Port Royal, Pennsylvania (June 17, 2023)………Logan Seavey didn’t quite need to showcase the same level of dramatic flair this time around during Saturday night’s USAC Silver Crown main event at Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway.
One year after fence-banging his way to a last lap victory, the Sutter, Calif. native settled this score as early as possible en route to his second consecutive victory at the half-mile, retaining his undefeated 2-0 record in USAC Silver Crown competition at Port Royal.
Seavey tracked down his championship nemesis during the last couple of seasons, Kody Swanson, on the 22nd lap, then proceeded to construct a substantial lead that was eradicated by a late caution. The circumstances couldn’t touch Seavey nor could the competition as he completed the final four-lap stint with his first series victory of the season in his Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing/STIDA.com – CG CPAs – Indy Custom Stone/DRC/Felker Chevy.
Seavey’s sixth career USAC Silver Crown triumph tied him for 19th on the all-time list alongside, Tom Bigelow, Russ Gamester, Kenny Irwin Jr., Jason Leffler, Ken Schrader and Al Unser, all of whom are USAC national champions, including Seavey himself, the 2018 USAC National Midget titlist.
Furthermore, Seavey’s prowess on the half-mile dirt ovals with the series is supreme. His five career half-mile dirt track scores rank second all-time, only behind the great Jack Hewitt. In fact, Seavey seemingly has the field in a stranglehold on these particular circuits, having won five of the past seven dating back to 2021, making him the one to beat as the early series championship leader by a 39-point margin.
“This car is by far the best right now,” Seavey praised. “I’m just cruising around here, and it’s so fun to drive when you’ve got good racecars. The team is doing a good job with the car and we’re putting full nights together. I’m qualifying a little bit better and making my nights a little bit easier too.”
Seavey qualified fourth for the event, putting him on the outside of the second row for the start of the feature while Mitchel Moles occupied the pole position in what was just his second career series appearance. Moles endured quite an eventful qualifying run to start things out for the evening.
After eclipsing the one-lap USAC Silver Crown track record on his qualifying run, following the checkered flag, Moles slid in the outside turn one guardrail, thus sustaining severe damage to his Hans Lein machine. The crew gave it an all-out effort to make repairs and get him back on track in time for the feature.
Moles did lead the field to green, but soon developed a major handling issue as his front wheels began bouncing like basketballs at full song down the straightaways. Moles remained relatively competitive throughout the distance, but ultimately dropped to the wayside five laps from the finish line while running ninth.
Instead, it was Kody Swanson who stepped up to the plate and led the opening 21 circuits. However, trailing just behind him was Seavey who disposed of Moles for the third spot on the 13th lap, then took second from May Belleville (Kan.) High Banks winner Brady Bacon in turn three on lap 16. Chase Dietz, a regular in winged sprint car competition across Pennsylvania, followed suit to third past Bacon a lap later in what was Dietz’s debut Silver Crown run.
Seavey continued to hustle, and on lap 22, he had caught up with Kody Swanson for the race lead, diving to the bottom of turn three before sliding up to secure the position just a few laps shy of the halfway point of the 50-lap affair. Seavey was strong, and he knew exactly the kind of piece he had on this particular evening.
“I knew my car could maneuver,” Seavey admitted. “What I kind of struggled with last year was cutting through the middle, so I stayed down in the middle pretty early just trying to make sure I could get down there and turn the middle and drive off good. Once I got settled about eight to 10 laps in, I moved up to the top of three and four and really got some speed going. It’s not really my style to float around the middle. I really wanted to get up there and run the wall, and we were able to do that.”
Meanwhile, right behind Seavey, the Chase Dietz story continued to develop. After being retaken by Bacon, Dietz began another ascent toward the front, going topside around Bacon for third on lap 35, then to second place on the inside line of turn three by Kody Swanson on lap 37. However, he remained a distant 5.167 seconds behind race leader Seavey who was gonzo at that point in time.
Another spectacular surge was simultaneously taking place for veteran Pennsylvania racer Carmen Perigo who entered the top-five with an outside pass of 2020 series champion Justin Grant on lap 44, and he’d ultimately wind up fourth after diving under Kody Swanson four laps from the finish line to earn a career best series result.
Seavey continued to trounce his opponents with a 5.7 second edge, but a yellow flag on lap 46 for Trey Burke (17th) and Mario Clouser (18th) stifled his comfort cruise, erasing his substantial margin and forcing him to navigate one final restart for the win.
Undeterred, Seavey maintained his high line presence and put the final touches on a splendid performance after conferring with his team under the final yellow flag period.
“We talked about it,” Seavey acknowledged. “I could tell late in the run that (Dietz) was gaining or keeping up with us, but I also knew I could run into three harder. When you have a big lead, you’re not always pushing as hard as you can, so I knew that, for a few laps, if I just rolled into three with more speed and kind of hit the guardrail a little harder, we’d be fine. I wasn’t worried about it. I knew my pace wasn’t where it could be, but that’s how these races go. When you’re leading, you’re never really pushing as hard as you can. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much you beat them by as long as you keep them behind you.”
Seavey’s final margin of victory was 1.242 seconds as he crossed the stripe with Dietz, Bacon, Perigo and Kody Swanson trailing him across the line.
Chase Dietz (York, Pa.) and car owner Bruce Lee formed a brand-new driver/team combination that hit full force straight out of the box at Port Royal in their Karma Industrial Services – Chop Designs – Pancho’s Racing Products/DRC/Claxton Chevy. With his runner-up finish, Dietz became the first driver to finish inside the top-two in his Silver Crown debut since Tyler Roahrig at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2021. Dietz is the first to accomplish the feat on dirt with the series since David Gravel scored second at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in 2020.
