Leading with just a few laps to go during Wednesday night’s USAC Indiana Midget Week round at Gas City I-69 Speedway, Logan Seavey had to have felt a bit of déjà vu. After all, he had been in this situation before.
As a matter of fact, he had been in the same exact position one race earlier on Monday night at Circle City Raceway, leading the race when an ignition switch failed on him just three laps from the finish line.
At Gas City, Seavey wasn’t about to be bitten by the heartbreak bug once more, instead taking matters into his own hands, even despite a destroyed left rear shock that was weighing on his conscience.
The Sutter, Calif. native saw the lead slip from his grip on a restart with four laps remaining, hooking the turn four cushion consecutively on laps 27 and 28, before nailing it with exquisite precision coming to the white flag to take over the lead.
Hanging on for dear life as if he were riding Bodacious the rodeo bull around the quarter-mile dirt oval, Seavey slipped over the cliff on the backstretch on the final lap before jumping back on and diving to the bottom of turn three to secure his first USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature victory since the November 2021 Turkey Night Grand Prix, and the first ever for his Abacus Racing team, by a 0.427 second margin.
Seavey and the team wanted this one badly, and after Monday’s excruciating ending, the final scene at Gas City was downright Hollywood-esque for he and his Abacus Racing/Indy Custom Stone – CG CPAs – Dozer’z Nut’z & Bolt’z/Spike/Stanton SR-11x.
“We were all pretty disappointed after Monday, but that really opened our eyes that we were going to win, and when it was going to happen, it was just going to be that much more special,” Seavey explained. “That’s just because they’re so hard to win and we were so good Monday, and it stings even worse when you’re just that good.”
The triumph for the 2019 USAC Indiana Midget Week champion was the ninth of his USAC National Midget career, equaling him with Billy Boat, Chad Boat, Tony Elliott, Chuck Gurney and Thomas Meseraull for 78th on the all-time series win list.
Starting fourth on the grid, Seavey found himself amid a three-part harmony at the front of the field during the initial several laps in which he and front row starters Emerson Axsom and Jacob Denney waged an intense war which saw each driver volley the lead back and forth amongst each other repeatedly for five straight laps.
Axsom officially controlled the first three at the stripe before Seavey shot past both to place himself at the forefront of the field on lap four. It was but a fleeting moment for Seavey as Axsom took patrol of the bottom and lurched ahead to take over the top spot on the fifth circuit.
Seavey kept digging, throwing successful slide jobs on Axsom in turns one and two on laps seven and eight. However, Axsom was able to thwart Seavey by driving back under off turn two each time to retain the lead. On lap nine, Seavey’s sticktoitiveness paid off as he dove under Axsom in turn one, sticking the bottom this time instead of drifting up the bank, and put himself in prime position at the head of the field.
Under 10 laps to go, Seavey was in full command, leading by a full straightaway over his nearest competition – Axsom and Buddy Kofoid, who were in the midst of a seemingly never-ending side-by-side tussle for the runner-up spot.
Everything was well in hand for Seavey at the moment, but traffic loomed as he began to close in on the tail end of the field. With six to go, Seavey became bogged up on the turn four cushion as he arrived upon the 20th place running car of Jake Andreotti who got out of shape atop the turn four cushion. As a result, the interval of Seavey’s 2.5 second lead had a full second shaved off.
Moments later, Seavey’s margin went from slim to nil when 13th running Daison Pursley slowed to a stop in turn four on lap 27 with a flat left rear tire, dropping him to a 16th place result. The ensuing restart witnessed even more trouble as a stack up in the pack, which began with a tangle between Denney and Cannon McIntosh in turn two while battling for eighth. Both drivers stopped, and the resulting accordion effect sent Hayden Reinbold (17th) flipping over, and ultimately, walking away from.
But the most major problem of all was with the race leader. Though leading, Seavey now had his hands full with a machine that was now missing a key component for the final stretch run.
“When I got to the lappers, I made a mistake and blew the left rear shock off the thing; it was a handful,” Seavey relayed. “I knew I was making mistakes getting into turn three, and there was a big hole. I didn’t have my shock to hold me down, so I was just bouncing across. On that last restart before the red, I was struggling to get to the lapped cars, so I was telling myself to run the bottom, but I knew that without the left rear shock, I was struggling through three and four. I was just going to commit to the bottom, and if Emerson or somebody else was going to go up there and pound it, I was just going to say, ‘hats off.’ But (crewman) Johnny (Cofer) got me riled up under the red, and told me to run the top, so I wasn’t going to go to the bottom. So, I just went back up there and kept pounding it.”
Axsom, sitting second on the lap 27 restart, pounced on the situation at hand and rolled the bottom straight into the lead in turns three and four, which seemed to be quite a bit better on that end than it was in turns one and two where Seavey was able to surge ahead on the high side once again only to lose it back to Axsom again in three and four on lap 28.
Trailing by four car lengths entering turn three and coming to the white flag, Seavey let it all hang out and let it rip on the high side, blasting by Axsom to take over the lead by a car length at the flag stand. Seavey never relented on the 30th and final lap as he dipped his right rear tire over the edge of the back straight, then changed course by clamping down on the bottom of turns three and four to lock up the lead and a long-awaited win, giving it all he could muster in a true win-it or wear-it scenario, if there ever was one.
“(I made) so many mistakes, and tried to give it away about three times,” Seavey admitted. “I don’t even know how I went through one and two so fast. I don’t think I’ve ever been more committed to one and two than I was there with two to go. I was completely turned left, wide open and this thing made it around the corner. I drove off the back stretch on the white flag lap, and I got down in front of him, luckily, and I knew I was going to flip if I tried to go through three and four one more time. Johnny said he wanted a big check for the wall in the shop, so hopefully, this is the first of many.”
Axsom came home in second place with Chase McDermand third, new USAC Indiana Midget Week point leader Buddy Kofoid fourth and Bryant Wiedeman rounding out the top-five with a fifth.
It was “almost” for Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) who led three different times for a total of nine laps in his Petry-Hayward Motorsports/Capital Industries – IPC/Spike/Speedway Toyota. Yet it was still his best USAC National Midget feature result since a runner-up finish at California’s Placerville Speedway in November of 2021.
It was a career best night for Chase McDermand (Springfield, Ill.) in the USAC ranks on this evening. He earned a personal best USAC National Midget finish of third, topping his best previous career finish of fourth, which he earned just last Sunday night at Tri-State Speedway in his Mounce-Stout Motorsports/Rockwell Security – MPV Express/Spike/Stanton SR-11x.
Meanwhile, it was another fine run for Gavin Miller (Allentown, Pa.). The USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year contender advanced nine positions in the feature from 19th to 10th, earning himself Irvin King hard charger honors for the second time in the first three races of USAC Indiana Midget Week, also doing so with a 21st to 10th performance on Sunday at Tri-State, and he remains in command of the IMW ProSource Passing Master standings with 28 total positions advanced throughout the first three nights of competition.
ARCA Menards Stock Car Series point leader Jesse Love (Menlo Park, Calif.) set a new one-lap USAC National Midget track record at Gas City during Honest Abe Roofing Qualifying with a time of 11.788 seconds, the first sub-12 second lap ever turned by the series at the track. Love was one of five drivers under the former mark of 12.048, set by Rico Abreu in 2016.