Kevin Thomas Jr. finished second as he led five Toyota-powered cars into the top six in the second half of the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget double-header at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., Saturday.
Thomas, who swept the Florida midget car double-header last season, closed out the weekend with a pair of runner-up finishes to open the USAC season.
For the second night in a row, Tucker Klaasmeyer went to the lead from the pole position with Zeb Wise, CJ Leary, Tyler Courtney, Chad Boat and Thomas rounding out the top six.
Klaasmeyer paced the way throughout the first half of the race, as Courtney moved up to second with Boat in third, Thomas in fourth, Wise in fifth and Klaasmeyer’s Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate Jesse Colwell climbing into sixth.
Klaasmeyer maintained the top spot through lap 21 of the 30-lap feature before eventually being overtaken by Courtney on lap 22, with Thomas, Boat, Leary and Colwell rounding out the top six.
A late caution then bunched the field with just three laps remaining and Thomas would take advantage of it to move into second on lap 28, with Boat slipping past Klaasmeyer for the final podium spot with one lap to go.
As they came to the checkered flag, Toyota drivers Thomas, Boat, Leary, Klaasmeyer and Colwell would place second through sixth as four different teams earned top-five finishes. Logan Seavey made it six Toyota drivers in the top 10 with an eighth-place showing.
“We’ve got good race cars,” said Thomas of his Petry Motorsports Toyotas. “We have a little more work to do when we get back home to get it to stick a little bit better. Everyone is working hard here. Last year, we won both of these races, this year we finished second in each.”
The podium finish also left Boat optimistic heading into the new season.
“We had a lot of speed in KC Drywall/Pristine Auction Toyota,” relayed the 2018 series runner-up. “We’re leaving here with a lot of confidence. We just missed it a little bit tonight. It’s going to be a really competitive series and probably going to go down to the wire like last season. We just want to go out there and win some races.”
The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series returns to action on March 9 for the Shamrock Classic indoor event at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin.