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TRACK TALK: McIntosh, Daum, Reimer, Miller Share Pre-Appalachian Midget Week Insight

For the first time in two years, national dirt Midget racing is coming back to the Northeast with the inaugural Appalachian Midget Week, featuring the stars of the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota.

Five-straight days of racing – Tuesday-Saturday, Aug. 8-12 – at five tracks across Pennsylvania and New Jersey will have some of the best rising open-wheel talents in the country battling for a $4,000 grand prize each night and their share of a $5,250 points fund, paying $2,500 to the champion, $1,250 for second, $750 for third, $500 for fourth and $250 for fifth in the miniseries standings.

Appalachian Midget Week Schedule
Tuesday, August 8 – Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway (Newmanstown, PA)
Wednesday, August 9 – Action Track USA (Kutztown, PA)
Thursday, August 10 – Linda’s Speedway (Jonestown, PA)
Friday, August 11 – Path Valley Speedway (Spring Run, PA)
Saturday, August 12 – Bridgeport Motorsports Park (Swedesboro, NJ)

The last time a national Midget series made a trip up the Eastern Seaboard was in 2021, when the USAC National Midget Series held its seventh installment of Pennsylvania Midget Week. Several present-day Xtreme Outlaw Series championship chasers took part in the swing at one or multiple points in that span, racing at many of the same stops that now exist on the Appalachian Midget Week schedule.

  • Cannon McIntosh (Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports #08) – The 20-year-old Xtreme Outlaw Series points leader from Bixby, OK, contested shows with the USAC swing through PA in 2020 and 2021, once with his former team at Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) and the other with his family-run team at Dave Mac-Dalby.
  • Zach Daum (Trifecta Motorsports #7U) – A veteran of the open-wheel racing world, Daum, 32, of Pocahontas, IL, made three starts on the USAC swing in 2021, and has prior experience racing in other open-wheel divisions at a few of the tracks on the schedule.
  • Taylor Reimer (Keith Kunz Motorsports #25K) – The 23-year-old from Tulsa, OK, competed in all five races with USAC in 2021, collecting two top-10 finishes over the five-day stretch. Now a multi-year veteran with KKM, Reimer is headed back to PA/NJ with much more experience and familiarity under her belt.
  • Gavin Miller (Keith Kunz Motorsports #97) – Though Miller is only in his first full-time Midget season with KKM, he’s had plenty of laps in a Micro Sprint around four of the five tracks on the 2023 Appalachian Midget Week slate. The 16-year-old rookie is the lone driver on the Xtreme Outlaw Series from Pennsylvania (Allentown), giving him a slight advantage over others with his prior experience at the venues.

Each offered their perspectives on their prior racing experience at the PA-NJ tracks ahead of the start of Appalachian Midget Week, airing live all week on DIRTVision.

How do you mentally prepare to take on a five-day stretch of racing?

McIntosh: You always know it’s a grueling challenge every year; any Midget week. I’ve had quite a bit of experience now doing Midget week. This’ll be my third Midget week in Pennsylvania. Feels like it’s been a while; it’s been a couple years. It’s nice that Xtreme is getting us back out there. I feel like all five of those racetracks are really good, especially those first two. I’m looking forward to it.

Daum: It’s just the little things, like making sure you’re eating good. Making sure you’re staying hydrated – that’s the biggest thing people don’t realize. That’s a lot of mental focus you lose if you’re not properly hydrated; you don’t feel good. It’s easy to get sick out on the road when you’re eating truck stop food. You’re eating crap, basically. Having sure you have some decent meals you can eat, making sure you drink plenty of water and try to get as decent amount of sleep as you can – that’s the biggest thing I try to do to prepare for that stuff.

Reimer has one career Series victory – last May at Millbridge Speedway. (Tyler Carr Photo)

Reimer: Honestly, I feel like we race them all the time, so after a while, you get used to it. I feel like it used to be more where we’d race two times in a weekend, but now we have these stretches where we race four-to-five times. I think it helps building momentum throughout the week. If we have a couple good runs, I think it makes it a little bit easier to go into a week where we’re racing a lot more.

How do you expect to perform?

