Buddy Kofoid wins 2022 BC39 after double-digit sliders highlight the final 10 laps; Kyle Larson finishes fifth

Kofoid 2022 BC39
DB3, Inc.
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The list of winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues to grow as Michael “Buddy” Kofoid held off Cannon McIntosh through a series of wild slide jobs in the closing laps of the 2022 Drive2SaveLives BC39 on the quarter-mile dirt track. With his eighth USAC Midget win of the season, Kofoid got to kiss the bricks embedded in the track’s retaining wall for what he described as “the biggest win of my midget career.”

After taking the lead from Mitchel Moles on Lap 13, McIntosh held the top spot until Lap 30. The lead would officially change hands three times before the end with Kofoid leading the final five laps, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story. The final laps of the race featured slide jobs in nearly every turn, 10 times in a six-lap span, with the midgets bouncing off and over the cushion, and Kofoid clipping the wall on occasion.

“Some of it was intentional and some of it was on accident,” Kofoid said. “A lot of the time, it worked out. Luckily, I didn’t get bit. Hats off to Cannon. It was so fun racing with him.  It was probably one of most fun midget races I’ve ever been a part of.”

Kofoid has been hot in 2022, winning three times in the USAC Sprint series and seven times previously in Midgets. He scored his first World of Outlaws Sprint Car win this June at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D. in his 16th start with them.

But the wins don’t get much bigger than the 2022 BC39 as Kofoid bested a field of more than 85 entries that included former winners Kyle Larson (2021) and Brady Bacon (2018), the best midget racers currently competing, plus NASCAR and IndyCar stars Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Chase Briscoe and Zach Veach.

In the tribute race to fallen racer Bryan Clauson, Kofoid decided early he would do whatever was necessary to win.

“At first, I didn’t think the track was going to widen up enough,” Kofoid said. “I was kind of stuck in fourth and fifth, so I just started ripping the fence, and if I put it upside down, I put it upside down. Luckily, that didn’t happen. It was a good points night, but also even better that we won at probably the coolest track in the world.”

With his 2022 BC39 win, Kofoid is now the fourth winner in as many editions of the race.

An infield tire marker was clipped and pushed into the groove with three laps remaining, setting up one final, dramatic restart. McIntosh threw one final slider and took the lead briefly in the closing laps, but Kofoid would not be denied and retook the lead in Turn 2 before McIntosh could officially lead that circuit.

Last year’s second-place finisher Justin Grant joined the fray to briefly make for a three-wide battle for the lead in the final two laps before Thomas Meseraull slid into third behind Kofoid and McIntosh.

Grant finished fourth, making him the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all four editions of this race – and he had to battle his way through the C and B Mains to be in a position to do so. During the night, he passed 35 cars in route to his top-five finish.

And as for the NASCAR star Larson, he had the best view in the house before finishing fifth.

The 2018 winner Bacon finished eighth while Stenhouse was 19th and Briscoe 21st.

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”