by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher Photo: Nick Zebelian, @nickzeb
The well-known adage goes “Get Your Ass To Kokomo,” and Kokomo certainly didn’t disappoint with the FloRacing All Star Circuit of Champions wrapping up their Indiana Invasion. Forty-two all stars would throw their hat in the ring for a chance at $26,000, in one of the most diverse and stout fields of sprint cars we’ve seen all year.
It was pretty rough getting things going for the 40 lap feature, but it was Buddy Kofoid and Tyler Courtney who led the field to green. The front row went side-by-side for the first lap, and then Courtney was able to pull a five to seven car-length gap on Kofoid. The first caution flew on lap five for a spinning Sam Hafertepe Jr. On the ensuing restart, Kofoid had a shot at Courtney for the lead, but any move would have been negated by the red flag, which came out for Zach Hampton.
The lap five restart wasn’t a great one for Kofoid, as Brady Bacon got by which allowed Courtney to gap them by 1.750 seconds, until a yellow came out for Paul McMahan. Kofoid’s race would end under this yellow as well, with a mechanical failure. Bacon bobbled on the restart, but the red came out immediately for a flipping Ian Madsen, which required some quick fence repair.
The next restart saw Bacon get by Courtney for the lead in turns three and four, and Courtney responded with a huge slider in one and two, and retook the lead. Another yellow would negate Courtney’s pass. On the restart, Courtney threw another huge slider, but Bacon was able to sneak by on the top by a hair. Bacon enjoyed a .609 second lead on lap 14, and everyone was hitting the wall all over the track. As Bacon got to lapped traffic on lap 18, Kerry Madsen had claimed second from Courtney and on the next circuit, they were at war for the lead. A war that would be paused by another yellow.
Under the yellow flag, Bacon, who was the leader, spun due to mechanical issues, which ended his race! Kerry Madsen then inherited the lead for the upcoming restart near the halfway point. Zeb Wise made sure he was known on the restart, rocketing up to the second position. Lap 23 saw Wise and Madsen start battling for the lead, and Wise won that battle. But Madsen didn’t give up. They were side-by-side for the lead, swapping it seemingly every corner. Madsen did gap Wise by .808 seconds at one point, but Madsen bobbled and Wise got right back to him. For the next five or so laps, it was all out war for the lead, until Madsen was able to get through lapped traffic better than Wise, eventually building a comfortable 1.341 second lead with seven laps left.
But wait, there’s more! With six laps left, Cap Henry went spinning in turns one and two, and it collected Madsen! Madsen tipped over, so the red came out and Zeb Wise took control of the race again with Courtney, Rico Abreu, Scotty Theil, and Cole Macedo behind him for a six lap shootout.
It was all Zeb Wise those last six laps though, as he didn’t have to worry about traffic. He claimed his first career All Star win over Courtney and Abreu in an absolute thriller.
“I love Kokomo Speedway, that’s all I really have to say,” said an excited Wise. “Badass race, fantastic track work. In the beginning, it was like two lap spurts and I couldn’t get anything going. I just kind of clicked away and started picking off cars. Everyone went to the bottom and I was kind of surprised by that. I didn’t have anything to lose, so I went up top and banged the wall down for however many laps and finally got to the lead. It got really technical off of turn four and I couldn’t seem to carry any speed. Kerry got back by me on the bottom of three and four and I knew that’s where I had to be and then he got caught up with the lapped car. On the restart, with Tyler behind me, I knew that he would probably roll the bottom all the way around, I just railed the top in one and two, and hit the bottom in three and four to protect as much as I could. The most nerve wracking part is when the last red came out because I thought ‘Oh no, I’m going to be leading this thing.’ Once they said six laps to go, it eased my mind because we weren’t going to catch lapped traffic. I could run my own pace, hit my marks and no one would be able to get back by me. It’s badass being able to win my first All Star race. I didn’t expect it to be one of the biggest All Star races of the year as my first one. It couldn’t be more fitting than to do it here at Kokomo. To get a win for these guys is really cool.”