Story By: JORDAN DELUCIA / XTREME OUTLAW SERIES – OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – With everything on the line in the final race of the year, two of the sport’s brightest young stars rose to the occasion Saturday night in the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota season finale.
Nineteen-year-old Hayden Reinbold led all 30 laps of the main event to score his first career national Midget series victory, winning the 19th annual Charlene Meents Memorial finale at I-44 Riverside Speedway and giving Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports their second Xtreme Outlaw Series winner trophy.
“It’s amazing, I’ve been wanting it for so long,” Reinbold said.
Beside him in the spotlight stood 17-year-old Jade Avedisian – who, with a third-place Feature finish, clinched the 2023 Xtreme Outlaw Series championship for Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) to become the first female national Midget series champion in motorsports history.
“It means the world to me,” Avedisian said. “Not only to me, but my team.”
From the announcement in early February that revealed Avedisian’s signing with KKM and their primary goal to win the Xtreme Outlaw Series championship, the hype for the season finale had been building. She and Cannon McIntosh emerged as early championship favorites after their wins to open the season at the Southern Illinois Center in March, and the battle came down to the 29th and final Feature event of the year Saturday night.
Coming into the 30-lap finale, Avedisian held a 27-point gap over McIntosh. Starting on the outside pole, Avedisian held strong up front throughout while McIntosh ran into trouble, narrowly avoiding a massive pileup on the first lap but later retiring to the infield under green eight laps in with mechanical failure, shattering his chances for the championship.
In Victory Lane, there were tears, smiles and hugs all around for Avedisian, her family and the KKM crew. She had widened her points gap to 59 over runner-up Zach Daum, who finished fifth in the Feature, and sealed the championship in her first season with Keith Kunz Motorsports.
“I’m just so happy to do it for KKM, Mobil 1, Toyota Racing,” Avedisian said. “So many people believe in me, and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. I’m truly grateful, and I’m excited to write my name in the history books.”
On the track, Reinbold reigned supreme. Standing tall over each of the championship frontrunners, Reinbold drove a flawless race, taking the lead on the opening lap from the pole and going unchallenged for 30 laps to score the $5,000 grand prize.
“I felt solid, Connor [Ridge, crew chief] was giving me signals that I was doing fine,” Reinbold said. “I just knew [to not] mess it up and I’d be fine.”
In only his fourth season of Midget racing, Reinbold made leaps and bounds much larger this year than those previous, improving his skills behind the wheel immensely since the first race in Du Quoin. Though things were slow-going at first, he’s glad he stuck it out to get to this moment.
“It goes back to 2020 – I went up to my dad and was like, ‘I wanna go race,’ and he sent me and Connor on the road,’” Reinbold said. “I struggled for a while, but Connor never gave up on me, my dad never gave up on me – they just kept believing in me. Finally, I felt like it all paid off for me and hopefully it paid off for them too.”
Karter Sarff earned the DIRTVision Hard Charger honors in his drive from 18th up to second. He made a special effort just to get into the main event, grabbing the last transfer spot in the second Last Chance Showdown to punch his ticket in. Thursday night winner Ryan Timms finished fourth while Zach Daum completed the top five – clinching the Xtreme Outlaw-POWRi Challenge Series championhip and a runner-up finish in points in the process.
Driven 2 Save Lives Feature (30 Laps): 1. 19AZ-Hayden Reinbold; 2. 21K-Karter Sarff; 3. 71-Jade Avedisian; 4. 67-Ryan Timms; 5. 7U-Zach Daum; 6. 97-Gavin Miller; 7. 25K-Taylor Reimer; 8. 7P-Kyle Jones; 9. 19A-Daison Pursley; 10. 13-Elijah Gile; 11. 43-Gunnar Setser; 12. 14R-Jonathan Beason; 13. 19M-Ethan Mitchell; 14. 97K-Cooper Williams; 15. 32-Trey Marcham; 16. 31K-Kyle Beilman; 17. 08-Cannon McIntosh; 18. 40-Chase McDermand; 19. 19K-Riley Kreisel; 20. 26R-Corbin Rueschenberg; 21. 5U-Peter Smith; 22. 19U-Pierce Urbanosky