Jade Avedisian crossed the finish line a second ahead of her opponents. Animated fist pumps soon followed.
At only 15 years old, she’d made history. National history. With her car parked in Victory Lane in front of a packed Jacksonville Speedway grandstand, and a shower of confetti around her, Avedisian became the first female to take the checkered flag in a national-level Feature event, winning with the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota.
Over one year later, she can still recall her jubilation in the moment.
“It meant the absolute world to me,” Avedisian said. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve seen all these kids get on top of the cage and celebrate. It’s always been a dream of mine to get on top of the cage and celebrate as a Midget winner.”
The Series returns to the 1/4-mile oval in Western Illinois for the first time since that evening on Friday, Sept. 15, in the first of a three-day stretch of racing that also includes visits to Highland Speedway on Saturday (Sept. 16) and Red Hill Raceway on Sunday (Sept. 17).
Avedisian, the 17-year-old Californian now residing in Mooresville, NC, has seen and won at several other bullring-style tracks this year, but Jacksonville is one that’s been circled on her calendar since the start.
“I’m super excited to get back to Jacksonville,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite tracks and it will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Looking back, she said it’s still a surprise that she was able to pull off the win that night, considering the three-straight DNFs she suffered that week.
“To pick that week as a bad week and then end it on such a high note on Saturday night was truly just the best feeling,” she said.
The win at Jacksonville, which was co-sanctioned by the Xtreme Outlaw Series, fell on the fifth night of the POWRi National Midget League’s annual Illinois SPEEDWeek event. After a 12th-place run in the opener at Charleston Speedway, Avedisian did not finish the main event in any of the next three nights due to on-track incidents, forcing her to go to a backup car later in the week.
After a third-straight DNF at Macon on Saturday, she drove the backup Spike/Toyota #84 for Chad Boat Industries in for the finale in Jacksonville and turned her fortune around in dramatic fashion, fending off the field for all 30 circuits to secure the win.
“I think I just wanted it so, so bad,” Avedisian said. “At the beginning of the week, we flipped almost every single night. Just realizing that, and kind of backing myself down for Saturday night… going out there and clearing my mind from the past week because it wasn’t a good week, and just retrying on Sunday night.”
This time around, she’ll make the trek back to site of that historic moment for the first time with her new team at Keith Kunz Motorsports, aiming for another win to kick off a crucial stretch of races that will set the scene before championship weekend in Oklahoma next month.
“It’s going to be up to me to make sure I put myself not in bad situations on the racetrack,” Avedisian said. “Thirty laps in the Feature may not seem like a long time, but 30 laps – I feel like it is.”
Seven points is all that separates her from the Series points lead. With six races to go and several opponents within striking distance in the points standings around her, any of the top-five drivers can make a run for the championship.
“I feel pretty confident going back there, just because I’ve won there before,” Avedisian said. “I’m gonna go in there with my best foot forward and be super smart.”
Tickets for each of the remaining races on the 2023 Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series schedule can be purchased at the gate on race day. If you can’t make it to your favorite track, stream all the action live on DIRTVision.