CORNELIUS, N.C.—Cannon McIntosh needed a fresh start following an unremarkable run in the 2022 Chili Bowl Nationals.
The 19-year-old from Bixby, Okla., made the most of that opportunity by posting the fastest time in hot laps and putting the No. 08 Dave Mac Motorsports Toyota on the pole for the Winter Dirt Games XIII at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. on Friday night.
Justin Grant won the 2022 USAC National Midget season-opener, while McIntosh finished seventh on the 3/8-mile D-shaped dirt track—a marked improvement after missing the feature in Tulsa last month.
“The only thing you can really do is move forward after a week like that,” said McIntosh earlier this week at the Toyota Performance Center in North Carolina. “We've got a lot of new guys and hope to bring new energy into this season."
McIntosh unveiled a new partnership with Apex Tool Group on Tuesday. He’ll carry Apex’s Crescent Tools colors and Gearwrench livery on his midget for 40 races this year in both USAC and POWRi. Through the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) alliance, Crescent Tool will also support the efforts of Corey Heim in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra in the Camping World Truck Series for four races and 12 races for Jesse Love in the ARCA Menards Series with Venturini Motorsports.
“We are pleased to welcome Apex Tool Group to the TRD Family,” said Jack Irving, group manager, commercial, TRD. “Apex’s goals for growth align closely with ours and we are excited to see how this relationship flourishes in the years to come.”
Without TRD’s assistance, McIntosh doesn’t believe he would have advanced so quickly through the midget ranks. The manufacturer’s ability to create business-to-business relationships—such as the one with Apex Tools—provides the funding for young drivers to hone their skills at the grassroots level and beyond.
“Toyota builds great relationships with great companies, so that's how this partnership came about,” McIntosh said. “Obviously a really big season coming up with Crescent and Gearwrench partnership. So having them on the side of the car is going to be really awesome.”
McIntosh finished 10th in the USAC midget point standings following a 40-race run. He set track speed records in three of those events—including his lap of 12.347 at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway in November, breaking Billy Boat’s 26-year-old record.
McIntosh finished seventh in the POWRi National Midget standings with three wins—Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway, Sweet Springs (Mo.) Motorsports Complex and Charleston (Ill.) Speedway—14 top fives and 18 top 10s in 21 feature starts.
With Apex tools coming on board, McIntosh predicts 2022 will be his breakout year.
“I just really want to try and go for that USAC championship this year," said the three-time USAC Midget winner. “I'm super excited to be getting back with the family team again. I think this is going to be a year where we really put our names out there and contend for a championship this year. I'm super excited to be able to represent such a cool company and just be doing this as a family team, still. I'm really excited for what's coming this year.”
Currently, McIntosh is expected to compete full-time in USAC’s midget division as well as the new Xtreme Outlaw Series. In his free time, he hopes to run select POWRi events and dabble in sprint cars.
“I want to maximize my schedule this year and get my feet wet in some new things,” McIntosh said. "Having Toyota behind me, anything is possible. I'm just going to keep working and doing my part on the midget side, just perform the best I can and let the rest play out.
"I'm here for the long run, so whatever they want to put me in, I'm in for."