SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Today we complete our look back at the many amazing moments that took place during the USAC season in the Silver Crown, National Sprint Car and National Midget divisions.
Seavey’s Indiana Sprint Week Trifecta
Logan Seavey’s three-straight Indiana Sprint Week victories in July were the most since Kevin Thomas Jr. won three consecutively in 2013 and marked the longest winning streak in all of USAC National racing in 2021.
Jay Drake also captured three-straight Indiana Sprint Week wins in 2000 as did Cory Kruseman during the 2002 series. The longest winning streak in Indiana Sprint Week history belongs to Jon Stanbrough with four-in-a-row between 2006-07.
Seavey took over the reins of the standings after the rounds at Lincoln Park and Bloomington and led the standings entering the feature on the final night at Tri-State by nine over Brady Bacon and by 10 over Kevin Thomas Jr.
Leary & Windom Net $20,000 At Huset’s
Repeating their performances from the night before, C.J. Leary and Chris Windom won again for their personal largest paydays of the 2021 season, taking $20,000 each in September’s inaugural Huset’s Speedway USAC Nationals in South Dakota.
In a race where multiple leaders fell by the wayside, Windom found himself in a seemingly envious position with 15 laps to go in the 100-lap USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature. However, Windom had already been entrenched in this scenario multiple times throughout the weekend with varying degrees of success.
With just less than five laps left in the preceding, accompanying USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature, for just a brief, fleeting moment, Windom thought he had the $20,000 prize just within his grasp. However, he didn’t let the midget feature slip from his grasp.
Furthermore, when C.J. Leary gets on a roll, he’s routinely displayed his ability to ride that hot streak as long as he possibly can. In fact, since 2016, no driver has won two-in-a-row more often in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature events than the Greenfield, Ind. native with five.
In the Sprint feature, Leary became the first driver in the series’ 2021 season to win consecutive races on multiple occasions, turning the 1/3-mile dirt oval into his personal ATM as he followed Saturday’s preliminary win with the biggest payday of his racing career in the 40-lapper.
Jake Swanson Wins First By 1 One Hundreths
With four runner-up finishes throughout his first full USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season, Jake Swanson wasn’t about to settle for yet another in his ongoing pursuit of a first career series victory during November’s opener for the 25th Oval Nationals at southern California’s Perris Auto Speedway.
In fact, running second entering the final set of turns on the last lap wasn’t sufficient enough to satisfy the Anaheim, Calif. native who was making his first trip back to his home track since becoming a permanent resident of Indiana about a year ago.
Swanson threw a “Hail Mary” through the marbles on the final circuit, removing himself from the bottom to take one last shot at the top of turn four. Swanson ignited the sky with a shower of sparks as his right-side wheels glanced off the outside front straightaway wall, then promptly brushed Thomas’ left side wheels in a drag race to the finish line with Swanson ahead at the stripe by a mere 0.010 of a second for the closest finish of the year, and one of the closest in series history.
Seavey Wins All 3 Dirt Finales
Logan Seavey knows how to close the curtain, fade to black and roll credits in style. Seavey slammed the door on the 2021 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship campaign with a monumental score in November’s 80th running of the 98-lap 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, 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.
Chase Elliott Goes USAC Midget Racing
He followed the tour to Florida, Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana and California, just to have some fun in his “spare” time. Chase Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, was a frequent visitor throughout the 2021 USAC National Midget season and showed well for a racing discipline in which he wasn’t accustomed to and hadn’t before attempted.
His highlight came at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park in February where the Dawsonville, Ga. native trounced the competition to win his heat race. In four feature starts, his best result was a 14th later that same night.
Moving out west, in November, at California’s Placerville Speedway, the night marked the first time that two NASCAR Cup Series champions started a USAC National Midget feature as both Elliott, along with Hendrick Motorsports teammate and 2021 victor Kyle Larson, competed in the event.
Rice Becomes First Second Generation Silver Crown Champ
Robbie Rice had a dream to become a USAC Silver Crown champion, and in 2021, that dream was fully realized as the series’ entrant champion in 2021, making him the first ever second-generation Silver Crown champ, following his father, Larry Rice, who won titles as a driver in 1977 and 1981.
The team materialized as a dirt-only outfit on the 2020 USAC Silver Crown trail, contesting three events with 2018 USAC National Midget champion and 2021 Silver Crown Rookie, Logan Seavey, at the wheel where they displayed immediate speed and brilliance that just scraped the surface of the potential the Brownsburg, Ind. team possessed.
During the offseason prior to the start of the 2021 campaign, the team’s initial plans were to have Seavey compete solely on the dirt side of the equation. However, mere weeks before the season opener on the pavement of Brownsburg’s Lucas Oil Raceway in late May, a pavement car was added to the team’s arsenal, setting the course for an assault on the series championship.
Seavey finished second in the driver standings behind champion Kody Swanson after winning two races for Rice, both on dirt, at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway and Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.
Thorson, A Record Setting USAC Sprint Rookie
Tanner Thorson’s first season in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition was downright historic. His five wins are the most ever by a Rookie with the series. His fourth-place finish in the final standings was the best for any driver in the past 31 years. His seven fast qualifying times were also the most for a series Rookie ever.
Starting all 43 events, he accumulated 22 top-fives and 32 top-tens. He’s a past USAC National Midget champion in 2016. Now, the Minden, Nevada driver is the 2021 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year for the Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports team.
Gamester & Tyler Reach 200 Silver Crown Starts
Brian Tyler and Russ Gamester both surpassed the 200th USAC Silver Crown start mark in 2021. Together, both reached number 201 during the season finale at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway, which tied them for the all-time record in that category alongside Dave Darland.
Gamester became the second ever driver to reach the 200 start mark in August at Lucas Oil Raceway while Tyler became the third individual to hit 200 at Eldora in September.
Ironman’s Streak Ends At 324
Perhaps the most incredible of all longevity streaks in the history of USAC National Sprint Car racing came to an end in April at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway when Chase Stockon finished 10th in the semi-feature, coming up shy of a transfer spot to the feature event.
Although the team did have a provisional starting position available, they elected not to utilize it. Thus, Stockon’s all-time record streak of 324 consecutive feature starts in USAC National Sprint Car competition was over, a record which dated back to every series race run since 2012.
Timms Becomes Youngest USAC Midget Winner
At just 15 years, 3 months and 12 days old, Ryan Timms made history in November on night one of the Elk Grove Ford Hangtown 100 at California’s Placerville Speedway by becoming the youngest feature winner in the history of the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship.
The Oklahoma City, Okla. native rewrote the record books just a mere five months after Corey Day’s triumph during Indiana Midget Week at Circle City Raceway, which he accomplished at 15 years, 6 months and 12 days old.
In just his 12th career USAC National Midget feature start, Timms earned not only his first career win, but also his first career top-five finish.