2022 06 17 Williams Grove Usac Logan Seavey Paul Arch Photo Dsc 3600 (56)a
Logan Seavey (Paul Arch photo)

USAC Eastern Storm Review: Seavey Bolts To Series Title

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Throughout his first five career USAC Eastern Storm feature starts between 2021 and the first race of 2022, Logan Seavey had yet to experience a finishing position in the top-half of the field.

Seavey’s Eastern Storm result sheet was uncharacteristically abysmal, for lack of a better term. The list included a pair of 13th place finishes, a 14th and a 20th in 2021, followed by another 13th during Tuesday night’s opener at Grandview Speedway.

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Logan Seavey (5) charges under Brady Bacon at Port Royal Speedway. (Dan Demarco photo)

However, perhaps, that was the turning point. In 2021, Seavey and his Baldwin-Fox Racing/Fox Paving – AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton Chevy were stuck mid to back of the pack. At Grandview, Seavey was running as high as fourth with 13 laps to go when he had a tire pop.

Though the Grandview result didn’t show the full story, the Sutter, Calif. driver knew the limitless potential they possessed for the remainder of the week, and consequently, put that prowess on full display over the final four events of the five-race series.

A late surge past Briggs Danner with three laps to go resulted in Seavey’s first USAC victory of any kind this season on Wednesday night at New Jersey’s Bridgeport Motorsports Park.

Following a rain out on Thursday night at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway, Seavey carried the momentum into fellow Pennsylvania half-mile dirt oval Williams Grove Speedway on Friday. Running second late, Seavey gave up second on the final restart, then anticipating moisture to be prevalent in the middle of turns one and two, drifted back to third, yet he remained pleased with their speed amid a solid podium finish.

Onto Saturday’s event at the big, fast and scenic Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway, Seavey finished off his first ever appearance at Port Royal with his first trip to victory lane in a 5.407 second stomping and romping at the finish line, which pushed him to the top of the Eastern Storm standings entering Sunday night’s finale at Bloomsburg (Pa.) Fair Raceway.

At Bloomsburg, Seavey wasn’t sure what to expect due to his less-than-ideal results in his previous two appearances there in both a sprint car and midget a year earlier. After struggling in his heat race, crew chief Ronnie Gardner provided a great car for Seavey to operate in the feature. Seavey was on the hunt to figure out where he needed to be on the three-eighths-mile dirt oval and was able to get by Chase Stockon for third-place at the halfway mark, knowing full well he needed a little bit of a buffer to be safe and sound in the pursuit of his first Eastern Storm crown.

Seavey practically captured the Eastern Storm title by two positions, holding onto a five-point margin in the final tally over Bacon, making it the fourth closest title race in the series’ 15-year history, behind only Robert Ballou by 1 over Brady Bacon in 2021; Bryan Clauson by 1 over Dave Darland in 2013; and Chris Windom by 4 over Kevin Thomas Jr. in 2013.

Both Seavey and Bacon won twice during the week, making it the first time in Eastern Storm history that multiple drivers won multiple races in a year.

Bacon’s six career victories have him tied as the winningest Eastern Storm driver of all-time alongside Bryan Clauson, Levi Jones and Chris Windom.

Seavey’s two victories were his first in Eastern Storm action while Grant added a victory to raise his Eastern Storm total to three wins and is the only driver to win features during Eastern Storm in each of the last two seasons in 2021 and 2022.

In doing so, Bacon became just the third driver to win both the first and last feature in a single Eastern Storm week, joining Levi Jones in 2007 and Robert Ballou in 2015.

Bacon led all drivers with 70 laps led during Eastern Storm 2022, leading all 40 at Grandview and all 30 at Bloomsburg, and was also the lone driver to win multiple heat races throughout Eastern Storm, doing so on three occasions in five tries.

Three drivers earned top-five finishes in four of the five Eastern Storm races with Bacon equaled in that regard by fellow feature winners Grant and Seavey. Only two drivers finished inside the top-10 in all five races – Bacon and Danner.

C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) was the fastest qualifier in three of the five events while Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) collected the other two.

