ROSSBURG, Ohio – Buddy Kofoid will freely admit he was surprised when his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports team was extended an invite to this week’s Governors Reign at Eldora Speedway.
However, the 18-year-old from Penngrove, Calif., was quick to add he’s not complaining, either.
Kofoid will be one of 48 drivers trying to pocket the $52,000 payday that awaits at the end of Wednesday night’s headliner, part of a two-day event at the half-mile dirt track on Sept. 22-23.
He told SPEED SPORT in advance of the event that he was “fully prepared” to try and campaign his way in via the fan vote program that took place recently, but being told he was locked into the field allowed Kofoid’s KKM squad to focus all their efforts on preparing a top-notch race car well in advance.
“I didn’t think we’d have a guaranteed slot, honestly,” Kofoid admitted. “It’s a really cool deal for us. It’s definitely a lot of pressure, because this field is made up of pretty much the best guys from every big sprint car series that you can think of. To know that I made that list was pretty darn cool. Not to have to do the fan vote took a lot of hustling off our shoulders, and I’m sure a lot of people checked how to get into the race the same way that we did. So to see all that play out the way it did was pretty cool.
“It should be fun getting back to Eldora, too,” he added. “This will probably be the only sprint car race there all year, so to be able to do it and say we were a part of it will be really cool.”
Kofoid was quick to add that, for he and the other 47 drivers in attendance at the Governor’s Reign, “it will be a special feeling” to be a part of the lone sprint car event taking place at Eldora in 2020.
“There were a lot of races that had to be canceled at Eldora this year, obviously with the pandemic and how things have shaken out in Ohio, so to see that this race was actually going to be able to happen was really cool,” Kofoid noted. “Then to realize that we were going to be in the race was even cooler. Eldora is a tough place, but we ran pretty well at the 4-Crown (Nationals) last year with the Kunz sprint car. So hopefully we can repeat that again and maybe even go be a little bit better.
“Like I said, it’s going to be a tough race, but it’s really exciting to get back to Eldora and be a part of their only sprint car race this year.”
While Kofoid has been most known for his exploits behind the wheel of a KKM midget this season, picking up a win with the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series and six more with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League, he does have some experience at Eldora in a winged sprint car.
Kofoid raced with the All Stars last September at Eldora during the 4-Crown Nationals, picking up a heat race victory and a fourth-place finish in the 30-lap feature.
The young Californian believes that experience, even though it might not be as vast as those he’ll be racing against Tuesday and Wednesday, will help him as he fights for a strong result.
“Eldora is kind of a niche place. It can take some time to get good there, and I still need some time there, but I’ve done a handful of sprint car races there and at least know a little bit of what to expect,” Kofoid noted. “Any race is better than no race at a track. To have that experience in a sprint car there, and particularly in Keith’s car a couple of times there, is also really good. I think we even have a little bit better package now than what we had last year, and we had a fourth-place finish with the All Stars last year (at Eldora). So we’ve been working pretty hard on our stuff and getting ready for this; hopefully we’ll be pretty good.
“Like I said before, it’s a tough deal with all the guys that are there, but hopefully we can hit it right out of the gate and just be on top of it every time we hit the track.”
As for the task at hand, Kofoid knows that any attempt to win the race will likely go through Kyle Larson, who has earned 39 victories on dirt this season – including 30 wins in the Silva Motorsports No. 57.
“It’s a tough question; if I knew I’d be rich already, right?” Kofoid joked with a laugh. “I guess we just have to be the first person to cross the checkers before him, somehow. No matter who’s there, though, you want to be good every time you hit the track. That first hurdle, especially with the All Star format, is getting through qualifying … and then if you qualify well, you’re usually in a good position for your heat race. If you get through the heat race and have a little luck on your side with the pill draw, and continue to have speed from the heat race into the dash and main event … it’s just about moving from one thing to the next, I feel like.
“Putting the whole night together and being fast every time you hit the track is key to being on top of it. I think that applies for any type of racing, but especially any type of dirt racing that we do,” Kofoid continued. “We just have to start strong, have a little bit of luck on our side, and make sure all the speed is there. If we do that, I think you could see us with a shot at that big check before it’s all said and done.”