VENTURA, Calif. – Logan Seavey knows how to close the curtain, fade to black and roll credits in style.
On Saturday night, Seavey slammed the door on the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship campaign with a monumental score in Saturday‘s 80th running of the 98-lap ARP Turkey Night Grand Prix.
The season closing victory with the series at southern California‘s Ventura Raceway allowed Seavey to become the first driver to win the season finales on dirt for all three of USAC‘s National divisions.
In September of this year, he etched his name as the winner of the final USAC Silver Crown race of the year on dirt at Eldora Speedway. In mid-November, he shut down the Arizona Speedway dirt oval for the final time with a triumph in the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season finale.
For a born and bred California racer such as Seavey, the best truly was saved for last.
The Sutter, Calif., native and his California based team led three different times for a total of 70 laps in the Tom Malloy/Trench Shoring — Rodela Specialty Fabrication/King/Ed Pink Toyota, but their third time in the lead proved to be the charm.
Seavey swapped the lead with newly crowned USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National champion Buddy Kofoid a total of four times in a 25-lap span with Seavey taking the lead for good on the 42nd circuit, then controlling the remainder of the way with Kofoid in close quarters just behind.
For Seavey, this particular win was, by far, the one they‘ll most cherish.
“Turkey Night has basically been number one on the list for our whole team,” Seavey explained. “I‘m from California, crewmen Jerome Rodela and Chris Tramel are both from California and (car owner) Tom Malloy is from California. This is the race we‘ve been looking at all year and this is the race we‘ve been preparing for. This is the biggest race of the year for us.”
Saturday night‘s race was chock-full of historical USAC moments. Kaylee Bryson recorded Fatheadz Fast Qualifying time to become the first woman to win the pole in Turkey Night‘s grand history, which dates back to its inaugural running in 1934.
Her Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports counterpart, Taylor Reime, qualified second and started alongside Bryson, making it the first time in USAC National Midget history that two women qualified first and second.
The duo led the field to the green with Bryson controlling the pace early on, leading the initial 17 laps of the event, which were the first ever in Turkey Night history led by a woman.
The action was interrupted early on by a crash in turn three on the 15th lap which involved both Brenham Crouch and Thomas Meseraull while they tussled for the 27th spot. Crouch was the unluckiest victim, getting upside down.
Meseraull started the race via provisional after falling ill earlier in the day, arriving at the track just about an hour before feature time. Both drivers were okay, although both dropped out early after initially returning to the track following the incident.
Just before the red, Seavey, who started the race from the ninth position, had surged from fifth to third in one fell swoop on lap 15. After the red, he remained on a rapid advance to the second spot on lap 17 around the outside of Reimer for second, then around the outside of Bryson for the race lead just moments later on lap 18.
Following Seavey through the grapevine was Kofoid who utilized a slider to gravitate into the lead in turn three on lap 26. Seavey subsequently returned the favor and powered around the outside of Kofoid in turn four to regain the lead on lap 28.
Back and forth they went with Kofoid charging back into the lead on lap 33, using the topside to make the successful maneuver, amid both he and Seavey encountering an intimate meeting with lapped traffic.
Kofoid‘s run proved to be short-lived yet again as, nine trips around the fifth-mile dirt oval later, Seavey found a crevice to sneak back under Kofoid for the lead in turn one on lap 41 as the leaders continued to negotiate the endless logjam of lapped cars. It all came just in time, according to Seavey.
“When he went by for the lead, I knew it was going to be tough to get back,” Seavey admitted. “He was really trying to get to the rubber first. Luckily, it wasn‘t quite in coming off four and I was able to drive back around him. We put on a decent race for a few laps, then the rubber came, and it was just hold on and save tires.”
A yellow on lap 50 for 22nd running Emerson Axsom‘s backwards spin in turn one nearly collected the race leader, Seavey, as he darted right to narrowly avoid catastrophe. No harm, no foul. But the stoppage, as it turned out, would completely change the complexion of the race, something Seavey looked into his crystal ball and foretold.
“I kind of knew early that the rubber was coming, and I was just charging really hard to get to the front,” Seavey detailed. “As soon as I got to the lead, it was full save. But then Buddy got me, and I thought at the time, that was going to be it.
“For me, it was just like Silver Crown racing where you get to the lead and try to hold on for the rest of the race,” Seavey continued. “That experience probably helped me a lot right there. I was able to get back by Buddy in lapped traffic and I saw him move down, so I knew he was feeling something on the bottom. As soon as I went by him, I went straight back to the bottom, and I wasn‘t moving after that.”
That‘s where he stayed throughout the remainder of the race, never meandering from the bottom, which didn‘t allow Kofoid any room to search and make an attack even though he was able to get to Seavey‘s rear bumper numerous occasions throughout the second half of the race, keeping pace within one to five car lengths throughout.
Following a lap 85 restart in which 21st running Jade Avedisian spun in turn one and ninth-place Cannon McIntosh stopped with a flat right rear on the back straightaway, the 45-minute rule came into effect, forcing the feature to be red flagged and necessitating an open red situation for fuel and additional adjustments as long as tires did not leave the ground.
Mitchel Moles used the late-race restart with 15 laps remaining to blitz underneath and past Kyle Larson for third exiting turn two. One last caution hit with seven to go for a McIntosh spin between turns three and four, creating one more final restart for Seavey to handle.
Seavey expertly navigated the choppy waters, not allowing Kofoid much of a chance to get a bumper in edgewise. Although, there was once such occasion with five laps to go in which Kofoid got into Seavey, which received the full brunt of Seavey‘s attention at that point, even though time was running out on his right rear rubber, and Kofoid‘s too.
“Both of our tires were about gone,” Seavey noted of he and Kofoid‘s right rears during the final laps. “I felt him bump me off four with a few to go and I knew it was time to go. I knew I had a little bit of tire left and kind of took off a little bit. I don‘t know how close he was at the end, but I was nervous. I ran hard the last five laps, and I was praying the last lap that we didn‘t blow a tire.”
The tire remained strong and the driver in the seat stood tall. Seavey kept Kofoid at bay in the final round and delivered the final knockout blow with an exhilarating wheelstand as he raced under the checkered flag for his first Turkey Night winning experience with Kofoid, Moles, Larson and Bryson rounding out the top-five.
For complete results, click below.