Fourteen-year-old Buddy Kofoid, who dreams of following another Northern California racing prodigy into the NASCAR Sprint Cup ranks, took a big step along that journey by winning the Friday night feature sprint car race in the 23rd annual Trophy Cup at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.
The driver from Penngrove in Sonoma County has raced all over Northern California this year, but Friday’s win was easily the biggest of his career – so far. He figures to be on a rising arc much like Kyle Larson, the Elk Grove 24-year-old who’s already in his third Sprint Cup season and won the 2013 Trophy Cup in his last big hurrah as a sprint car driver.
Friday’s win stamps Kofoid as one of the drivers to watch Saturday night when the Trophy Cup concludes with a full night of racing including a 50-lap main event on the third-mile clay oval. The unique Trophy Cup format crowns a champion based on points earned whenever a driver is on the track, including passing points, meaning Saturday night’s feature race winner might not take home the guaranteed $20,000 champion’s payday.
Drivers take their best preliminary night’s performance forward to Saturday’s racing, which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Jason Meyers of Clovis won the Thursday night feature while Kyle Hirst of Paradise was the leading points earner Thursday night followed by Chico’s Jonathan Allard, Meyers’ Tarlton Racing teammate. Friday night, Allard scratched from the main event with motor problems.
Kofoid started on the pole for Friday’s 30-lap feature but was outgunned at the start by World of Outlaws veteran Terry McCarl of Iowa.
“When Terry passed me I decided to hold my line,” Kofoid said on the victory podium.
McCarl paced the field until he spun on lap 24, handing the lead to Kofoid, who withstood two restarts after race stoppages to easily beat another Outlaws veteran, Jason Solwold of Washington, and Sean Becker of Roseville.
Meyers was fifth, Kingsburg’s Cory Eliason seventh, Bud Kaeding of Campbell in the Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports car ninth, and Fresno-based Roth Motorsports teammates Tim Kaeding and Hirst 10th and 11th, respectively. Other central San Joaquin Valley finishers in the feature: DJ Netto of Hanford 12th, Steven Tiner of Visalia 13th, Jace Vanderweerd of Visalia 16th, Giovanni Scelzi of Fresno 17th, Blake Robertson of Visalia 19th and Scott Parker of Coarsegold 21st.