By Richie Murray
Gas City, Indiana (July 24, 2020)………Friday night’s introduction to the 2020 edition of NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week at Gas City I-69 Speedway produced one of the wildest finishes in the 33-year history of the series, punctuated by a memorable duel between Logan Seavey and Kevin Thomas Jr. that truly defined the fine line between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Competing for nearly the entirety of the second half of the 30-lap feature side-by-side for the lead, Seavey and Thomas tangled in turn three while working their past a lapped car, sending both of the frontrunners over the turn three cushion. Thomas’ car came to a stop while Seavey motored on without stopping, bent draglink and all.
Thereon, Seavey finished off the victory in a green-white-checkered battle with Chase Stockon to collect his first career ISW victory and his second in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition aboard the Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical – Mesilla Valley Transportation/Spike/Fisher Chevy.
“Happy to finally get a win,” Seavey exhaled. “We finally found the balance and the confidence tonight early, and that’s what I needed. We made a big mid-week decision to stick with what we have. We’ve been struggling all year and we’re debating on getting a new racecar. I talked to the boys and I told them I was confident in the racecar we got right now. I thought we could win with this car and we finally came out and proved it tonight.”
Sutter, California’s Seavey started his race from the pole position, but endured an early onslaught from outside front row starter Chris Windom who slid past Seavey for the spot momentarily in turn three before Seavey cut back under to preserve the lead on the opening lap.
On the third lap, Windom biked hard atop the third turn cushion, very nearly toppling over before landing back on all fours and driving on, although it dropped him from 2nd to 10th in the running order, thus elevating Thomas to the runner-up spot with Seavey showing the way up front. It didn’t take long for Thomas to track down Seavey, however, utilizing the bottom of the quarter-mile’s surface while Seavey worked the middle groove.
A caution on the 13th lap involving 4th running C.J. Leary, 5th place Brady Bacon and the 7th car in the order, Tyler Thomas, at the exit of turn four, took out several prime contenders. Chase Stockon, running 6th at the time, managed to eke through the melee like a Plinko ball, putting some cosmetic damage on the rear end of his car.
The ensuing restart saw an immediate halt to the action with Windom (7th), Robert Ballou (8th) and A.J. Hopkins (12th) all getting ensnared in a turn one kerfuffle. Only Windom out of the bunch returned to competition, finishing 11th.
Once racing resumed, it became a non-stop duel between Seavey and Thomas that, in a four-lap span between laps 19 and 22, saw the pair exchange the lead four times officially at the line. The two alternated big runs on the top (Seavey) and bottom (Thomas) with neither separating themselves by much further than a single car length.
“I saw his nose basically the whole race,” Seavey recalled. “I knew I really needed to get by that first lapped car but anytime I’d get close, I’d make a mistake and let KT back on a run. I felt like we were side-by-side for the whole second half of the race and I knew I just needed to get it going up top. Anytime I felt like I gained a little momentum and got an edge on him, I’d make a mistake.”
Seavey took back the lead on lap 22, and at moments, was able to extend the advantage to three or four car lengths over Thomas. Despite trying the bottom in the earlier stages, Seavey decided to marry himself to the high line and knew that if he didn’t make any mistakes off turn two like he did earlier in the race, he’d be golden, but it was going to take near perfection by one or the other down the stretch to capitalize on any misstep, no matter how slight it might have been.
Seavey led at the stripe on the white flag lap by a half-car length as he and Thomas approached the car of Jadon Rogers in the 19th position at the tail end of the lead lap. Rogers was glued to the bottom just as the rapidly approaching Thomas was behind him.
Exiting turn two, Thomas had one of two decisions to make – either follow Rogers into turn three or try to split to the outside in front of Seavey. Thomas chose the latter, then chaos ensued. The end result saw contact on entry between Thomas’ right rear and Seavey’s left front wheel, sending Thomas careening airborne over the top of the turn three cushion and Seavey spinning toward the guardrail. While Thomas stopped, Seavey miraculously kept his ride off the guardrail and continued on.
“(Thomas) got that big run off the bottom getting in,” Seavey remembered. “He knew he had to slide me, and I knew I had to beat him out of four. He got across the racetrack a lot faster than I thought he would. I was trying to turn down and it was way too late by that point. I have no idea how I drove away from it. I’m not really sure how we didn’t turn over or land in the pits. That’s where I thought I was going.”
Meanwhile, for Thomas, one of his better runs of the year ended in heartbreak as he sought his first series victory of the year.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) captured Friday night’s NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week opener at Gas City I-69 Speedway.