Fourteen drivers started all five Eastern Storm events in 2022: Emerson Axsom, Bacon, Robert Ballou, Alex Bright, Danner, Steven Drevicki, Grant, Leary, Brandon Mattox, Jadon Rogers, Seavey, Stockon, Swanson and Matt Westfall.

Alex Bright was the hardest charger on three consecutive nights of Eastern Storm, passing a total of 40 cars throughout the week to lead all drivers in that category. In addition to earning career-best USAC National Sprint Car runner-up finishes on consecutive evenings at Williams Grove and Port Royal, Bright also earned the week’s biggest advancement with a 22nd to 7th performance at Bridgeport.

Danner finished fourth in the final Eastern Storm standings, marking the first such occasion that a Pennsylvania driver finished inside the top-five of the Eastern Storm points. Danner, the USAC Rapid Tire East Coast Sprint Car point leader, finished second at Grandview for his best career USAC National Sprint Car result.

Round 1: Grandview Speedway | Tuesday, June 14

After going on an undefeated stretch of 4-0 in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition at Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania’s Grandview Speedway, Brady Bacon was dethroned one year ago when he finished a distant second at the one-third-mile dirt oval.

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Brady Bacon crosses under the checkered flag at Grandview Speedway. (Dan Demarco photo)

Seeing the door closed on his Grandview winning streak, there was only one remedy that could cure his subsequent blues – start a new winning streak.

The Broken Arrow, Okla. native did exactly that on Tuesday night during the $6,000-to-win Jesse Hockett Classic USAC Eastern Storm opener by leading all 40 laps in nearly wire-to-wire fashion, with the exception of a brief moment when upstart Briggs Danner edged ahead just before the halfway point.

Bacon’s third series win of the year was also his 43rd career USAC National Sprint Car feature victory, which moved him ahead of 1974 and 1976 series champion Pancho Carter and into sole possession of 6th on the all-time list, which also vaulted him from fourth to second in the overall series standings as he pursues his fifth career title aboard the Dynamics, Inc./Fatheadz Eyewear – Gressman Sanitation – DriveWFX.com/Triple X/Rider Chevy.

“I knew we had a good shot starting up front, and I just had to not mess up,” Bacon explained. “I did mess up a couple of times, but, luckily, not bad enough for him to get by us.”

Round 2: Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Wednesday, June 15

Logan Seavey’s past USAC Eastern Storm results were just that – in the past. They were also certainly not representative of the type of run he could muster when everything aligns, from himself, the team, the setup and yes, even the aspect of luck.

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Logan Seavey in victory lane at Bridgeport Motorsports Park. (Rich Forman photo)

All those attributes came together in simultaneous fashion during Wednesday night’s $6,000-to-win round two of USAC Eastern Storm 2022 at Bridgeport, for this evening ultimately belonged to the driver of the Baldwin-Fox Racing/Fox Paving – AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton Chevy.

While Seavey remained in the hunt throughout, he quite nearly saved his best for last when he surged to the front late in the going, taking over the lead with a turn one slide job on Briggs Danner just three laps from the finish to score his first USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature win of the season.

Among the aforementioned results, Seavey’s Bridgeport resume was just as much of a puzzling puzzle with a 13th in both his USAC National Sprint Car and USAC National Midget appearances during the 2021 campaign. But on this night, he made it imperative to turn the beat around.

“I’ve kind of struggled here in the past in the sprint car and the midget,” Seavey acknowledged. “I’m just so proud of (crew chief) Ronnie Gardner. We’ve just been so fast every race. To come out to Pennsylvania where I’ve struggled, and to now get a win here is really cool.”

Round 3: Williamsgrove Speedway | Friday, June 17

”Sprint car racing is supposed to be gnarly. They’re supposed to be won on the fence. We love big curbs, rough racetracks and, the more exciting it is for the fans, the more we like it and the better it is.”

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Justin Grant rides through the cushion at Williams Grove Speedway. (Dave Higgins photo)

Henry David Thoreau, T.S. Eliot and Lord Byron have nothing on Justin Grant when it comes to the manner of weaving words into a rich tapestry of linguistic expression to accurately describe the pure excitement of sprint car racing.

