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WHAT TO WATCH FOR: 2023 Season Opens with Star-Studded Field at Southern Illinois Center

The wait is over. The Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is back for its sophomore season Friday-Saturday, March 10-11, beginning with its indoor debut at the Southern Illinois Center.

Five months after a successful inaugural season, the Series embarks on its first full-length national schedule, featuring 35 races at 25 different tracks across the nation. It all begins with the two-day Xtreme Outlaw Midget Showdown inside the Southern Illinois Center – a temporary, indoor, 1/6-mile oval dirt track located on the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds.

Both Friday and Saturday programs will be conducted nearly identically, with Group Qualifying and Heat Races (both with passing points), Last Chance Showdowns and a Feature. Friday’s 30-lap Feature is $4,000-to-win, while Saturday’s 40-lap Feature will pay $5,000 to the winner.

Eight drivers have already announced their commitments to the full schedule. Zach Daum, Chase McDermand, Kyle Jones, Jade Avedisian, Gavin Miller, Ethan Mitchell, Cannon McIntosh and Hayden Reinbold make up the early full-time driver roster, each chasing a share of the all-new $80,000 points fund. A $25,000 check is set to be awarded to the Series champion at season’s end, while the rest of the top-10 in points will collect a check for their season-long efforts as well.

Tickets for this weekend’s events in Du Quoin will be available at the door on race day – $25 for General Admission; kids 12-and-under are free. Friday Hot Laps set for 5:30pm; Saturday Hot Laps at 5pm. If you can’t be there in person, DIRTVision has live coverage throughout the weekend and at all 35 Series events in 2023.

Here are the drivers to watch and storylines to follow this weekend:

THE KING AND HIS CAR – Inaugural Series champion Zach Daum begins his title defense this weekend, five months after clinching his fourth national Midget points championship.

Daum, the 31-year-old open-wheel veteran, will represent his home state of Illinois and begin his new journey with his self-owned team and self-built race car. He’s partnered with New Zealand fabricator Justin Insley to bring the Chili Bowl Nationals-winning brand King Chassis to the States, building them in his Greenville, IL-based 5d Speed Shop.

Daum in Xtreme Outlaw action last year at Jacksonville Speedway (Jacy Norgaard Photo)

After going winless through the first seven Xtreme Outlaw races last year, Daum broke through to Victory Lane at Port City Raceway in October, taking the lead just past the halfway point to bag his first Series victory. He comes into Du Quoin among the most experienced drivers at the track in the projected field, with several Feature starts in the building, multiple top 10s and a best finish of fourth in the 2019 Shamrock Classic.

WHAT A DAY FOR A DEBUT – Keith Kunz Motorsports’ newest racing sensation is here, and she’s ready to chase a championship.

Sixteen-year-old Jade Avedisian, of Clovis, CA, makes her KKM debut this weekend behind the wheel of the Mobil-1, Spike/Toyota #71. She made Midget history driving for Chad Boat Industries last year, becoming the first female to take the checkered flag in a national Midget Feature and then the Series’ winningest driver. Along with her first Series win at Jacksonville Speedway, she also won the season finale at I-44 Riverside Speedway.

She’s since partnered with KKM to take on the entire Xtreme Outlaw schedule in pursuit of her first national championship, which begins with her first-ever appearance at Southern Illinois Center. Though largely unfamiliar with the venue, her indoor racing resume is already star-studded, having captured a Restricted A-Class trophy at the 2020 Tulsa Shootout and a spot in the A-Main as a rookie at the Chili Bowl Nationals in January.

MAC ON THE ATTACK – When it comes to indoor Midget races, Cannon McIntosh is always one driver to keep an eye on.

McIntosh, 20, of Bixby, OK, is one of the more accomplished drivers in the Center with three podium finishes since 2019, including a Feature win in the 2019 Shamrock Classic, a runner-up at the 2020 Jason Leffler Memorial, and a third-place finish in last year’s Shamrock Classic Prelim Feature.

He’s also coming off his third career Chili Bowl Nationals prelim night victory and an A-Main podium in January, making him one of the winningest and highest-finishing indoor Midget racers over the last five seasons.

He’ll also be chasing the 2023 Xtreme Outlaw title with Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports.

CENTER OF ATTENTION – No other driver in the last three years has won more Features at the Center than local standout Daniel Robinson.

Robinson placed third in the Bill Ecker #57 at the Center last March. (Josh James Artwork)

Robinson, of Benton, IL, has amassed 14 Feature wins in the building since the 2021 season began, driving a variety of different car types to Victory Lane. He cleaned house last year, winning seven times in six different classes, and topped it all off with a Midget victory in the Junior Knepper 55 in December.

Last weekend, he picked up Feature wins in both the Winged and Non-Wing divisions of A-Class Micro Sprints as part of the Midwest Winter Nationals. He’ll pilot a Bill Ecker-owned #57 to race with the Xtreme Outlaws Friday and Saturday – the same car he drove to victory in December.

T-MEZ IN THE BUILDING – A winner with the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Car Series last year, Thomas Meseraull makes his Xtreme Midget debut with RMS Racing this weekend.

Meseraull, the 42-year-old open-wheel veteran from San Jose, CA, has won twice at the Center in his career – first breaking through to Victory Lane in the 2018 Junior Knepper 55, and again one year ago in the Shamrock Classic Prelim Feature.

Meseraull in-action at DuQuoin last March (Josh James Artwork)

Recently, Meseraull’s been keeping his Midget skills sharp while racing in Sydney, NSW, in the Australian Speedcar Championship at Eastern Creek Speedway. He bagged two podium finishes in the two-day event last weekend and is headed back States-side for Xtreme Outlaw competition Friday and Saturday.