Despite it only being his first year racing at US 30 Speedway, Cody Thompson is already setting himself apart from the rest of the pack.
Through four races, the Sioux City, Iowa native leads the SportMod division at US 30 with 118 points. The very first time Thompson raced at US 30 he came away with the victory.
Tyler Nerud is in second place in the division with 111 points.
At just 23, Thompson is already a veteran of the sport. He started racing motocross at the age of 5, and by the time he was 7, had already started racing go-karts.
At the age of 12, Thompson started racing sport compacts before switching over to Sport Mods in 2016.
"My dad use to race when he was younger. When he started to have some kids - me, my brother and sister, he decided it was time to stop racing and grow the family up and get us into racing. Me and my brother started racing. Later my brother (Trent Thompson) decided he just wanted to work on the race car so he helps me out a ton."
While Thompson's home track is Park Jefferson Speedway in North Sioux City, South Dakota; Thompson decided to add US 30 Speedway to his weekly schedule when a fellow competitor asked.
"Anthony Roth asked me to come down and race with him and hang out with Travis (Roth) and Trent (Roth) and I decided that I ain't got nothing better to do and I have Friday off, so I decided to head down that way. It was perfect timing," Thompson said.
The decision to come down to Columbus on Thursday nights is paying off.
In the four races thus far, Thompson has won three and finished in third.
Thompson said he knew going to a new track would pose a set of difficulties, but believed his knowledge of cars would enable him to compete anywhere.
"I knew the local guys would have a little bit of an advantage over me because I don't really race the facility that often," he said. "I race quite a bit a year, so I kind of got familiar with my race car. I think I can make the right choice for track conditions and stuff like that.
"That's what is going to help me out down there, it's a little bit different dirt than what we normally race on up here in Iowa and South Dakota. It's more of a sandier component down there. I just had to make adjustments on the car to compensate for better traction."
Thompson mentioned that coming into the year he didn't have any specific goals besides having fun and winning a little money in the process. Now with a few wins under his belt, Thompson is setting the bar a little higher.
"I kind of changed my goals up a little bit now that things are going pretty good with the car," he said. "I have it dialed in just right for me. My goal is to win the national championships this year. In order to do that I need to win 30 races and get two track championships. I'm currently tied at Park Jefferson, my home track, and here."
Thompson is sitting in ninth place nationally with 686 points. Chase Rudolf is the leader with 1017 points.
Thompson has proven he has the ability to be nationally successful, winning in every state in which he's competed: Kansas, Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska.
He said part of his success comes from going out and finding races when things don't go according to plan. That approach has been especially helpful this year when tracks have canceled multiple races due to inclement weather.
"There's always going to be a race somewhere,” Thompson said. "You just have to venture out to it."
Thompson has done that recently. An example of his determination showed when he drove out to Vinton, Iowa, to get in a race, or recently when he decided on short notice to go race down in Britt, Iowa.
Thursday night will be another opportunity for Thompson to add to his lead and close the gap in the national race.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com