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Saturday, 11 May 2024

UNDENIED: SEAVEY SAVORS FIRST BLOOMINGTON USAC SPRINT WIN AT LARRY RICE CLASSIC Featured

Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) scored the victory in Friday night's Larry Rice Classic USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature at Indiana's Bloomington Speedway. Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) scored the victory in Friday night's Larry Rice Classic USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature at Indiana's Bloomington Speedway. Indy Racing Images Photo

UNDENIED: SEAVEY SAVORS FIRST BLOOMINGTON USAC SPRINT WIN AT LARRY RICE CLASSIC

By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Bloomington, Indiana (May 10, 2024)………After seeing victory slip away on late-race restarts in three of his past four USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship starts, Logan Seavey wasn't about to let another escape from his grasp.

On a late restart in Friday night's Larry Rice Classic, Seavey was picture perfect as he delivered his first career Bloomington Speedway victory in his Abacus Racing/CG CPAs – Indy Custom Stone – Forecheck Marketing/DRC/Stanton Chevy.

In February’s Winter Dirt Games finale at Florida’s Ocala Speedway, C.J. Leary scooted under Seavey on a restart with three laps to go.  On a restart with 14 laps to go at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, Kevin Thomas Jr. gained the upper hand by steadily driving past on the bottom for the top spot.  Just two laps after the restart during last Saturday’s thriller at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, Justin Grant stuck a slider in turns one and two on Seavey, then led the final three laps.

When a caution came with just four laps remaining in Friday’s main event at Bloomington, Seavey was game for the challenge, fending off the challenges from both Ricky Lewis and a surging Daison Pursley to win his third USAC National Sprint Car feature of the year.

Seavey and Abacus Racing have constructed one of the finest beginnings for a new driver and team combination in USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship history.  The Bloomington round served as a microcosm of the season as a whole with the beginning of their 30-lap feature playing out just about as smoothly.  Seavey traveled from third to second on the opening lap and second to first on the second circuit, and from there on out, was never officially overtaken en route to the team’s third victory of the year.

Throughout the first quarter of the season, Seavey has now posted nine top-three finishes, which has allowed him to open up a 71-point lead, the largest throughout the first 10 USAC National Sprint Car events since Justin Grant 2017.

Furthermore, the race had another special, more personal meaning to Seavey.  The Larry Rice Classic is held annually in memory of the three-time USAC national champion driver and television commentator.  One year ago, Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) captured the USAC Silver Crown National Championship at the wheel of a Rice-owned car operated by Larry’s son, Robbie.

“I’ve been running this race for a handful of years now and my friendship with Robbie has really become more like family to me,” Seavey said.  “He’s given me a shot in the Silver Crown cars and he’s done so much for me over the last few years just keeping me out here and giving me a place to live at times.  He’s been such a huge part of my career over the last few years.  I know this race is for his dad who meant a lot to the whole sport of USAC racing, so this is really cool.”

Seavey’s 13th career USAC National Sprint Car feature win moved him up another line on the series’ career win list, pushing him past Eric Gordon and into a tie with Steve Chassey on the list for 47th all-time.  The victory also marked Seavey’s first at Bloomington’s 1/4-mile red clay oval after finishing third in each of his past two Larry Rice Classic starts in 2018 and 2023.

“I’m just happy to get a win here,” Seavey exclaimed.  “I always love coming to Bloomington.  I never could quite win here but this thing was so good tonight.”

While Seavey’s start to the main event was superb, Jadon Rogers’ opening lap was equally misfortunate.  The fifth-starting Rogers clipped an infield tire marker in turn two which launched him into orbit.  While airborne, Rogers’ car was clipped by the trailing ride of C.J. Leary.  As a result, Rogers’ car straightened before dropping straight down like an elevator freefalling in a shaft, landing right on top of the roll cage.  Although initially loaded into the ambulance on a stretcher, Rogers eventually walked back to the Michael Dutcher Motorsports’ trailer under his own power.

When racing resumed, Bloomington regular Brayden Fox got the advantage at the start to lead the opening lap from the pole position.  However, Seavey was making his stride to the front, going low to surpass Ricky Lewis for second on the first lap before shooting to the topside on the second go around where he eked out ahead of Fox by the slimmest of margins to lead lap two.

Shortly after, it became a proverbial beatdown as Seavey checked out, building a full-straightaway advantage over Fox by the completion of lap five.  By lap 12, Lewis, having the best run of his young USAC career in his 18th series start, rose to second on the leaderboard with an outside pass of Fox on lap 12.

By midway, Seavey was working lapped traffic as he poked his way high and low through the backend of the field with an incredible half-lap advantage.  But one driver in particular was bound and determined to close the gap, Daison Pursley, who started his race 23rd in the 24-car field.  On lap 18, he scooted around the outside of Fox for the third position, then went to work on Lewis for the runner-up spot.  All the while, Seavey was cruising comfortably, nearly six seconds ahead of the pack.  Although the track presented its share of challenges to Seavey, he was game for it all and everything that was thrown his way to overcome.