McIntosh: I think we’ll be really good. I ran USAC’s Midget week there a couple times. Now with Xtreme going there, we’ll be just fine. Robert [Dalby, crew chief] got to do it once with me, and the other time was with Keith [Kunz]. Either way, I feel like I have decent laps there. I think those are my style tracks; a couple of them are bullrings and the other couple are just good racetracks.

Daum: Hopefully, we can just carry in the momentum we’ve got already. We’ve been really good here lately. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re not trying to change too much, we’re just trying to keep rolling. We’ve got a good package, so as long as we can keep rolling and continue on that trend, I think we’re gonna be okay.

It’s not often national Midget racing comes to the Northeast. What are your thoughts on expanding into that region of the country?

McIntosh: I think it’s good for the sport. Obviously, there’s some good tracks out there and they race Midgets really well, so it’s kinda surprising we don’t race there more often. It’s good that Xtreme’s getting us back on the schedule out there because I think the fans want to see it. I feel like when we are there, there’s tons of fans that show up because they want to see Midget racing. Everyone tunes into Chili Bowl every year, so for them to be able to see Midgets come into Pennsylvania and their hometown is cool for them to see.

Daum: It’s just a lot of fun. You get to go out there and see different racetracks. I’ve been kinda hounding these guys about going down in the south and racing. There’s a lot of tracks in the south that could have really good Midget races. When you stay complacent and just keep racing in three or four states that are right in the Midwest, you don’t get to see these hidden gems that are what make racing so great. Going to new racetracks is always a good thing – it broadens your horizons about what else is out there.

Miller: I think it’s pretty cool. You see people you know there – family, friends, past people you’ve seen before. I think it’s pretty cool for Xtreme Midgets to go to places like that. Hopefully, there’ll be more races there some time in the future.

Reimer: I’m really excited to go to PA. The fans there, when we went for the USAC series, they were really cool and they had a lot of people out there, so I’m excited to go back. That’s what Midget racing is all about – getting to meet people and putting on a good show for the fans.

What’s the one track you’re looking forward to racing the most?

McIntosh: I think Lanco (Clyde Martin Memorial). It’s been a couple years since I’ve been there, but from what I remember, it was a really good track. Last time I was there, I flipped pretty bad with a shock failure. I’ve raced Millbridge a lot since then and, to me, it seems pretty similar to that place, so I’m definitely excited to get back to Lanco.

McIntosh currently has five career Series victories – tired for most all-time with Jade Avedisian. (Tyler Carr Photo)

Daum: Probably Path Valley. Last time I was there, we were riding in a motorhome with a guy and we took out some dude’s front door. His house was literally right on the side of the road, he opened it, and we took his front door off. I vividly remember that trip; I remember the racetrack being really fun. It’s big enough to be a good size racetrack, but still small enough that I think it’s gonna produce really good racing.

Miller: I would say I’m looking forward to Lanco (Clyde Martin Memorial) the most. I raced on that track all the time; it was pretty fun. On the last night of [USAC PA Midget Week], I raced that two years ago. It was pretty fun in a Micro.

Reimer: I think Lanco (Clyde Martin Memorial). That track’s really fun. It kinda reminds me of like a small bullring, sorta like Millbridge or Port City. I remember it was really fun last year. We had some hard luck on our side in the Heat Race and then got unlucky in the Feature. I’m looking to going back there and hopefully getting a good finish.

These races kick off the second half of the season. How crucial will these races be to your late-season championship push?

McIntosh: They’re a big deal. If we can put ourselves in the top five every night, that’s all we need to do. Guys can close on you just a little bit if you run fifth every night and they run second or third maybe. But if you’re fifth every night, that consistency will show in the end. If we can get a couple wins while we’re out there and stay in the top five the whole swing, I think we’ll be okay.

Daum: We can’t afford to fall out of any races – that’s our biggest thing right now. [The Trifecta Motorsports team] – they’ve been OK; they haven’t fallen out of too many races on the owner’s [points] side of things. [On the] driver’s side, we had some issues earlier in the year and couldn’t capitalize on some of what we should’ve been able to capitalize on. Now, we just can’t afford to fall out of any races.

Miller: It’ll definitely be critical if we can pull off a bunch of good finishes there. It’ll definitely help my points a lot. That’s something you’ve got to worry about at the end of the season. The last handful of races, we’re not there yet, so I’m not trying to think about it right now and just race my race, stay focused and not let that interfere with my driving.