It takes every bit of heart, skill and speed to master Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 against some of the best national Midget racers in the country. Karter Sarff showed he had each of those qualities Friday night as he, for the first time in his career, triumphed over the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota.
Sarff, 20, of Mason City, IL, took the lead from multi-time POWRi National Midget League champion Zach Daum in the early going and led the rest of the way to collect the $4,000 grand prize in the Night Before the Ironman.
“It’s pretty insane,” Sarff said. “It’s starting to sink-in now that we’re in tech here. It’s pretty awesome; I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m pretty pumped.”
A run so strong, Sarff even gained a bit of respect from the first man he beat.
“He ran a good race; he ran a smart race,” Daum said. “He ran as hard as he could and still was able to keep the tires underneath him and not turn over, not bounce, not bike, not make mistakes. He ran an awesome race, you gotta give him credit.”
Sarff took the lead from polesitter Daum on Lap 7 with a pass coming out of Turn 2. He wound it up on the curb in the middle of the track and threw it into Turn 1 with force, pointed his Provisio Partners #21K to the inside of Daum coming out of Turn 2 and zoomed past the veteran racer for the top spot.
“It’s the diamond line,” Sarff said. “I was just gassing it up and ripping tearoffs. I got a good run on him and was able to clear him. Luckily, it stuck, didn’t hit any big holes and I could pull away.”
“He was just driving so much harder than I was,” Daum said. “He was entering harder; he was getting through the center better. A couple times during the race I felt I could keep pace with him, but I just couldn’t keep pace with him every lap.”
From there on out, Sarff was in command. One caution flag and a red flag period after Xavier Doney’s wild ride in Turn 3 forced Sarff to survive two restarts with Series regulars Daum, Taylor Reimer and Jade Avedisian right on his tail. Still, the young Illinoisan held strong and at no point let his opponents get a chance to take away what is now the biggest win of his Midget racing career.
“I’m just glad I got it done with every single car here; [they’re] the best in the world,” Sarff said. “We beat ‘em all tonight and it just shows what our team can do.”
Daum, of Pocahontas, IL, was able to hang onto second for his seventh top-five finish in the last seven Series races. He said being smart about navigating the hammer-down track was the key to staying where he was in the final laps.
“I just tried to play it smart, not make any mistakes,” Daum. “I was just trying not to put myself in a position to bounce or get hit, or whatever.”
Daum did, briefly, lose the second spot in the closing laps to Avedisian but was able to get back by her in the next set of corners to retain second. In doing so, he found the bottom lane was a bit better than he originally anticipated but was too far into the race to make a significant push on the leader.
“I could’ve moved down to the bottom sooner than I did in Turns 3-4,” Daum said. “I kinda found the bottom, but it was too little, too late. I was just so scared to move, leading early and then running second. Just didn’t want to move and then get freight-trained.”
Avedisian crossed the stripe third to complete the podium after starting seventh. With her strong finish, the 16-year-old Californian now trails by only 24 points in the Series standings after points leader Cannon McIntosh’s eighth-place result.
The Xtreme Outlaw and POWRi National Midgets wrap-up the Ironman 55 weekend alongside the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars on Saturday, Aug. 5, with a $5,000-to-win main event.
Tickets will be available at the gate. If you can’t be there, stream every lap live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature (25 Laps): 1. 21K-Karter Sarff; 2. 7U-Zach Daum; 3. 71-Jade Avedisian; 4. 31-Chase Johnson; 5. 25K-Taylor Reimer; 6. 97K-Cooper Williams; 7. 26-Chance Crum; 8. 08-Cannon McIntosh; 9. 40-Chase McDermand; 10. 97-Gavin Miller; 11. 44-Branigan Roark; 12. 19AZ-Hayden Reinbold; 13. 71E-Mariah Ede; 14. 9-Xavier Doney; 15. 26R-Corbin Rueschenberg; 16. 56-Mitchell Davis; 17. 77W-Joe Wirth; 18. 31K-Jaxton Wiggs