AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Michael Pickens delivered an all-star victory for his home crowd during Sunday’s finale to the United Truck Parts Int’l Midget Series at Western Springs Speedway.
Pickens romped to his seventh World 50 win at the .285-mile New Zealand dirt track, coming out on top of a mid-race duel with American Tyler Courtney and pulling away down the stretch.
The eight-time New Zealand national midget champion led the final 24 laps after dispatching Courtney and took the checkered flag in front by an impressive 4.103 seconds.
Sunday’s win capped a roller-coaster run through the International Midget Series for Pickens, who won the Boxing Day Bash on Dec. 26 but then flipped out of the lead while chasing his second triumph of the series on Dec. 30 at Western Springs.
All told, it was his 21st career International Midget Series victory and 66th all-time midget win at Western Springs.
Courtney, who had won the last two midget events at Western Springs entering Sunday’s headliner, finished second but was no match for Pickens’ sheer speed down the stretch.
However, Courtney’s runner-up effort – combined with his two wins and a run of consistency throughout the six-race series – was enough to net him the 2019-20 United Truck Parts Int’l Midget Series points championship.
NASCAR Cup Series star Kyle Larson completed the podium in Sunday’s feature, followed by Australian Kaidon Brown and another American in Zach Daum.
Hayden Williams, Logan Seavey, Brock Maskovich, Hamish Dobbyn and Travis Buckley were the balance of the top 10.
A disastrous International Midget Series trip for teenage standout Zeb Wise came to an end with another DNF, as he finished 23rd in the 24-car field after running just three laps.
Notably, American Chris Windom failed to qualify for the World 50 feature, relegated to the B-main after a disappointing qualifying effort and failing to complete a lap in the semi.
Michael Pickens, Tyler Courtney, Kyle Larson, Kaidon Brown, Zach Daum, Hayden Williams, Logan Seavey, Brock Maskovich, Hamish Dobbyn, Travis Buckley, Matthew McCutcheon, James Cossey, James Earl, Ryan O’Connor, Breyton Davison, Peter Hunnibell, Aaron Hodgson, Max Guildford, Jayden Worthington, Hayden Guptill, Jayden Dodge, Brett Morris Jr., Zeb Wise, Shayne Alach.