Newmanstown, Pennsylvania (August 3, 2019)………In Logan Seavey’s last visit to Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway, he was the star of the show, putting four wheels on the fence to escape unscathed around a stopped car.
The viral video, the Sports Center top play, the T-shirts and all the notoriety followed. However, the Sutter, Calif. native still had a score to settle. Overshadowed by the fence climb was the fact that he finished third. Seavey was cool with all the accolades, but more than that, the defending USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Champion just wants to win.
And he did just exactly that on Saturday night in the Pennsylvania Midget Week finale at Lanco, with all four wheels firmly planted on the 1/8-mile dirt bullring’s victory lane.
“It’s pretty cool what happened last year,” Seavey reminisced. “I got a lot of publicity and sold a lot of T-shirts this year. That’s pretty cool because it’s going to Grady (Chandler) and his family. But yeah, I’d much rather be in victory lane than third like last year. It’s just a good way to end the week. We’ve struggled the first four nights, but I knew coming here, our cars would be really good. It’s the kind of track our car excels at. I knew this is the racetrack I’d get around well. I knew if there was a place this week, we were going to be good, it was here. I just had to do my job and put together 40 laps.”
Seavey began his race from the third spot and engaged in a slider session with leading series Rookie Andrew Layser for second in the early going. Seavey slid past Layser in turn one on lap four, but Layser cut back under to return the favor to Seavey entering turn three. Seavey finally made the move stick on lap five in the first turn to slot into second while Chad Boat held a healthy full-straightaway three second lead over Seavey and point leader Courtney, who drifted into third past Layser.
Two-time ARDC Midget champ Steven Drevicki came to a stop in turn four on the fifth lap to bring out the first yellow of the night, erasing Boat’s substantial advantage. With Seavey right on his tail tank, Boat was immediately put to the test. Seavey slid his way to the front multiple times, but Boat was able to fend him off for the time being. That is, until lap nine, when Seavey finally slid and stuck the position ahead of Boat for the race lead.
Wednesday's Action Track USA and Friday's Linda's Speedway winner Zeb Wise slowed to a stop on the 11th lap while running fifth, putting an end to his bid to pick up a third Pennsylvania Midget Week victory in the past four nights.
Seavey ringed the top side as Courtney put on the chase. On the 14th lap, Seavey stumbled ever so slightly on the turn four cushion, allowing Courtney to close in and open up the door for a turn one slider, but with his attention piqued, Seavey was prepared and drove back downhill off turn two to resume his place atop the leaderboard.
A yellow on lap 25 fell following Kevin Thomas, Jr.’s version of a fence ride between turns three and four which flattened his right rear while running third. After a stop for new rubber, Thomas drove his way back to a solid fourth-place finish.
On the restart, Courtney was ready to pounce at any inkling of a mistake by Seavey. On a small track in which a single lap clicks off just a shy over ten seconds, there’s not much of a place where a driver can sustain one little bobble here or a jumped cushion there, which can make all the difference. Courtney hung close to Seavey when racing resumed but snagged the cushion twice with ten and nine laps to go, turning what once was a couple car lengths into a two second disadvantage.
“I knew, especially the first few laps after restarts, I had to not make any mistakes,” Seavey said. “I felt like once I got a few clean laps in, I felt good enough to where I could distance myself a little. As a racer, you kind of know when you’re making good laps and when you’re not. I know when our cars are good and I’m making good laps, it’s going to be really hard to be better than that.”
Twelfth-running Steve Craig took a hard tumble in turn one on the 33rd lap to bring out the red and the final stop of the evening. Craig climbed from the wreckage under his own power.
Seavey led the path up top with Courtney in his shadow on the resumption with seven laps remaining. Any slight misstep by Seavey would result in Courtney gaining the upper hand, and that moment nearly arrived with five to go.
“I got tight in the center with four to go in one and two,” Seavey recalled. “I got in too low and slid up to the cushion. Anytime you slide up to it like that, you’re going to get tight. It’s just one of those deals where the easier you try to run and try to pace yourself to not make a mistake, the more mistakes you’re going to make.”
Courtney raced to the inside of Seavey entering turn three and the two went toe-to-toe through the corner, with Seavey bouncing his right rear tire off the outside turn four guardrail and surging back ahead at the exit of four, gaining enough steam through turns one and two to lead by five car lengths by the time the top-two hit the back straight with the laps dwindling. This gave Seavey at no point a chance to just ride it out. Instead, he put himself in the mindset of a driver doing the chasing instead of being chased.
“I committed to running as hard as I could and acted like there was somebody ahead of me that I had to run down,” Seavey explained. “That’s normally when I’m at my best, when I’m running as hard as I can. Everybody on the USAC tour is so fast, you have to be at 100 percent every lap or they’re going to eat you up.”
After nearly seeing the win slip away, Seavey nailed down his third victory of the year by 0.785 sec. over Courtney, KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Jason McDougal (from 12th), Thomas and Jerry Coons, Jr.
Seavey’s victory was the sixth of his USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget career, tying him with Donnie Beechler, George Benson, Dana Carter, Bob Cicconi, Robby Flock, Nick Fornoro, Jr., Arnie Knepper, Ricky Shelton, Mike Streicher, Dave Strickland, Jr. and Roger West for 101st all-time.
The triumph also gave Seavey the distinction of being the only driver to claim a victory during Indiana Midget Week, Mid-America Midget Week and Pennsylvania Midget Week in 2019.
McDougal captured the victory in the six-lap Dash for Cash, which pit the top-two finishers in each heat race plus the two fastest qualifiers who finished outside the top-two in the heats. McDougal took home $300 for his win, Coons $150 for second and Chris Windom $100 for finishing third. Drevicki collected $50 courtesy of Low Down & Dirty for finishing sixth.
Contingency award winners Saturday night at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway were Zeb Wise (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Chris Windom (Simpson Race Products/Competition Suspension, Inc. First Heat Winner) and Jason McDougal (AutoMeter/Indy Race Parts Second Heat Winner, Dash for Cash Winner & KSE Racing Products Hard Charger).
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media