From Richie Murray - USAC Media
If at first you don’t succeed, then dust yourself off and try again.
Logan Seavey lived and breathed this particular proverb through and through during both nights of the 54th annual Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford at Arizona Speedway.
On Friday night, the Sutter, Calif. native led 25 of 30 laps before one tiny mistake cost him the victory. The following evening, Seavey vowed not to repeat his misfortune nor his ultimate fate, and instead, fully intending to capitalize on the opportunity at hand with an outside front row starting spot and a winning race car in his grasp.
Seavey led all 30 circuits of Saturday’s feature, only briefly relenting the top spot to C.J. Leary just past the halfway mark. Without a rattle, without a hesitation, Seavey calmly raced back by to capture the season finale for the USAC AMSOIL National and USAC CRA Sprint Cars.
It was Seavey’s first USAC National Sprint Car victory since running off three-straight in succession during Indiana Sprint Week in July, a Western World triumph worth $7,500 after piloting the Baldwin-Fox Racing/Fox Paving – Claxton Engines/DRC/Claxton Chevy to victory lane in the last ever USAC event to be held at the 1/3-mile dirt oval before its permanent closure later this month.
“It’s awesome,” Seavey exclaimed following his sixth career USAC National Sprint Car win, which equaled him for 75th place all-time alongside Chad Boespflug, Kevin Briscoe, Jac Haudenschild, Jason McCord, Jan Opperman, Tom Sneva, George Snider and Dick Tobias. “We led so many laps last night. I really, really love this place and I hate that it’s our last time coming here.”
The main crux of finding redemption is slaying those small landmines that are constantly thrown in the direction of team and driver and are bound to trip up individuals on occasion. Seavey attempted to thwart those aspects, but ultimately resigned to be patient and wait for the track to come to him, as opposed to the reverse, as the surface changed throughout the duration.
“Last night, I got myself too tight with the shocks under yellow, trying to over-adjust, and I almost did the same thing tonight going the wrong way, getting myself freer,” Seavey explained. “The rubber just wasn’t quite as much as I thought it was there with a few to go. Then, it finally latched up and my car got really good.
It was maybe just a little overthinking on my end, but you’ve got to do everything you can to win these races,” Seavey continued. “Everybody’s so good and you’ve got to be perfect. It showed last night. We had a good car, good enough to win, and I messed up and gave it away. I knew I had I had a good car, and I could win tonight. I just had to do everything I could not to give this one away.”
From the drop of the green, it was all Seavey as he sprinted to the lead from the outside of the front row, then surpassed pole sitter Austin Williams around the outside at the exit of turn four and promptly led the charge throughout the first half with C.J. Leary in tow on the high line, likewise, shooting around Williams on the top for the second position in turn four on lap two.
Seavey’s 1.1 second lead over Leary began to dwindle in traffic and was carved in half by lap 18 when fifth running Kevin Thomas Jr.’s end-of-year misfortune continued with a flat right rear tire, which brought out the caution. Thomas returned to action but wound up a disappointing 22nd.
The stoppage put the traffic situation on the shelf and delivered Leary a golden opportunity that he nearly made work. With the top line paved in rubber, making a clean pass became a challenging proposition, but Leary was game.
On the first lap of the lap 18 restart, Leary stuck right to Seavey’s rear bumper through turns one and two, and midway down the back straightaway, before diving to the bottom of turn three. However, Leary’s momentum took him up the racetrack, to the very top off turn four, freeing the lane for Seavey to cross over back underneath and reclaim the lead.
“I knew my car was good up top,” Seavey claimed. “Racing here in the past and knowing how clean the top got, I knew the rubber was coming. I got to lapped traffic and felt it coming, then a yellow came out and I freed myself way up for the rubber and I did it too early and about gave it away. C.J. got a huge run and about went by us. Luckily, I was able to hold on just long enough for the rubber to come.”
With Leary’s shot fired, Seavey was safe and sound for the final 13 laps as he contested the high line unchallenged the rest of the way, raising the interval to a whopping 3.127 seconds as he raced under the checkered flag with C.J. Leary second, Jake Swanson third, Thomas Meseraull fourth and newly crowned 2021 USAC National Sprint Car champion Brady Bacon rounding out the top-five.
Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) completed his season with a flurry of successful outings, finishing inside the top-five in each of his last five starts aboard his Michael Motorsports/Kodiak Products – Gray Auto – Valvoline/DRC/Cressman Ford.
Swanson’s daring turn one pass of Meseraull for the third position with 10 laps remaining put the Anaheim, California driver on the podium for the seventh time with the USAC National Sprint Cars this year in his Team AZ Racing/Beaver Stripes – USW Cat Construction – RSS Industries – CSI/DRC/1-Way Chevy.
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) clinched his fourth career USAC National Sprint Car driving championship on Friday night at Western World, but was officially crowned following Saturday night’s finale, placing him as the third member of an exclusive club of drivers who’ve won at least four titles with the series: Levi Jones (2005-07-09-10-11) and Steve Butler (1986-87-88-90).
Furthermore, Bacon became the first back-to-back USAC National Sprint Car driving champion since Bryan Clauson in 2012-13. Meanwhile, the Dynamics, Inc. No. 69 for Bacon earned its unprecedented 13th series entrant title after previously being crowned in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2014, 2016 and 2020.
Damion Gardner (Concord, Calif.) racked up an awe-inspiring eighth consecutive AMSOIL USAC CRA Sprint Car driving championship, and ninth overall, this year while also providing entrant Mark Alexander and car No. 1 its eighth-straight series entrant title, and ninth overall. The Gardner and Alexander partnership has garnered previous series titles in 2013-14-15-16-17-18-19. No 2020 champion was crowned. Gardner first earned a USAC CRA driving championship in 2005 while Alexander first did so in the entrant category during the 2007 campaign.
1. Logan Seavey (2), 2. C.J. Leary (4), 3. Jake Swanson (5), 4. Thomas Meseraull (8), 5. Brady Bacon (15), 6. Justin Grant (7), 7. Tanner Thorson (6), 8. Chris Windom (11), 9. Shane Cottle (9), 10. Austin Williams (1), 11. Jake Helsel (14), 12. Brody Roa (16), 13. Stevie Sussex (20), 14. Tye Mihocko (12), 15. Sterling Cling (10), 16. Damion Gardner (18), 17. R.J. Johnson (17), 18. Charles Davis Jr. (19), 19. Cody Williams (23-P), 20. Alex Banales (22), 21. Eddie Tafoya Jr. (13), 22. Kevin Thomas Jr. (3), 23. Austin Grabowski (24-P), 24. Tommy Malcolm (21).
See the full recap by Richie Murray: