T-Mez Thrills with Last Corner Pass to Win Paragon IMW Opener
By Richie Murray, USAC Media (Paragon, IN) -- From the drop of the green flag until his drop to the ground in his post-race celebration, Thomas Meseraull captivated the audience with a wildly entertaining Indiana Midget Week opener Thursday night at Paragon Speedway.
Meseraull charged from his 12th starting position to track down Cannon McIntosh on the final corner of the final lap, and with one swift move coming off turn four, the San Jose, California native delivered a dramatic last push to earn his first career Indiana Midget Week victory in his 28th IMW start.
Following the drama of the final lap, Meseraull delivered an encore performance of unintentional physical comedy when he lost his balance and fell from the top of his roll cage onto the ground below. Dusting himself off, and without hesitation, Meseraull joyously jumped to his feet ran full sprint toward the jubilant crowd with both arms raised in triumph.
All that came following an abundance of rainfall that moisturized the 3/8-mile dirt oval and pit area, making it a “cowboy up” surface with a skyscraper tall curb, which, at first, gave Meseraull a tad bit of trepidation. However, T-Mez was singing a triumphant tune at the conclusion of the evening despite having to dig his way through from deep in the field.
“This thing came out of the B-Main. We started 12th and drove by everybody,” Meseraull reiterated. “These types of tracks, where I really just wanted to go home when I got here, they seem to be the types of tracks that I run really good at. Hats off to everybody that helped get this thing in tonight.”
Meseraull became the second driver during the 2021 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget season to win a feature after starting his race from the back half of the field. Buddy Kofoid began the April 10 race at Port City Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. from 16th and drove to the win.
After going winless in his first 88 USAC National Midget starts, since last Fall, Meseraull has now won four of his last 13 series appearances in his RMS Racing/EnviroFab – Response Management Services – Engler Machine/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“(Crew chief) Donnie (Gentry) and I just click, (team owners) Dave Estep and Matt Estep, these guys give me the best of the best,” Meseraull praised. “We got Danny Drinan here and we’ve got the Dri-Bar on it. It seems to be really good in the rough, but I’m good too.”
Meseraull’s RMS teammate Justin Grant secured the lead for the first two laps of the 30-lap feature from the pole position. When Grant stumbled in turn two on the third lap, McIntosh was on the scene to capitalize, ducking under Grant for the top spot.
Grant stalked McIntosh relentlessly throughout the first half but, seemingly, each time he got nearer to McIntosh’s rear bumper, Grant would snag a fork in the road, halting his march dead in his tracks, forcing him to regroup and reload for another shot.
Nearing halfway, McIntosh’s brakes were throwing a shower of sparks from the left rear of the car as he navigated his way through the back end of the field. A lap 18 caution for a turn one spin by 13th running Brenham Crouch, however, brought about the feature’s lone caution period and, thus, removed the traffic factor of traffic.
McIntosh’s strong restart with 13 laps remaining allowed the Oklahoman to build a steady foundation in which to distance himself from the RMS duo of Grant and the suddenly emerging Meseraull. Nonetheless, within a couple of laps, the distance between the trio had shrunk to virtually nothing.
On the 22nd lap, Grant slid up the racetrack in turn four, opening the door for Meseraull to get a foothold underneath, then beat Grant to the bottom in turn one to gain the second position.
Meseraull’s only target now was chasing down McIntosh, which didn’t take long after McIntosh’s recovery from a bike in turn one with seven laps remaining. On lap 26, 28 and 29, Meseraull was able to pull even with McIntosh between turns one two but fell back in line behind McIntosh down the back straightaway while contemplating his next move on the chess board.
On the final lap, the same scene played out in turns one and two with Meseraull unable to find enough oomph to budge ahead of McIntosh. After settling in behind McIntosh exiting turn two, Meseraull played his hand slightly differently, taking his line a bit higher on entry into turn three while McIntosh sort of slid himself from bottom to top. With a slight diamond off the corner of turns three and four, Meseraull sped under and past McIntosh for the triumph just two car lengths in front at the line, 0.171 seconds ahead.