“I’ll be damn honest; we had no clue what was going on,” Dietz said with a wry smile. “We were coming out to have some fun and we learned a lot, I thought. After only having a couple laps of practice and qualifying, we really didn’t know what to expect, but it was fun, a lot more fun than even the winged sprints. I’m looking forward to the rest of them.”
In just their second ever USAC Silver Crown race together, Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and the Chris Dyson Racing team have collected a first (Belleville) and now a third (Port Royal) in their Concord American Flagpole – Macri Concrete – Racer Magazine/Maxim/Ott Chevy.
“We had been good on the short runs all race, and I thought we might be able to have something, but we just didn’t really have anything for the first two,” Bacon lamented. “Everybody was pretty much the same speed, but they were a little bit better than us, and we just couldn’t get fired off at the end. On the long runs, they were better, but after the first couple of cautions and the start, we were good. I thought we might have a chance, but it didn’t quite work out. We were just a tick off, and when the track’s that slick, it doesn’t take much to make a big difference.”
In what was his first series start in nearly five seasons, Steve Buckwalter (Royersford, Pa.) earned hard charger honors for his 20th to 14th run in the USAC Silver Crown feature. Buckwalter also captured a victory earlier in the night at Port Royal in the winged 410 Sprint Car A-Main.
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 17, 2023 – Port Royal Speedway – Port Royal, Pennsylvania – 1/2-Mile Dirt Oval – Open Wheel Madness
HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: (Top-16 locked into the feature) 1. Mitchel Moles, 97, Lein-20.899 (New Track Record); 2. Kody Swanson, 77, Doran/Binks-20.918; 3. Chase Dietz, 86, Lee-21.017; 4. Logan Seavey, 22, Rice/Abacus-21.362; 5. C.J. Leary, 6, Klatt-21.397; 6. Brady Bacon, 9, Dyson-21.437; 7. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-21.759; 8. Mario Clouser, 92, Kazmark-21.771; 9. Carmen Perigo, 52, Stehman-21.779; 10. Jake Swanson, 10, DMW-21.817; 11. Chase Stockon, 69, Pink 69-21.834; 12. Matt Westfall, 81, BCR-21.883; 13. Shane Cottle, 74, Hodges-21.910; 14. Kevin Thomas Jr., 19, Legacy-21.997; 15. Kaylee Bryson, 26, Pierce-22.082; 16. Alex Bright, 24, Haggenbottom-22.124; 17. Wayne Johnson, 12, Two C-22.254; 18. Trey Burke, 11, Hamilton-22.388; 19. Ryan Thomas, 118, Wingo-22.475; 20. Russ Gamester, 51, Gamester-22.559; 21. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott-22.609; 22. Steve Buckwalter, 53, FTM-22.717; 23. Mark Bitner, 4, Yeska-22.780; 24. Taylor Ferns, 555, Ferns-22.856; 25. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-23.026; 26. Gregg Cory, 32, Williams-23.373; 27. Tom Paterson, 111, Paterson-23.468; 28. Chris Fetter, 15, Fetter-24.889; 29. Tim Simmons, 3, Simmons-24.998; 30. Mark Smith, 01, L & M-NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS QUALIFYING RACE: (12 laps, top-8 transfer to the feature) 1. Wayne Johnson, 2. Russ Gamester, 3. Trey Burke, 4. Steve Buckwalter, 5. Ryan Thomas, 6. Mark Smith, 7. Mark Bitner, 8. Gregg Cory, 9. Dave Berkheimer, 10. Taylor Ferns, 11. Tom Paterson, 12. Tim Simmons, 13. Travis Welpott, 14. Chris Fetter. NT
FEATURE: (50 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (4), 2. Chase Dietz (3), 3. Brady Bacon (6), 4. Carmen Perigo (9), 5. Kody Swanson (2), 6. Justin Grant (7), 7. Matt Westfall (12), 8. Shane Cottle (13), 9. C.J. Leary (5), 10. Kevin Thomas Jr. (14), 11. Chase Stockon (11), 12. Jake Swanson (10), 13. Alex Bright (16), 14. Steve Buckwalter (20), 15. Wayne Johnson (17), 16. Mario Clouser (8), 17. Mark Smith (22), 18. Kaylee Bryson (15), 19. Travis Welpott (26-P), 20. Ryan Thomas (21), 21. Mark Bitner (23), 22. Gregg Cory (24), 23. Taylor Ferns (25-P), 24. Mitchel Moles (1), 25. Trey Burke (19), 26. Russ Gamester (18). NT
(P) represents a provisional starter
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Kody Swanson, Laps 22-50 Logan Seavey.
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-198, 2-Kody Swanson-159, 3-Brady Bacon-134, 4-Justin Grant-133, 5-Matt Westfall-124, 6-Taylor Ferns-121, 7-Shane Cottle-110, 8-Kaylee Bryson-109, 9-C.J. Leary-106, 10-Chase Stockon-105.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Daison Pursley-97, 2-Logan Seavey-57, 3-Chase Stockon-52, 4-Justin Grant-51, 5-Matt Westfall-47, 6-Carson Garrett-38, 7-Brady Bacon-37, 8-Thomas Meseraull-37, 9-Bryant Wiedeman-35, 10-Emerson Axsom-33.
NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 24, 2023 – Madison International Speedway – Oregon, Wisconsin – 1/2-Mile Paved Oval – Bytec Dairyland 100
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Practice Fastest Driver: Kody Swanson (21.182)
Honest Abe Roofing / Lauver’s Concessions Fast Qualifier: Mitchel Moles (20.899)
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Qualifying Race Winner: Wayne Johnson
Hard Charger: Steve Buckwalter (20th to 14th)