(David Nearpass Photo)
“We had the lapped car on the bottom and my only shot was to squeeze up to the top getting into three,” Thomas explained. “I got a decent run, but I don’t think good enough. He got a good run too, but I couldn’t really see him going down the back stretch. I tried to give room but tried to slide a little bit too. I just made contact and screwed myself.”
With the contact nearly turning Thomas over amidst the cloud of dust, the red flag was displayed. By rule, once the red flag was displayed for Thomas, the 360-spin rule was no longer in effect for Seavey. Thus, Seavey was positioned back at the front of the field for the restart with two laps remaining.
“I knew my draglink was a little bent,” Seavey admitted. “My steering wheel was a little sideways. I know that’s just kind of a comfort thing. I knew everything was going to be fine.”
Everything turned out fine for Seavey, the 2018 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champion, who then had to withstand the challenge of 2015 Gas City ISW winner Chase Stockon. Stockon pulled even with Seavey exiting turn two on the restart and was just a car length behind Seavey at the line on the bottom.
On the final lap, Stockon didn’t quite get the drive he strove for off turn two while Seavey nailed the top to surge ahead and capture the victory by three car lengths – 0.472 sec. – over Stockon, Justin Grant, Kyle Cummins and Thomas Meseraull.
Meanwhile, the previous year’s Gas City ISW winner, Shane Cottle, secured the KSE Racing Products / The Frolic Bar & Grill Hard Charger of the night, finishing 7th after starting 21st.
USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader Justin Grant earned Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifying honors Friday at Gas City, the 25th of his career, which moved him ahead of past series champions Gary Bettenhausen and J.J. Yeley for 16th on the all-time list.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 24, 2020 – Gas City I-69 Speedway – Gas City, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval – NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT ONE: 1. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-11.859; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-12.049; 3. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-12.330; 4. Logan Seavey, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-12.345; 5. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-12.403; 6. Thomas Meseraull, 2E, Epperson-12.438; 7. Wyatt Burks, 11w, Burks-12.456;; 8. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-12.532; 9. A.J. Hopkins, 04, Burton-12.549; 10. Anthony D’Alessio, 01, D’Alessio-12.596; 11. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-12.601; 12. Dave Darland, 36d, EZR/Curb-Agajanian-12.603; 13. Zack Pretorius, 9z, Pretorius-12.607; 14. Charles Davis Jr., 47, Davis-12.647; 15. Ben Knight, 16K, Knight-12.650; 16. Ryan Barr, 21B, Barr-12.702; 17. Jadon Rogers, 61m, Edwards-12.773; 18. Kurt Gross, 1x, Gross-12.841; 19. Scotty Weir, 22, Goodnight-12.886; 20. Jerry Coons Jr., 5, Baldwin-12.906; 21. Dustin Clark, 75, Clark-12.982; 22. Chayse Hayhurst, 20, Hayhurst-13.123; 23. Jack James, 99, James-13.235; 24. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-13.567.
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT TWO: 1. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-12.536; 2. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-12.626; 3. Chris Windom, 19, Hayward-12.724; 4. Tyler Thomas, 17GP, Dutcher-12.752; 5. Carson Short, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-12.761; 6. Dennis Gile, 13, Gile-12.766; 7. Clinton Boyles, 57, Hazen-12.885, 8. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-12.886; 9. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-12.908; 10. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-12.988; 11. Dakota Jackson, 17, On The Gass-13.018; 12. Dustin Smith, 77, LG-13.021; 13. Mitchell Davis, 56, Davis-13.031; 14. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-13.049; 15. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-13.082; 16. Max Guilford, 79BT, Goodnight-13.098; 17. Kyle Robbins, 17R, KR-13.184; 18. Shane Cockrum, 77c, Wingo-13.304; 19. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 51T, Tafoya-13.329; 20. Brayden Fox, 53, Fox-13.433; 21. Chris Phillips, 6p, Phillips-13.514; 22. Max Adams, 5m, Adams-13.613; 23. Logan Hupp, 69JM, Gindling-13.752; 24. Chase Johnson, 68, Thomas-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Brandon Mattox, 3. A.J. Hopkins, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Wyatt Burks, 6. Ben Knight, 7. Zack Pretorius, 8. Scotty Weir, 9. Justin Grant, 10. Jadon Rogers, 11. Jack James, 12. Dustin Clark. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Matt Westfall, 6. Jerry Coons Jr., 7. Ryan Barr, 8. Charles Davis Jr., 9. Chayse Hayhurst, 10. Kurt Gross, 11. Robert Bell, 12. Anthony D’Alessio. NT