McIntosh equaled his best series finish of the season with a runner-up result in his Dave Mac Motorsports/DriveWFX.com – SBS Shocks – D.A. McIntosh/Spike/Speedway Toyota. Although understandably frustrated by the heartbreaking result, the Bixby, Okla. driver remained pleased with a finish they’ve sorely needed amid a somewhat inconsistent season.
“That one was really hard to watch slip away there off of four,” McIntosh admitted. “I felt like we had one of the best cars here tonight. I don’t know if T-Mez was just a little better there at the end, but I think we definitely had enough to hold him off. It’s so close down there with the grease, to the grip, and I saw him off of two; he was really close. I tried to block, but it just got a little tight on me, and I let it slip away. I had a really good starting spot in the feature, and we walked away there in the beginning, but just one little mistake in the end got us.”
Grant’s contrarily consistent campaign continued Thursday at Paragon with a 3rd place finish in his RMS Racing/NOS Energy Drink – EnviroFab – Response Mgmt. Services/Spike/Speedway Toyota. For the reigning USAC Silver Crown champion, it was his seventh consecutive top-seven USAC National Midget finish of the season.
Of note, in the third eight-lap heat race of the evening, Jason McDougal set a brand-new track record for the distance with the USAC National Midgets at Paragon, recording a time of 2:10.840, breaking the former record held by Wes Stafford, which was set in 1977, by nearly 11 full seconds.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 3, 2021 – Paragon Speedway – Paragon, Indiana – 17th Indiana Midget Week – 3/8-Mile Dirt Oval
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Chris Windom, 89, CBI-15.809; 2. Ryan Timms, 85, CBI-15.957; 3. Logan Seavey, 25, Malloy-16.019; 4. Brenham Crouch, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-16.086; 5. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, RMS-16.134; 6. Emerson Axsom, 15, Petry-16.204; 7. Buddy Kofoid, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-16.239; 8. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac-16.257; 9. Justin Grant, 2J, RMS-16.369; 10. Hayden Williams, 1NZ, BSL-16.442; 11. Corey Day, 47BC, Clauson Marshall-16.443; 12. Daison Pursley, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-16.469; 13. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5, Petry-16.477; 14. Kyle Cummins, 3G, Styres-16.490; 15. Jason McDougal, 4, Dalby-16.497; 16. Brian Carber, 19, Hayward-16.515; 17. Bryant Wiedeman, 01, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-16.587; 18. Chance Crum, 26, Rudeen-16.646; 19. Sam Johnson, 72J, Johnson-16.669; 20. Chase Randall, 19A, Reinbold/Underwood-16.670; 21. Bryan Stanfill, 75AU, Griffith-16.818; 22. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-16.875; 23. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-16.882; 24. Trey Gropp, 00, MSW-16.927; 25. Kaylee Bryson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-16.939; 26. Brady Bacon, 21H, TKH-17.034; 27. Tyler Nelson, 88, Nelson-17.038; 28. Cole Bodine, 39BC, Clauson Marshall-17.127; 29. Tanner Thorson, 19T, Reinbold/Underwood-17.200; 30. Blake Brannon, 40, Brannon-17.287; 31. Chett Gehrke, 37, Felker-17.587; 32. Stephen Schnapf, 11s, Martin-17.616; 33. Max Guilford, 3NZ, Benic-17.707; 34. Travis Buckley, 7NZ, BSL-18.241; 35. Michael Clark, 8, Clark-18.423.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Bryant Wiedeman, 2. Bryan Stanfill, 3. Chris Windom, 4. Justin Grant, 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 6. Thomas Meseraull, 7. Tanner Thorson, 8. Kaylee Bryson, 9. Max Guilford. 2:14.907
