Third Time's A Charm: Logan Seavey Is A USAC Silver Crown Champion
Third Time's A Charm: Logan Seavey Is A USAC Silver Crown Champion
In his third attempt at winning a USAC Silver Crown championship, Logan Seavey sealed the deal this past weekend at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Leading into the USAC Silver Crown National Championship finale at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Logan Seavey’s co-car owners Robbie Rice and Brent Cox confided that sleep was going to be hard to come by as they counted down the days to the final race of the season.
Sutter, California’s Seavey and the Brownsburg/Noblesville, Indiana based Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing team’s anxiety was exacerbated when rain washed out the originally scheduled date after qualifying, postponing the event to the next day and providing the team 24 more hours of anticipation and increasingly bitten fingernails with one goal in mind – beat Kody.
Their respective uneasiness was completely understandable. Seavey and Rice played a starring role in the season finales during each of the past two years where they found themselves right on the cusp of a first championship, both of which involved their arch nemesis, seven-time champion Kody Swanson.
Seavey entered the last race of 2021 trailing Swanson by one point, and in 2022, stood three points ahead of Swanson going into the final round. On both occasions, Seavey and Rice came up just short when all was said and done, finishing a distant second as they watched Swanson add on to his historic resume.
In 2023, Seavey led once again, but this time, the point margin was 16. With the said, the venue of IRP is akin to homefield advantage for Swanson with him being a seven-time Silver Crown winner at the joint while Seavey was practically a newcomer, still learning the ropes of the asphalt trade. However, when the coast was clear after 100 laps and the points were tallied up, Seavey, Rice and Abacus were finally USAC Silver Crown champions.
Seavey’s sixth place run in the race aboard his DiaEdge Mitsubishi Materials - STIDA.com - CG CPAs sponsored machine was good enough to secure the championship by a seven-point margin over Swanson, making it the eighth closest USAC Silver Crown points race on record in the 53-year history of the series. While Abacus grabbed its first USAC title, it was the second for Rice Motorsports who earned the most entrant points back in 2021.
VIDEO: Highlights from the USAC Silver Crown finale at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
The three dirt wins by Seavey in 2023 met the expectations of the team’s desires as he scored at Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway, the Illinois State Fairgrounds as well as third consecutive victory in the 4-Crown Nationals at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, a night in which he swept to victory in all three USAC divisions in the midget and sprint car. Overall, in five dirt starts, he never once finished outside the top-five.
However, the pavement tracks are truly where the tale would be told. Seavey answered resoundingly out of the gate and strung together a 2nd at IRP in May, a 4th at Illinois’ World Wide Technology Raceway, a pair of 5th place results at Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway and Ohio’s Toledo Speedway, plus a 6th in the IRP finale in October. The performances exceeded his results from year’s past and kept him and Swanson neck-and-neck at the top of the points all year long.
“Right when we joined this series, the dirt races came right to me,” Seavey acknowledged. “I could run well in those, but the pavement is just a little bit of a different ballgame for me. Everyone knew that if we could pick it up on the pavement and be competitive, we’d have a good shot, and we did that a lot this year. We had good runs pretty much every time on the pavement except for Winchester when we crashed.”
The incident in July at Winchester was seemingly disastrous initially when Seavey’s right front wheel center broke, sending him straight into the outside turn two wall. A 12th place result for Seavey coupled with Swanson’s victory lifted Swanson to the point lead and left the Rice-Abacus team in a perilous position to fully prepare their equipment for another 100-lap test at Toledo two weeks later in a car that had just a handful of pieces that didn’t need replacing.
Among the backstories is that Abacus, which began competition in the USAC National Midget ranks in 2021, joined in on the Seavey/Rice Silver Crown effort to start the 2023 campaign. Following the accident, the two factions melded together with a common goal of tediously putting the car back together piece-by-piece and part-by-part.
With all hands on deck, there was little time to get everything back together with the sands of the hourglass running short. In the end, it was mission accomplished, and it was truly the moment when Rice Motorsports and Abacus Racing truly became one team, which was rewarded with another top-five run at Toledo.
“This whole team has just been working so hard,” Seavey praised. “The Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing guys work as hard as anybody I know. All these guys on all these teams work hard, but Winchester was tough for us, and just to get the car back together and in shape to race was huge.”
The Rice-Abacus crew included team principals Robbie Rice and Brent Cox, plus crewman/spotter Ronnie Gardner as well as Kirk Simpson, Johnny Cofer, Daniel Whitley, Bryan Whitley and engine builder A.J. Felker.
Fans familiar with the sport may recognize some of those names for their prowess behind the wheel as well in years past. Rice was the 1998 Lincoln Park Speedway sprint car track champion while Ronnie Gardner was a five-time USAC Western States Midget titlist. Cofer was crowned as the 1994 USAC Western States Midget champ and Felker was a longtime midget competitor himself, winning at such places as the Winchester Speedway high banks. Daniel Whitley is currently a Rookie driver on the USAC National Midget trail.
“It’s a full effort from everyone who works on this thing and gets it on track,” Seavey reiterated. “It means a lot to me that these guys work so hard so I can drive good racecars. We know our dirt car is really good and we could win some races there, but to beat Kody, we had to at least be competitive on the pavement and we were able to do that this year.”
Seavey also now finds himself in a spot to pocket a substantial amount of money in 2023 by winning two of the three USAC National driving championships. He currently leads the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship standings by 225 points with just six events remaining. If he is able to close out the midget title, he will “double” his overall reward.
