Cale Coons Makes Badger History at Kankakee


Badger Midget Auto Racing Association

Cale Coons Makes Badger History at Kankakee

Second generation driver, Cale Coons, made Badger Midget history on Friday night at Kankakee Speedway, as he took the checkers, becoming the venerable club's youngest feature winner at 15 years old. His win capped an interesting night at the track.

Thirty-one teams rolled into the pits for the co-sanctioned race between the Advanced Fastening Supply Badger Midget Series and the Midget Auto Racing Association. Among them were several drivers from the USAC D2 ranks including Coons. They were slated to race in Ohio, but were notified that event was rained out in time to make the tow west.

Kyle Stark led the way in qualifying, earning FIVEone Fast Time honors with a run of 14.695, .2 seconds faster than the pace he set at the same track in 2023. Coons could only muster a 15.438, putting him in the middle of the qualifying ranks.


Six states were represented in the field of 31 cars checked in and Badger Midget Series announcer, Eric Huenefeld, noted that five states were in Auto Meter Heat 1. This race was easily won by Havana, Illinois driver, Greg Ross. But, in a foretaste of the race to come, Coons, who started 3rd, had to hold off a charging Daniel Robinson for 2nd.

Simpson Race Products Heat 2, saw Dave Collins Jr. get the jump on Harrison Kleven. On lap-four, Aaron Muhle took a nasty tumble in his bright orange #24. He appeared to be alright. On the restart, 2023 BMARA Champion Adam Taylor battled Collins for the lead, eventually taking it with two to go. On the last lap, Ohio's Abby Hohlbein and Wisconsin's Parker Jones made contact vying for a transfer spot. Jones got the worst of it, tagging the turn-three wall and missing an instant ticket to the A-Main.

Michael Magic, traveling all the way from Georgia, made the trip memorable, taking Behling Racing Equipment Heat 3 over Tyler Roth and Stark.

With nearly 90 cars in the pits, over five classes, Badger had to tighten the heats and there was no Madison Extinguisher Service Last Chance Qualifier or VMS Rod Ends Heat 4.

The High Performance Lubricants B-Main Jones charged from his 8th starting spot to take the win over Mike Stroik.


Cale Coons, the son of famed Badger and USAC driver, Jerry Coons Jr., had his work cut out for him on what would be a challenging night for many drivers in the main event. It all started before the green flag flew.

Collins, who'd had an impressive battle in his heat, flipped before the field was even aligned. He was having difficulty getting the #40 started when he finally decided to give up and signaled for the push truck that he'd make the big right turn out of the second corner, into the pits. The signals got crossed and on top of that Collins had the car in gear. He had enough momentum that his hard right turn, put the car over. Collins, in his typical happy-go-lucky fashion was quick to indicate it was his fault and not of the push truck drivers doing. He said the next day, with a grin, "I made an irresponsible choice compounded by another bad decision." He went on to suggest that the current magnetic storm from the sun, causing the Northern Lights across the northern hemisphere, may have had something to do with all of the misfortune on the night.

Once the feature went green, it was stopped for a five car pile up, before they got a lap in. This helped Coons, who avoided the mess, in that he would restart from the 10th spot rather than 12th.

The restart saw the Badger and MARA contingent go four-wide coming out of the second turn and they were still three-wide going into the next left hander. With one lap complete, racing stalled again, as Ross, running in 2nd, spun in turn-two. The crowd held its breath as the field dodged him. Every car got by cleanly and they were soon green again.

On the restart, Robinson had assumed the point with Patrick Bruns and Taylor behind him. As Robinson started to pull away, they went three wide again in the middle of the pack. By the fifth circuit he had a half a straightaway advantage over the rest, while running the bottom groove. The field was evenly divided behind him with half up top and half following Robinsons lead. Coons was now in 3rd.

About mid-way through the 25 lap race, Miles Doherty spun, but in the process of cars slowing down for the yellow, the 11k of Charles Kunz, appeared to tag the backstretch wall, sending him flipping. The red was out. Kunz walked away from the crash. Between the timing and position of the flip (the Victory Lane Wall blocked the view), many on the front stretch understandably had no clue, including announcer Huenefeld, why the red was now out.

