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‘Girl on Fire’ Avedisian Hopes To Blaze Path to BC39 Victory Lane

Tuesday, September 26, 2023 Curt Cavin, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Jade Avedisian

California native Jade Avedisian, who just turned 17, has been one of the best-finishing drivers in USAC’s NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship over the past two months.

Amid a hot streak of national midget race victories, Jade Avedisian has been described as “the Girl on Fire.” But the driver who recently turned 17 is equally proud of her consistency.

Yes, the native of California’s Central Valley has won five national midget races this year and seven over the past two years – proof of her single-night prowess. But she also leads the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series season standings and has been one of the best-finishing drivers in USAC’s NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship over the past two months.

The combination of performances has Avedisian (pronounced a-vuh-DISS-ian) positioned as a driver to watch in this week’s Driven2SaveLives BC39 at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a four-night event that begins Wednesday. She will drive the No. 71 of Keith Kunz Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian, and she likes her chances of challenging for the win.

“I think every weekend we go into we have a really good chance of winning so long as I do my job,” she said.

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Avedisian is one of the bright young stars of national midget racing, demonstrating the speed and consistency that earned her support from Toyota Racing. Driving for the Indiana-based team of Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby, which has fielded cars for NASCAR Cup Series stars Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell in recent years, Avedisian has been knocking on the door to become USAC’s first female national-level race winner.

Twice this month she has finished second in a USAC feature race: to Logan Seavey on Sept. 4 at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and to Chris Windom on Sept. 22 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Seavey is USAC’s NOS Energy Drink Midget Championship points leader and this year’s champion of the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while Windom is one of seven drivers in history to have won titles in all three of USAC’s national categories (Midgets, Sprint Car and Silver Crown).

Avedisian began 2023 by reaching the A-Main of the Chili Bowl, held for the 37th year. After finishing second to Windom in the B-Main, she earned Rookie of the Year honors with an 18th-place finish in the star-studded Saturday night feature. The week began with 365 entrants and 80 rookies.

In May, Avedisian finished second to Zach Daum in the USAC Midget race at the Belleville (Kansas) Short Track, and she exited the weekend with the series points lead. Earlier this month she won an Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series race at Paragon (Indiana) Speedway.

In the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series, Avedisian leads Cannon McIntosh by 11 points heading to the three-race championship weekend (Oct. 12-14 in Oklahoma). No woman has ever won a national midget series championship. Avedisian is sixth in USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, but she was fourth prior to a flip in last weekend’s race at Eldora and is just 55 points out of second place. Six events remain.

Larson thinks she has the chops to take her career as far as she wants.

“You wouldn’t look at her and talk to her and think she’s a gasser,” he recently told The Athletic. “But she hammers it.”

Avedisian and her family have done a lot this year to elevate her career. Just before the start of the outdoor season, she and her mother, Kim, moved to North Carolina so she could work closely with Toyota officials at the Toyota Performance Center, which includes physical training and simulator work. The rest of the family, including her father, Ryan, and younger sister, Kenzie, will relocate from their home in Clovis, California, this winter.

No one could have predicted Avedisian’s motorsports ascension, but maybe she was born with a chance. Ryan, who has worked as a crew member of sprint car teams, proposed to Kim at an NHRA race in Pomona, California.

“It was a (question) of what can I do to make a future happen (in racing),” Avedisian said of the family’s decision to move to North Carolina. “I feel like you have to be (there) or on the East Coast because there’s just a lot more opportunities to make it.”

Avedisian, who turned 17 two weeks ago, is one of seven women in Toyota Racing’s full-time program, one of two such drivers in the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship. The other is Keith Kunz Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian teammate Taylor Reimer, who is driving the No. 25k this week at The Dirt Track at IMS.

Also driving for KKM this week is Mariah Ede, who is piloting the No. 71e. Ede’s grandfather, Fred Ede, owned Jeff Gordon’s Silver Crown car in the early 1990s. KKM is fielding seven cars this week, including one for last year’s BC39 champion, Buddy Kofoid (No. 67k).

Avedisian is looking forward to a strong BC39. In her event debut last year, she was in position to transfer to the main event when one of her tires popped. Her goal in Thursday’s preliminary action will be to put herself in position to make a run at Saturday night’s feature race, a 39-lapper honoring the late Bryan Clauson, a three-time USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Champion who drove pavement cars for KKM.

“I think my expectations are kind of high just because of how good the team is,” Avedisian said. “If I do my job, we should be up front.”