ROSSBURG, Ohio — After finishing second in the first two legs of Saturday’s 39th running of the 4-Crown Nationals presented by NKT.TV at Eldora Speedway, Logan Seavey felt he had played second fiddle more than enough.
When it came to the USAC Silver Crown nightcap on Saturday, Seavey pulled no punches right from word go as he charged from sixth to second on lap one, and from second to first on the second lap, leading the final 49 circuits to corral his first victory at the half-mile dirt oval, which had seemed so elusive to the Sutter, Calif., native.
“I’m just happy to be here driving racecars and winning at Eldora is really, really cool,” Seavey exclaimed. “This place is one of the coolest places you can win at. It sucks to be so close in the other classes and not get it done.”
Seavey’s second career USAC Silver Crown victory, the first of which came at Pennsylvania’s Selinsgrove Speedway in August of this year, allowed him to close within one point of Kody Swanson in the championship standings entering the season finale on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 10, at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway.
Courtney seemed to be the odds-on favorite following his domination of Eldora during the first go-around for USAC Silver Crown racing at Eldora back in June. He started on the pole for Saturday night’s event and slipped away to the lead on the opening lap.
However, the surging Rice Motorsports/Fatheadz Eyewear – STIDA.com – Lucas Oil/DRC/Pink Foxco Chevy of Seavey’s was shot from the proverbial cannon as he scooted underneath the trio of Brady Bacon, Kody Swanson and Jake Swanson in quick succession on the back straightway during lap one to occupy second.
A half lap of following Courtney around Eldora was all Seavey endured before shooting his shot, diving to the inside of the 2017 4-Crown Silver Crown race winner, then sliding up to the middle line to put himself at the top of the pylon. Entering turn one moments later, Courtney returned fire, sliding his way back into the lead briefly. Yet, Seavey quickly crossed over and steered his way underneath and back in front of Courtney to retake the top spot.
Seavey cut a path through the middle that he devised and, henceforth, worked incredibly well for him in both the midget and sprint car races. His Silver Crown debut at the Big E on this night was an entirely different animal with more laps, bigger cars and a bigger fuel load at play. Lest we mention, he’s still a USAC Silver Crown Rookie.
“I never really went to the top in three and four all weekend,” Seavey revealed. “All my cars could cut through the middle so well; I didn’t really have to. That just says a lot about my racecars. I ran 55 practice laps for this race right here and it turned out good for us. I would’ve liked to have beaten Sunshine (Tyler Courtney) heads up, but our car was really good and we’d already gotten to the lead before that. I’m sure he was pushing hard trying to get back to us. But it’s just part of it.”
The first instance of trouble during the event came on lap six when first-time Silver Crown starter Erik Karlsen and Austin Nemire tangled while running 24th and 25th, respectively. Karlsen continued onward to finish 23rd while Nemire exited the race with a knocked out front end, and a 27th place result.
Seavey promptly powered away on the ensuing restart to a 2.139 second interval over Courtney as Seavey began to cut through the thickness of lapped traffic. Amid all that, on lap 24, second-running Courtney devoured the outside turn one wall with the backend of his car, knocking his machine airborne and onto the left side wheels where he busted up the left rear wheel and flattened the tire, which required a swapping in the work area during the yellow.
No sweat for Seavey as the race hit the halfway mark where he reestablished a 2.272 second lead while the man on the move was 14th starting Matt Westfall, who beat K. Swanson to the bottom of turn three with 19 laps remaining, then ultimately cleared the five-time series champ in turn two a half lap later. Shane Cottle followed suit the following lap by surpassing K. Swanson while down near the inside wall entering the third turn.
With 10 laps remaining, Seavey enjoyed and maintained a comfortable 2.2 second lead over Westfall when Chase Johnson, making his Silver Crown debut, and Chris Phillips tangled in turn three while racing for 16th, sending Phillips into a 180-degree spin. A fraction of a moment later, Courtney’s trying night continued and ended all in one fell swoop as he slid his car sideways, careening the right side of his car into the nose of Phillips, ending both driver’s nights on the spot.
On the lap 41 restart, for the first time all race, Seavey had company in the form of Westfall who stuck right within earshot of Seavey, with both keeping their cars straight as an arrow as they worked low to middle on the surface.
Seavey kept Westfall at bay roughly three car lengths back as the two frontrunners raced under the white flag. Westfall made one last ditch effort in turns three and four, which resulted in him getting right to the back bumper of Seavey as he went a lane higher than usual. While Westfall made a gain, it wasn’t enough to overcome Seavey off the final corner.
The victory went to Seavey with Westfall finishing a car length back in second, Cottle third, Bacon fourth and K. Swanson fifth.
With spotter, crew chief and five-time USAC Western States Midget driving champion Ronnie Gardner in his ear, Seavey was in a groove. By getting to the lead right away and feeling comfortable on the top, Seavey moved around in lapped traffic and could feel the track gripping up on the bottom, presenting the option for them to alter their plan of attack.
“I didn’t really know where to go and Ronnie was kind of being quiet and letting me do my thing,” Seavey explained. “He’d chime in with ‘Westfall’s gaining, Westfall’s gaining,’ then he got quiet, and I looked at the video board and he was basically on me the whole time. I don’t know if moving down in one and two was the right call, but it worked out. I felt so good up on the fence, but I was getting worried they were just going to go by me in the rubber.”
Westfall equaled his best career USAC Silver Crown result with a second in his Westfall Motorsports/Lynn Cook – Bordner Welding – Lake City Bowl – Ray Marshall/Maxim/J & D Chevy. That equaled the 2002 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year’s runner-up finish at Eldora in 2013.
Westfall experienced an engine issue during Friday’s practice and qualifying, but after a day’s work to get it purring again on Saturday, he nearly experienced that first career Silver Crown victory at the same place he collected his initial USAC National Sprint Car feature win in 2006, but felt he waited just a tad too late to make his final move on Seavey and felt he should’ve gone higher into turn three on the 50th and final lap.
Cottle experienced a fuel line issue late in the race which had the DMW Motorsports/Advanced Materials Technologies – US Auto Cure/Meyer/Wilcox Chevy sputtering the last several laps. However, it wasn’t enough to deter the veteran driver from tying his best career 4-Crown Silver Crown finish of third, which is where he previously finished at the event in both 2017 and 2018.
To see full results, turn to the next page.