“Since they took a little banking out, it’s really hard to get off the corners on the top of two and four,” Seavey explained.  “It kind of shoves you off the front stretch and it just makes it really tricky, which I don’t know is necessarily a bad thing.  The harder these tracks are, the more fun it is as a racer.  You can try to figure out different things.  It’s really tricky to get off the top.  I was starting to give up on it there in traffic and I felt so good from the middle to the bottom that I didn’t really want to move around after that.  Those guys forced me to do that on that first restart and I decided to go for it and get back to where I was good and try to get away.  The last thing you want to do is get racing with these guys.  They’re so good, they’ll put you away quickly.”

A caution for the spun car of 18th running USAC Rookie Rylan Gray in turn four with four laps remaining stifled Seavey’s pursuit and allowed the gap between he and all other challengers to be erased to zilch.  On the ensuing lap 27 restart, Pursley nearly picked the pockets of both Lewis and Seavey, briefly edging both drivers for the lead in turn two before falling back into line behind both.  Seavey acknowledged the inherent difficulties of playing the role of the chased rabbit on a restart with two hungry greyhounds right on your back bumper.

“I kind of got lost there at the end,” Seavey admitted.  “I was so good in the middle and the bottom in traffic, I didn’t really know where to go.  It’s hard to gauge off traffic at times but I just really didn’t know where to go on that late restart.  I feel like I’ve been leading a few of these late and have given them away but we got a caution again and I finally committed to the top and got to pounding it a little bit and got away.  But this car is so good everywhere, it just made it hard to make a decision.”

But the excitement was short lived as contact between Leary and Fox in turn two amid the battle for fourth sent Fox spinning to a stop, necessitating a yellow flag and erasing Fox’s career best USAC run.

On the restart, Pursley instantly climbed to second underneath Lewis on the back straightaway, then went to work on trying to chase down Seavey while Leary followed in tow to third.  However, as Seavey proved all night long, he was simply too strong as he sped away to a 1.436 second victory over Pursley, Leary, Lewis and Shane Cottle.

Daison Pursley’s hard charging performance from 23rd to 2nd was his best finish yet on the 2024 USAC season aboard his Team AZ Racing/Apache Transport – Oak Craft Elegant Cabinetry/DRC/1-Way Chevy.  The 21 cars he passed also ranks among the best in series history and is certainly the best since at least 2019.  In that span, three drivers have advanced 19 positions: Tyler Courtney (22nd to 3rd at Ocala in 2019); Stevie Sussex (24th to 5th at Arizona Speedway in 2019); and Brady Bacon (22nd to 3rd at Lawrenceburg in 2023).  Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) bested them all on this night.

“I didn’t have a good qualifying effort, but I felt fast in the heat race, and we were able to transfer, then I felt crazy good in the feature,” Pursley documented.  “I don’t think I had enough for Logan there even though I was third on the restart.  I think they had us covered tonight.  It’s not where we want to be but it’s in the right direction.  We’ll need to keep clicking off these podiums, and hopefully, we’ll get on that top step one day.”

C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) was involved in a first lap crash, which caused damage to his BGE Dougherty Motorsports/Altoz – Valvoline – Hornbeck Concrete/DRC/1-Way Chevy.  Nonehteless, it didn’t slow him up much as he made his way back to third in the final laps, another fine performance for the defending Larry Rice Classic winner.

“I think the racetrack came to us, and I knew that when we rolled out there, we were going to be pretty tight,” Leary said.  “I want to apologize to Brayden Fox.  I got in that crash on the first lap, and it ripped the left front brake line off.  We got it plugged, so I had rear brakes, but it just didn’t have enough to stop from running into him on that last restart.  It’s definitely not what I wanted to do.  He had a great run going and I hate that I took that away from him.  I found some stuff there late in the race through the middle of three and four when I was battling Cottle and I was using it to our advantage on that last restart, but it’s a good night for us to be standing on the podium after everything we had going on.”

In Honest Abe Roofing Qualifying, Geoff Ensign (Sebastopol, Calif.) earned his first career USAC National Sprint Car fast time.  In doing so, the 2022 Bloomington Speedway sprint car track champion became the first driver to earn his first career USAC quick time at Bloomington since Danny Holtsclaw in 2010.

