Logan Seavey (5) charges under Brady Bacon at Port Royal Speedway. (Dan Demarco photo)
PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Port Royal Speedway proved to fit Logan Seavey’s style as the California sprint car racer won Saturday night’s USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship portion of Open Wheel Madness at the half-mile dirt oval.
It was Seavey’s second victory of the Eastern Storm tour after he won Wednesday at Bridgeport Motorsports Park.
“Hammering the guardrail at a big, fast half-mile is tough to beat,” Seavey exclaimed. “I knew this is a place I’d pick up quickly and I’d enjoy racing at.”
Seavey started fifth, but immediately dropped to seventh during the opening two circuits before steadily making up ground in the ensuing lapse. Polesitter Briggs Danner galloped out to the early lead and controlled the first two laps before tagging the cushion at the top of turn two on lap three, which packed his right rear wheel full of mud and forced him to the work area for repairs from which he ‘d recover from to finish 10th.
Fast-qualifier CJ Leary had set a torrid pace early in the feature after starting 6th, finding his way to the second spot by the end of lap one and then taking over his role at the head of the pack when Danner had his troubles.
Bacon became the first to issue a challenge to Leary for the lead on lap four but was unable to complete the pass. That opened the door for a suddenly surging Emerson Axsom who shot to the bottom and veered past Bacon for the runner-up position and, subsequently, the race lead on lap six in between turns one and two.
The previous night’s winner on the somewhat similar half-mile dirt oval of nearby Williams Grove Speedway was Justin Grant who, while running seventh at Port Royal, slowed with a flat right rear tire on lap six. His car was pushed to the work area where it received extensive help from his crewman Dylan Cook as well as rival Brady Bacon’s Dynamics, Inc. Racing crew where it was all hand on deck.
Starting with the lap-seven restart, Bacon and Seavey, along with Shane Cottle, zipped by second-running Leary who dropped from second to fifth in no time flat. Bacon closed rapidly on Axsom shortly thereafter and was able to get right to his rear bumper on lap 12 but couldn’t make the pass.
The door swung wide open for Seavey at that exact moment, allowing him to rip by Bacon for second with a major slider in turn one. As the new second-place car of Axsom challenged Seavey for the top spot at the halfway point, lap 15, Bacon himself closed in on Axsom for second.
Alex Bright, seemingly out of nowhere for the second-straight night, flew from the 16th starting spot past Bacon for third on the 18th lap and to second on lap 19 by Axsom utilizing a patented Port Royal slide job to accomplish the task at hand. However, Seavey still maintained a sizable, near-straightaway lead over Bright with 10 to go.
Meanwhile, Grant, who restarted last after his blown tire on lap seven, had blown by nearly the entire field as he climbed to fourth on lap 26 with an outside pass of Axsom in turn two, then did even one better on the final lap when he slid Bacon in turn three to secure the third and final spot on the podium.
Up and out ahead of those two was Seavey who made his Port Royal debut an astounding and resounding success as he finished off his first ever appearance at Port Royal with his first trip to victory lane at the scenic venue over Bright, Grant, Bacon and Axsom , while leading by a whopping 5.407-second margin at the finish line.
“I had no idea how big of a lead I had,” Seavey acknowledged. “I knew I had good speed, but I didn’t feel like I was running that hard. I feel like the harder you run, the more you hit the cushion and it kind of eats you up. I had kind of a different line down there in three and four and I noticed it’s pretty flat right up by the wall. I was working that, then I bounced off the wall and turned back down. I was just looking for any kind of grip we could find there. (Crew chief) Ronnie Gardner had this because really, really good.”
Bright changed an engine early in the night and then broke from 16th to second, equaling his best career USAC National Sprint Car finish.
Grant made a miraculous drive to finish thirdrd in the feature after pitting for a flat right-rear tire on lap seven.