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Chance Crum, 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Hayden Williams, 4. Ryan Timms, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Hayden Reinbold, 7. Travis Buckley, 8. Emerson Axsom, 9. Blake Brannon. NT
INDY METAL FINISHING THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Jason McDougal, 2. Ethan Mitchell, 3. Buddy Kofoid, 4. Logan Seavey, 5. Corey Day, 6. Sam Johnson, 7. Tyler Nelson, 8. Chett Gehrke, 9. Michael Clark. 2:10.840 (New Track Record)
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Daison Pursley, 2. Trey Gropp, 3. Chase Randall, 4. Cannon McIntosh, 5. Cole Bodine, 6. Stephen Schnapf, 7. Brenham Crouch, 8. Brian Carber. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Brenham Crouch, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Corey Day, 4. Emerson Axsom, 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 6. Sam Johnson, 7. Cole Bodine, 8. Brady Bacon, 9. Tanner Thorson, 10. Hayden Reinbold, 11. Tyler Nelson, 12. Kaylee Bryson, 13. Blake Brannon, 14. Chett Gehrke, 15. Max Guilford, 16. Travis Buckley, 17. Stephen Schnapf, 18. Michael Clark. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Thomas Meseraull (12), 2. Cannon McIntosh (2), 3. Justin Grant (1), 4. Buddy Kofoid (3), 5. Logan Seavey (4), 6. Jason McDougal (8), 7. Daison Pursley (7), 8. Emerson Axsom (13), 9. Chris Windom (6), 10. Hayden Williams (14), 11. Ryan Timms (5), 12. Bryant Wiedeman (9), 13. Tanner Thorson (23-P), 14. Kyle Cummins (17), 15. Corey Day (15), 16. Trey Gropp (22), 17. Kevin Thomas Jr. (16), 18. Chance Crum (10), 19. Sam Johnson (18), 20. Ethan Mitchell (21), 21. Hayden Reinbold (24-P), 22. Brenham Crouch (11), 23. Bryan Stanfill (20), 24. Chase Randall (19). NT
P represents a provisional starter
**Brenham Crouch flipped during the fourth heat.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Justin Grant, Laps 3-29 Cannon McIntosh, Lap 30 Thomas Meseraull.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Buddy Kofoid-503, 2-Justin Grant-479, 3-Chris Windom-474, 4-Thomas Meseraull-467, 5-Tanner Thorson-446, 6-Emerson Axsom-429, 7-Cannon McIntosh-384, 8-Daison Pursley-375, 9-Jason McDougal-367, 10-Logan Seavey-363.
INDIANA MIDGET WEEK POINTS: 1-Thomas Meseraull-75, 2-Cannon McIntosh-72, 3-Justin Grant-69, 4-Buddy Kofoid-67, 5-Logan Seavey-67, 6-Jason McDougal-63, 7-Daison Pursley-60, 8-Chris Windom-58, 9-Emerson Axsom-51, 10-Ryan Timms-51.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Robert Ballou-60, 2-Thomas Meseraull-58, 3-Tanner Thorson-54, 4-Brady Bacon-43, 5-Chris Windom-39, 6-Buddy Kofoid-29, 7-Justin Grant-29, 8-Kevin Thomas Jr.-27, 9-C.J. Leary-23, 10-Jake Swanson-23.
INDIANA MIDGET WEEK PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Thomas Meseraull-11, 2-Trey Gropp-6, 3-Emerson Axsom-5, 4-Hayden Williams-5, 5-Tanner Thorson-5, 6-Cole Bodine-5, 7-Jason McDougal-4, 8-Kyle Cummins-4, 9-Daison Pursley-3, 10-Chris Windom-3.
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
GSP Driving Performance of the Night: Logan Seavey
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Chris Windom
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Bryant Wiedeman
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Chance Crum
Indy Metal Finishing Third Heat Winner: Jason McDougal
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Daison Pursley
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Brenham Crouch
KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger: Thomas Meseraull (12th to 1st)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Tanner Thorson
ProSource Hard Work Award: Trey Gropp
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Cole Bodine
Submitted By: Kirk Elliott