Once racing resumed, Robinson was on the point with Coons in tow. Stark was one of the few on the high side now. This helped put his Red Duce now in 3rd.

With about ten to go and the field half and half on the two grooves, Coons went high to try and solve Robinson. Another yellow, with nine to go, bunched the field again. At this point, of note, Jones, who started 18th, was now in 6th, while Ross battled back from his earlier spin to be scored in 8th.

On the restart, all eyes were on Robinson and Coons. Robinsons stayed smooth on the bottom while Coons tried it high in one corner and low in another. He abandoned the low line, finally showing his hand as he got next to Robinson down the front straight. Robinson seemed to gas it a little more and surged ahead. In turn-three Robinson slid up in front of Coons, barley stalling the teenager's momentum. The pair amassed a ten-length lead on the 3rd place car of RJ Corson, before the smooth sailing of Coons on the cushion was too much for Robinson who maintained his low line. Coons nipped him for the historic win.

After the race, Coons was quick to compliment the track prep noting, "The track was really good. You could run the top or bottom. I don't think I ever let off. It's special to win with Badger and especially in the #63 that my dad drove." He went on to thank Joe Dooling, his car owner, and primary sponsor of Curb-Agajanian.

Coons now holds the record as the youngest feature winner in Badger MIdget Series history, but he'll also go into the books as another son/father combination to both score wins in Badger.

Jerry Coons Jr. was proud of his son and the accomplishment. Of the run he noted, "I wasn't sure going to the top was the right choice, but the kid was right. He hit his marks every time and ran about a perfect race and got by some crashes."

Of the engine package the D2 cars bring, Coons confirmed, "We are down 100 horsepower to the rear axles, compared to the Badger cars. We needed the track to slick off and it did."

Robinson had nothing but good things to say about the younger Coons. They've raced each other in micros before and both echoed a respect for the other. "He's a good kid. I didn't want him to win, but he's a good kid," said Robinson with a laugh.


Lost in the battle up front was RJ Corson's career best finish of 3rd in the A-Main, sponsored by Lyco Manufacturing, Inc. He was grinning ear to ear when he got out of his car. "It's the most fun I've ever had," he declared.

Checking in with Aaron Muhle, two days after his flip, he reports he's a bit sore, but neither he or the car are too worse for wear and they'll be ready for next weekends opener at Angell Park Speedway.

Charles Kunz advised that he is also alright after his flip. The downtube was crushed on the car and by Sunday he had it almost all stripped down. Regarding the wreck, he said the yellow light wasn't even out and a car in front of him had come to nearly a complete stop. He maneuvered to miss it, tagged the wall and went over. To that point in the race he had a great run going, coming from the back of the field, where he made the feature as an alternate, to running in about 7th at the time of the crash. He will be ready for Friday's MARA race Lincoln Speedway.

In 2019 at 17 years old, Jack Rouston was the previous record holder for the youngest feature winner in Badger history.

Cale Coons was the Bob Tattersall Hard Charger, gaining 11 spots. He was also the first of two, first-time winners in Badger, on the weekend.

Just ten cars finished the A-Main.

Stark captured the Schoenfeld Headers Invert Draw award.

The Addison Dahlke Last Place Bonus went to Nick Kilian.

There were no BMARA rookies at the event, so the Spankins Motorsports Rookie of the Race award went unclaimed and at press time the Hammers Auto Service Shop/Midwest Engine Service Inc. Hard Luck Award information was not available.

Robinson was not in his normal RAB #57 car, but rather the bright blue and gold #6 of Mike Raymond.

The next day, Badger and MARA were at it again, this time at Sycamore Speedway to round out the doubleheader weekend. Look for that race report tomorrow.

The Badger Midget Series is back in action, next Sunday, May 19, at Angell Park Speedway for the Dahlke Memorial. Much more will be reported on that as the week progresses.

Article Credit: Bill Blumer Jr. (Badger media)
Photo Credits: Roy Ophime

Submitted By: William Blumer

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