His $20,000 payday for the Silver Crown championship coupled with a possible $30,000 prize for the midget crown would double his championship payout to $100,000 for the season. Not to mention, he’s now the proud owner of driving titles in two of USAC’s three national divisions. He already has a midget championship to his credit from 2018 and now has added on a Silver Crown title in 2023. Now he eyes a future sprint car championship in the coming years in order to make him the eighth USAC Triple Crown champion alongside Pancho Carter, Tony Stewart, Dave Darland, J.J. Yeley, Jerry Coons Jr., Tracy Hines and Chris Windom.
“I love the USAC Silver Crown series, I love these racecars and I love everything about it,” Seavey exclaimed. “I’m just super, super happy to finally get one and now we’ve only got one championship left for the Triple Crown. I’ve got the Midget and the Silver Crown, so hopefully in the next year or two, I can go after a sprint car championship and try to grab one of those.”
Elsewhere during the 2023 USAC Silver Crown season, the series made a triumphant return to the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks for the first time since 2015. In the series’ opener, Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) prevailed in a fantastic late race duel with Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), which ended with Grant upside down in the turn one fence.
In May, the Hoosier Hundred returned to the schedule, and was held for the first time on pavement at IRP. Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.) scored the 146-lap, 100-mile victory after Kody Swanson fell out with a mechanical issue while leading on lap 116. The 146-lap distance was the longest in 12 years and the car count of 32 was the largest for a pavement USAC Silver Crown race in 18 years. Santos’ take-home pay of $26,000 was among the most lucrative in series history.
Kody Swanson became the first driver to reach 40 career USAC Silver Crown wins during a summer stretch in which he collected three consecutive victories at Madison, Winchester and Toledo, making it the fourth occasion in which he won at least three consecutive main events with the series. No other driver has more than one such streak.
Davey Hamilton Jr. (Boise, Idaho) and Legacy Autosport became first-time series winners on the same afternoon at WWT Raceway. On top of that, the team’s own in-house Legacy Chassis won its first ever race with the series, becoming the first chassis other than a Beast to win a pavement USAC Silver Crown race since Chet Fillip’s Tex-Mex 15 years earlier at Virginia’s Richmond International Raceway in 2008.
Justin Grant broke an 18-race string without a USAC Silver Crown win when he scored the annual Labor Day weekend Ted Horn 100 in early September at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds. Grant proceeded to become the first driver to win the race from the pole position since Shane Cottle did the deed 16 years earlier in 2007.
Tanner Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) took over the lead from Kody Swanson a quarter of the way through the season finale at IRP to earn a record eighth career USAC Silver Crown victory at IRP, which ranks number one all-time, breaking a tie he had held with his older brother atop the leaderboard.
Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) finished fifth in the Silver Crown standings which propelled her to earning Rookie of the Year honors with the series. By doing so, she became the first woman to be named Rookie of the Year in a USAC National series. Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.) took seventh in points, marking the first time in USAC Silver Crown history that two women have finished inside the top-10 of the series standings.
Russ Gamester (Peru, Ind.) set an all-time record in October at IRP when he made his 213th career Silver Crown start dating back to 1989. Gamester now owns the record for most career series starts, breaking a tie he had held with Brian Tyler.
Logan Seavey and Kody Swanson tied for most wins in the series during the 2023 campaign with three apiece. Both also shared the series lead with nine top-five finishes in 11 series starts. Kody topped the series with 433 laps led and six fast qualifying times while Seavey finished inside the top-10 on a series-leading 10 occasions.
Five drivers started all 11 feature events in 2023: Kaylee Bryson, Trey Burke (Alvin, Texas), Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.), Logan Seavey and Kody Swanson. Chase Dietz (York, Pa.) turned in a performance for the ages in his first career series start at Port Royal, finishing as the runner-up to Seavey.
Two drivers shared the biggest hard charging performance of the season. Series Rookie and longtime sprint car veteran Wayne Johnson (Tuttle, Okla.) advanced 26th to 8th at Du Quoin. Meanwhile, in what was his first Silver Crown start in two years, Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) also went 26th to 8th at Eldora. Courtney’s duties came in a last-minute substitute role when the Chris Dyson Racing team’s driver, Brady Bacon, accidentally spilled methanol in his eye during a fueling mishap in the pits, swelling his eye shut.
A new incentive for lapped cars was implemented for the 2023 USAC Silver Crown season. The first car in the running order that has been lapped was issued an Engler Machine & Tool Fast Pass, granting that team one lap back as long as the car has not pitted or was involved in the most recent caution. Series veteran Dave Berkheimer earned five fast passes throughout the year and collected the $4,000 prize, divided up into $2,000 rewards for both the driver and car owner, which Berkheimer is both.
Trey Osborne (Columbus, Ohio) made his USAC Silver Crown debut in 2023, and can now stake his claim as the tallest driver to ever compete in an event with the series. The 6’8” tall redhead was a quick study, earning hard charger honors in the season finale at IRP when he raced from 19th to 12th.
Tommie Estes Jr., a name that has been a fixture in dirt track racing for over 45 years, was named Competition Director for USAC’s Silver Crown National Championship starting with the 2023 season. Estes had previously served as the Competition Director for both the ASCS National Sprint Tour and the Chili Bowl Nationals. For many years, Estes competed extensively in sprint car and midget racing, including with USAC’s National Midget and Silver Crown divisions and was a frequent competitor at the Chili Bowl and the Belleville Midget Nationals.
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