FAIRBURY, Neb. — Buddy Kofoid hasn’t taken long to return to form following a vicious-looking crash with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League last Sunday at Missouri’s Valley Speedway.
Kofoid was on his way to victory in that event, coming to the white flag ahead of Logan Seavey, when he appeared to brush the wall off exiting turn four. His No. 67 flipped wildly.
Several harrowing minutes followed during an open red-flag period before Kofoid came out of his mangled race car to be checked by medical personnel. Additional tests followed during the week, and luckily for Kofoid, he was cleared to race with USAC on Friday.
It was an impeccable comeback, too, as Kofoid ran second behind winner Chris Windom at Nebraska’s Jefferson County Speedway on the opening night of the Midwest Midget Championship.
Before that, however, the Valley crash and concern over potential after-effects led to Kofoid sitting out Tuesday’s Brad Doty Classic — making the 18-year-old the so-called “missing man” at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park.
It was a noticeable absence, considering Kofoid — a native of Penngrove, Calif. — became a fan favorite in Ohio last year while driving Ed Neumeister’s familiar No. 11n sprint car.
Kofoid would have reprised that role Tuesday night at Attica, but chose to sit out to mend in time for Friday’s USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget Series event, where he entered the night second in points.
“First off, thank you for the prayers and well wishes after the crash at Valley Speedway; it has meant a lot to me and (to) my family,” Kofoid wrote on social media. “I would also like to thank the safety crew, my KKM team, and family friends for taking care of me after the wreck. Unfortunately, it was best that I sit out the Brad Doty Classic in Attica and continue to heal. I hope to see everyone soon at the track.
“It was best that I sit out and rest this week. I look forward to getting back to Ohio to run the 11n soon.”
Stephanie Linder, the wife of Kofoid’s chief sprint car mechanic Mike Linder, spoke with SPEED SPORT contributor Todd Ridgeway at the Doty on Tuesday and provided additional insight into the Valley crash.
“It appeared something may have broken on the car (Sunday night), and Buddy took a pretty hard hit,” said Stephanie Linder. “He got evaluated when he got back to Indiana, and it was decided and recommended he should set out the Doty race to heal. He will definitely be back in the (No.) 11n sprint car this year; it just depends on his midget racing schedule, because obviously the midget is his priority. But we do already have some more sprint car races scheduled for Buddy this season as well.”
Friday night at Jefferson County, Kofoid raced forward from eighth on the grid to second, then hounded Windom for the second half of the race, including a relentless battle during the final four laps that saw Kofoid briefly slide to the lead in turn two with two laps to go before Windom grabbed the lead for good at the other end of the track.
It was the kind of gritty performance that left the fans in attendance cheering wildly at the checkered flag, though, Kofoid still wanted that last little bit more.
“We’ve come so close lately (with USAC),” Kofoid noted. “This one was frustrating, because we hot-lapped so well and then we qualified really poorly. It made for an up and down day. We were fast in the heat race, and Jarrett (Martin) and the boys got to working on the car and in those first few laps after we went green, I knew we were going to be really good.
“Hats off to Chris and Chad Boat’s whole team, because they’re doing a hell of a job right now, but, hopefully, tomorrow they’re chasing us the whole race,” Kofoid added. “It was fun racing up front, though. This was really good. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to race this weekend … so to be able to do that and contend and come home with a runner-up feels really good.”
Kofoid will have a shot to go one spot better during the second night of action at Jefferson County on Saturday, but the smile on his face was evidence enough that he was simply happy to be back in the saddle.
“This is a new car and it’s working pretty well so far,” he said. “Hopefully we can be talking as a first-time USAC winner tomorrow night, but I’m having a blast right now, that’s for sure.”