 

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 10, 2024 – Bloomington Speedway – Bloomington, Indiana – Larry Rice Classic – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval

HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Geoff Ensign, 44E, Ensign-11.496; 2. Jadon Rogers, 17GP, Dutcher-11.600; 3. Gabriel Gilbert, 10G, GGR-11.602; 4. Carson Garrett, 15, BGE Dougherty-11.609; 5. Shane Cottle, 2E, Epperson-11.656; 6. Logan Seavey, 57, Abacus-11.665; 7. Ricky Lewis, 41, Stensland-11.704; 8. Brayden Fox, 53, Fox-11.775; 9. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-11.778; 10. Anton Hernandez, 5, Baldwin/Fox-11.794; 11. Kyle Cummins, 3p, Petty-11.794; 12. Harley Burns, 16, Britt Aero-11.796; 13. Rylan Gray, 06, Gray-11.827; 14. Trey Osborne, 6T, Osborne-11.836; 15. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-11.840; 16. Mitchel Moles, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-11.858; 17. Weston Gorham, 71w, Gorham-11.879; 18. Saban Bibent, 98, Wedgewood-11.888; 19. C.J. Leary, 15x, BGE Dougherty-11.917; 20. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-11.929; 21. Jake Swanson, 2B, 2B Racing-11.956; 22. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-11.977; 23. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-11.993; 24. Chance Crum, 26, Crum-12.039; 25. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3R, Rock Steady-12.087; 26. Daison Pursley, 21AZ, Team AZ-12.164; 27. Hunter Maddox, 24m, Maddox-12.206; 28. Matt Thompson, 26T, Thompson-12.250; 29. Todd Hobson, 44, Soudrette-12.271; 30. Braxton Cummings, 71B, Cummings-12.346; 31. Joey Amantea, 88J, JPA-12.368; 32. Lee Dakus, 21x, Dakus-12.485; 33. Frankie Guerrini, 04, Burton-12.510; 34. Zack Pretorius, 9z, Pretorius-NT (Time of 12.110 disallowed due to missing the scales).

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Jake Swanson, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Shane Cottle, 4. Geoff Ensign, 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 6. Weston Gorham, 7. Rylan Gray, 8. Frankie Guerrini, 9. Todd Hobson. 2:03.763

ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Logan Seavey, 2. Jadon Rogers, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Daison Pursley, 5. Anton Hernandez, 6. Zack Pretorius, 7. Saban Bibent, 8. Braxton Cummings, 9. Trey Osborne. NT

T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Ricky Lewis, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Joey Amantea, 6. Matt Westfall, 7. Gabriel Gilbert, 8. Hunter Maddox. NT

CAR IQ FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Mitchel Moles, 3. Harley Burns, 4. Chance Crum, 5. Brayden Fox, 6. Carson Garrett, 7. Matt Thompson, 8. Lee Dakus. 2:07.299

ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Garrett, 2. Matt Westfall, 3. Gabriel Gilbert, 4. Rylan Gray, 5. Weston Gorham, 6. Saban Bibent, 7. Zack Pretorius, 8. Trey Osborne, 9. Frankie Guerrini, 10. Lee Dakus, 11. Hunter Maddox, 12. Matt Thompson, 13. Braxton Cummings, 14. Todd Hobson. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (3), 2. Daison Pursley (23), 3. C.J. Leary (7), 4. Ricky Lewis (2), 5. Shane Cottle (4), 6. Jake Swanson (9), 7. Brady Bacon (20), 8. Kyle Cummins (14), 9. Justin Grant (12), 10. Matt Westfall (17), 11. Robert Ballou (8), 12. Brayden Fox (1), 13. Kevin Thomas Jr. (22), 14. Chase Stockon (19), 15. Harley Burns (15), 16. Anton Hernandez (13), 17. Mitchel Moles (18), 18. Carson Garrett (11), 19. Rylan Gray (16), 20. Joey Amantea (24), 21. Gabriel Gilbert (10), 22. Geoff Ensign (6), 23. Chance Crum (21), 24. Jadon Rogers (5). NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Brayden Fox, Laps 2-30 Logan Seavey.

**Hunter Maddox, Todd Hobson & Matt Thompson flipped during the semi. Jadon Rogers flipped on lap 1 of the feature.

USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-743, 2-C.J. Leary-672, 3-Kevin Thomas Jr.-643, 4-Justin Grant-586, 5-Daison Pursley-574, 6-Kyle Cummins-540, 7-Brady Bacon-525, 8-Robert Ballou-503, 9-Chase Stockon-501, 10-Mitchel Moles-498.

OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Robert Ballou-47, 2-C.J. Leary-40, 3-Joey Amantea-38, 4-Tye Mihocko-32, 5-Kevin Thomas Jr.-30, 6-Brady Bacon-30, 7-Daison Pursley-30, 8-Jadon Rogers-29, 9-Mitchel Moles-29, 10-Matt Westfall-29.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 11, 2024 – Tri-State Speedway – Haubstadt, Indiana – Spring Showdown – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval

 

CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:

Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: C.J. Leary (11.688)

Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifier: Geoff Ensign (11.496)

Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Jake Swanson

Rod End Supply Second Heat Winner: Logan Seavey

T.J. Forged Third Heat Winner: C.J. Leary

Car IQ Fourth Heat Winner: Robert Ballou

Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Carson Garrett

Hard Charger: Daison Pursley (23rd to 2nd)