. 19AZ-Hayden Reinbold; 14. 55-Jonathan Beason; 15. 26R-Corbin Rueschenberg; 16. 72J-Sam Johnson; 17. 21-Emilio Hoover; 18. 71E-Mariah Ede; 19. 57-Daniel Whitley; 20. 97K-Brent Crews; 21. 61-Kale Drake; 22. 40-Chase McDermand; 23. 8-Alex Sewell; 24. 08-Cannon McIntosh; 25. 26-Chance Crum