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Chris Windom, 3. C.J. Leary, 4. Shane Cottle, 5. Carson Short, 6. Dakota Jackson, 7. Clinton Boyles, 8. Kyle Robbins, 9. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 10. Chris Phillips, 11. Logan Hupp, 12. Mitchell Davis. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Jarett Andretti, 2. Chase Stockon, 3. Tyler Thomas, 4. Dustin Smith, 5. Chase Johnson, 6. Shane Cockrum, 7. Matt Goodnight, 8. Max Adams, 9. Dennis Gile, 10. Brayden Fox, 11. Max Guilford, 12. Sterling Cling. NT
C-MAIN: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi) 1. Kyle Robbins, 2. Jadon Rogers, 3. Shane Cockrum, 4. Max Guilford, 5. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 6. Scotty Weir, 7. Brayden Fox, 8. Chase Johnson, 9. Jerry Coons Jr., 10. Chris Phillips, 11. Ryan Barr, 12. Max Adams, 13. Chayse Hayhurst, 14. Logan Hupp, 15. Jack James, 16. Robert Bell, 17. Dustin Clark, 18. Kurt Gross. NT
INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Carson Short, 3. Matt Westfall, 4. Wyatt Burks, 5. Kyle Robbins, 6. Clinton Boyles, 7. Dennis Gile, 8. Shane Cockrum, 9. Jadon Rogers, 10. Matt Goodnight, 11. Ben Knight, 12. Charles Davis Jr., 13. Sterling Cling, 14. Zack Pretorius, 15. Max Guilford, 16. Mitchell Davis. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (1), 2. Chase Stockon (4), 3. Justin Grant (10), 4. Kyle Cummins (7), 5. Thomas Meseraull (13), 6. Carson Short (12), 7. Shane Cottle (21), 8. Brady Bacon (5), 9. Jarett Andretti (8), 10. Matt Westfall (16), 11. Chris Windom (2), 12. Tyler Thomas (11), 13. C.J. Leary (6), 14. Clinton Boyles (15), 15. Brandon Mattox (18), 16. Dustin Smith (20), 17. Wyatt Burks (14), 18. Kyle Robbins (22), 19. Jadon Rogers (24), 20. Kevin Thomas Jr. (3), 21. Dave Darland (19), 22. Robert Ballou (9), 23. A.J. Hopkins (17), 24. Robert Bell (23). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-18 Logan Seavey, Lap 19 Kevin Thomas Jr., Lap 20 Logan Seavey, Lap 21 Kevin Thomas Jr., Laps 22-30 Logan Seavey.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-818, 2-Brady Bacon-730, 3-Chris Windom-722, 4-Chase Stockon-719, 5-C.J. Leary-696, 6-Kevin Thomas Jr.-655, 7-Carson Short-653, 8-Dave Darland-549, 9-Brandon Mattox-504, 10-Logan Seavey-433.
INDIANA SPRINT WEEK POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-80, 2-Chase Stockon-74, 3-Justin Grant-74, 4-Kyle Cummins-71, 5-Thomas Meseraull-64, 6-Brady Bacon-62, 7-Carson Short-58, 8-Shane Cottle-57, 9-Jarett Andretti-54, 10-Chris Windom-48.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-67, 2-Tanner Thorson-58, 3-Logan Seavey-54, 4-Justin Grant-48, 5-Andrew Layser-44, 6-Daison Pursley-42, 7-Jerry Coons Jr.-33, 8-Thomas Meseraull-32, 9-Cannon McIntosh-32, 10-Robert Dalby-32.
INDIANA SPRINT WEEK PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Shane Cottle-14, 2-Thomas Meseraull-8, 3-Justin Grant-7, 4-Carson Short-6, 5-Matt Westfall-6, 6-Dustin Smith-4, 7-Kyle Robbins-4, 8-Kyle Cummins-3, 9-Brandon Mattox-3, 10-Chase Stockon.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 25, 2020 – Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval – NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Justin Grant
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Kyle Cummins
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Brady Bacon
AutoMeter Third Heat Winner: Robert Ballou
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Jarett Andretti
Indy Metal Finishing Semi Winner: Justin Grant
KSE Racing Products / The Frolic Bar & Grill Hard Charger: Shane Cottle (21st to 7th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: C.J. Leary
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Dennis Gile
Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier: Dave Darland
Jim Spridgeon / Rich Murray Hard Work Award: Kyle Robbins