From Richie Murray / USAC Media
Rossburg, Ohio (September 24, 2022)………”I love racing Silver Crown cars and I love coming to Eldora.”
It’s certainly easy to see why for Logan Seavey as he kept his unblemished, undefeated USAC Silver Crown record at Rossburg, Ohio’s Eldora Speedway intact during Saturday night’s 40th running of the 4-Crown Nationals Presented By NKTELCO.
The Sutter, Calif. racer now stands at two starts and two victories in the event following his exceptional performance which repeated his champ car victory from a year ago at Eldora.
Seavey’s fifth career USAC Silver Crown victory put him 25th on the all-time series win list beside many of the greats of the sport, including Mario Andretti, Donnie Beechler, Pancho Carter, Jay Drake, Tony Elliott, Bud Kaeding, Sheldon Kinser and Larry Rice.
Becoming the third and final race leader just nine laps into the 50-lap race, Seavey took over and controlled the remaining 42 laps in his DiaEdge Mitsuibishi Materials – STIDA.com – Lucas Oil/DRC/Felker Chevy, which marked his third victory of the year, and his second consecutive, after winning in early September on the mile at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds and required a brand new powerplant under the hood for Eldora, which worked to absolute perfection.
“We kind of melted the engine down in Du Quoin a couple weeks ago,” Seavey explained. “A.J. Felker got us an engine and got it driving really good.”
The 50-lap distance on the half-mile dirt oval is among the shortest events of the USAC Silver Crown season, akin to a full-out sprint. The only other race of its ilk – in June at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway – Seavey also mastered the victory there.
But mainly, it’s been the dirt that Seavey has mastered as he’s become the fifth driver in series history to connect on wins in three consecutive dirt races in a single season: Mario Andretti (1974), Jack Hewitt (1986), Kody Swanson (2014) and Chris Windom (2016).
“That was 50 laps running nearly as hard as I could,” Seavey pointed out. “My spotter (and crew chief) Ronnie (Gardner) did such a good job in helping me keep my distance with C.J. (Leary) behind me. I knew he was really good, and I was running really hard. I didn’t want to have to run that hard for 50 laps, but my car was so good, and it was easy to do. Ronnie does such a good job with this thing. We won last year through the middle, then we could still go up there and hammer the wall if we have to. I knew right away my car was really good and I kind of wanted to get to the lead, set the pace and keep a gap there.”
Starting third, Seavey had to overcome a talented front row of pole sitter C.J. Leary and outside front row starter Jake Swanson. However, in what was perhaps the unlikeliest event of the Silver Crown season, fifth starting Kody Swanson and sixth starting Carmen Perigo collided on the opening lap in turn one, sending Swanson backwards into the outside retaining wall, then was clipped while spinning by the right rear tire of the oncoming Matt Westfall.
The result was a bent front axle on Swanson’s ride, which knocked him out of the race and into a 27th place result, which is the worst finishing result of his USAC Silver Crown career, which now stands at 126 career starts. The melee accrued disastrous consequences as his commanding 57-point lead entering the race dwindled to zero by race’s end with the six-time champ and Seavey knotted up atop the standings with two races remaining.
With urgency on his mind, Seavey already knew this was the time to pounce, but now he knew a victorious performance would be especially crucial to his title hopes.
“I knew if we were going to gain anything to be close, this would be the race to do it,” Seavey revealed. “We saw him crash there on the first lap, which is unfortunate, but I knew I still had to win the race and get as many points as I could, and I wasn’t holding back there. I was running hard; I slapped the fence a couple times off (turn) two, but, luckily, this thing stayed together and was just a dream to drive.”
Perigo, meanwhile, suffered a flat left rear tire. However, after making a pit stop in the Indy Metal Finishing Work Area, the tire was changed, and the Pennsylvanian charged back from the 26th spot to finish an impressive eighth, all things considered.
Jake Swanson raced to the early for the initial three circuits, but Leary wasted little time in catching and sliding by in between turns one and two on lap four to assume the lead. One lap later, Seavey dipped below Jake Swanson for second and beat him to the stripe for the position.
Seavey reeled Leary in on lap nine and executed a patented Eldora slide job to corral the lead in turns one and two. However, Leary fought back and dove under Seavey to briefly retake the lead a half lap later in turn three. However, Seavey pulled no punches and successfully crossed over Leary’s slider to beat him back to the lead by a half car length.
Tripling his lead to 1.5 sec., Seavey began to manhandle the rest of the field and even upped his lead to the tune of 2.5 sec. when he successfully parted the sea of lapped traffic and discovered some clear air and some clarity with just 20 laps to go.
The final stoppage came on the 37th lap when Kyle Robbins (15th) became entangled with another car and backed into the outside wall on the front straight at the exit of turn four, ending his night with a mashed-in rear bumper.
Seavey went uninterrupted the rest of the way despite the bunched up field with 14 laps to go and secured the victory to become the first driver since Dave Darland in 2008-09 to notch consecutive 4-Crown USAC Silver Crown victories.
Trailing Seavey to the line by a 0.836 sec. margin was Leary while Justin Grant rounded out the podium with a third-place finish after wrestling the position away from Matt Westfall with nine laps remaining. Westfall grabbed fourth while Cottle extended his top-five Silver Crown streak at Eldora to five consecutive races dating back to 2017 with a fifth-place result on Saturday night.
Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) led five laps en route to a second place finish in his Klatt Enterprises/Wilwood Disc Brakes – Lucas Oil – Brown & Miller Racing Solutions/Beast/Ford, his best Silver Crown result at Eldora since winning in 2018. It was a solid night for Leary, who also finished second in the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship main event earlier in the night.
Grant (Ione, Calif.) capped off an impressive evening at Eldora by recording his third career podium finish in USAC Silver Crown competition at the 4-Crown, scoring a third place result in his Hemelgarn Racing/NOS Energy Drink – Super Fitness – Hemelgarn Enterprises/DRC/Speedway Ford. Grant also finished second in 2016 and third in 2019 during the Silver Crown portion of the 4-Crown. He was also the only driver to finish inside the top-five in all three USAC features on Saturday night with a win in the Sprint Car, a third with Silver Crown and fourth in the midget.
FEATURE (50 laps, starting positions in parentheses, held on September 24):
1. Logan Seavey (3), 2. C.J. Leary (1), 3. Justin Grant (7), 4. Matt Westfall (8), 5. Shane Cottle (14), 6. Dallas Hewitt (17), 7. Brian Ruhlman (9), 8. Carmen Perigo (6), 9. Brian Tyler (15), 10. Mike Haggenbottom (13), 11. Jake Swanson (2), 12. Kaylee Bryson (4), 13. Jimmy Light (22), 14. Eric Gordon (27), 15. Nathan Moore (10), 16. Gregg Cory (19), 17. Travis Welpott (18), 18. Russ Gamester (20), 19. Dave Berkheimer (24), 20. Jake Simmons (23), 21. Kyle Robbins (11), 22. Emerson Axsom (12), 23. Casey Buckman (21), 24. Chase Stockon (16), 25. Tom Paterson (25), 26. Dave Peperak (26), 27. Kody Swanson (5). 34:20.563
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS:
1-Kody Swanson-540, 2-Logan Seavey-540, 3-C.J. Leary-511, 4-Justin Grant-432, 5-Brian Tyler-422, 6-Travis Welpott-324, 7-Bobby Santos-280, 8-Kyle Robbins-276, 9-Gregg Cory-269, 10-Taylor Ferns-255.
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