Then again, they’ve never endured the type of ride Grant partook during the final laps of Friday night’s $6,000-to-win USAC Eastern Storm round three at Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway.

Grant authored a relatively flaw-free driving performance until the latter half of the 30-lap main event on the famed half-mile in which the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship first visited exactly 66 years ago to the day back in 1956.

En route to taking the white flag and holding a seemingly comfortable two-plus second margin lead as he encountered the turn three cushion, Grant ran up over the curb, nearly tagged the wall and pulled a reverse wheel stand with both rear tires kicking sky high like a bucking bronco, leaving the right front tire as the lone piece of Grant’s car still making contact with the track surface.

Nonetheless, Grant dug his way out of it and carried on through turn four and the front straightway, taking the signal for one lap to go from the flag stand. Turns one and two were as smooth as can be, as was his final trip beneath the famed landmark bridge that overhangs the back straightaway.

But, as Grant tiptoed through turn three on the bottom, he slid up and tagged the cushion in turn four with his right rear tire. Grant stabbed the gas and wriggled his way free like he was caught in a Chinese finger trap. As he shook loose and saw the checkered flag in the distance, smoke began to billow out of the headers of Grant’s ride as he chugged to the finish line just three car lengths ahead of the rapidly closing Alex Bright.

“I told some of the guys in the pits that I’m setting up to go bang the fence down,” Grant remembered. “I’m not running the bottom; I don’t care. We’re either going to win on the fence or run 20th on the fence.”

Round 4: Port Royal Speedway | Saturday, June 18

This is exactly what Logan Seavey pictured when he first became aware of Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway.

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Logan Seavey won Saturday’s USAC sprint car feature at Port Royal Speedway. (Dan Demarco photo)

The Sutter, Calif. native had the intuition that the place was just his style, and that his first ever visit to the venue on this night could very well be a special night indeed.

Port Royal was the track Seavey was most looking forward to competing at on the entire schedule and how Seavey visualized it would unfold is exactly what occurred on Saturday night during the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship portion of Open Wheel Madness at the half-mile dirt oval.

Seavey took control for the entire second half of the feature to place a second checkmark into the USAC Eastern Storm win column this week after previously adding a victory on Wednesday night at New Jersey’s Bridgeport Motorsports Park, which ascended him to the top of the Eastern Storm standings and into a tie for the Bubby Jones Master of Going Faster Series point lead alongside Brady Bacon with four of the ten races completed thus far.

“Hammering the guardrail at a big, fast half-mile is tough to beat,” Seavey exclaimed following his second victory of the season worth $6,000 in his Baldwin-Fox Racing/Fox Paving – AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton Chevy. “I knew this is a place I’d pick up quickly and I’d enjoy racing at.”

Round 5: Bloomsburg Fair Raceway | Sunday, June 19

Brady Bacon finished what he started in USAC Eastern Storm 2022.

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Brady Bacon en route to victory at Bloomsburg Fair Raceway. (Michael Fry photo)

The Broken Arrow, Okla. native opened and closed the five-race mini-series in a much familiar manner, winning last Tuesday’s opener at Grandview Speedway in wire-to-wire fashion. Bacon ended the busy weekend just the same during Sunday’s Eastern Storm finale at Bloomsburg (Pa.) Fair Raceway, rolling to his second triumph of the week where he led the entire non-stop, caution-free, 30-lap duration from start to finish in his Dynamics, Inc./Fatheadz Eyewear – Gressman Sanitation – DriveWFX.com/Triple X/Rider Chevy.

Bacon’s superb performance from start to finish in Bloomsburg’s $6,000-to-win feature, however, was not enough to overtake Logan Seavey for the Eastern Storm title. That honor went to the Sutter, Calif. native whose two victories and four overall podium finishes in five appearances secured him his first title in the series by a mere five points over Bacon. Seavey wrapped it up with a solid third-place performance at Bloomsburg.

“Luckily, we got to the front early,” Bacon stated. “Stockon poked a nose there and I stepped it up a little bit. Sometimes you lose them when you should win them, and we’ll take this one tonight. We did a lot of crazy stuff to the car to be tight enough and I think it paid off.”

 
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