By Richie Murray
Speedway, Indiana (June 6, 2023)………To win an Eastern Storm title is to be the best at your trade in a pressurized situation.
Six races in six nights can be daunting and it can be challenging, but most importantly, it can be rewarding. A select few individuals would be able to provide a testimonial on how this accomplishment immediately became one of the highlights of their career.
A handful of those drivers and crew members have Eastern Storm marked on their calendars each year. And just like clockwork, the month of June rolls in just like the storm of a field of USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars invading Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
All roads lead to the east between June 13-18, 2023, with the best of the best hitting the scene for the 16th edition of the series.
It’s a road that begins at Grandview Speedway on June 13, then takes us to Bridgeport Motorsports Park on June 14, Big Diamond Speedway on June 15, Williams Grove Speedway on June 16, Port Royal Speedway on June 17 and to the series’ first ever appearance at Action Track USA with an appearance points only event to cap off the busy weekend on June 18.
Without further ado, here are the drivers and teams who’ll be heading straight into the eye of the storm in 2023.
BEASTS OF THE EAST
Four previous champions are prepared to take on the challenge that Eastern Storm brings. Robert Ballou (2015 & 2021), Logan Seavey (2022), C.J. Leary (2019) and Brady Bacon (2014) have all previously conquered the week as Eastern Storm champions and will aim to do so once again.
Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) and Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) have each won twice during the season while Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) and Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) are both seeking out victory number one in 2023.
PLEASE COME EAST FOR THE SPRINGTIME
After an eight-year absence, Kyle Cummins will make his return to Eastern Storm for the first time since 2015 as he’s committed to running the entirety of the 2023 USAC National Sprint Car schedule for the initial time in his career.
Three-time Eastern Storm feature winner and reigning USAC National Sprint Car champ Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) will try to lock down his first Eastern Storm title this year as will Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), winner of the most recent USAC National Sprint Car event last Saturday at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway. Meanwhile, three-time Eastern Storm A-Main winner Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) has plans to run the whole Eastern Storm docket as well.
ellow one-time Eastern Storm main event winners Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) and Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) have sights set on adding more to the win column this week. Cottle, who’ll wheel the Hodges Motorsports No. 74x, was an Eastern Storm victor a decade ago in 2013 while Stockon notched the Grandview opener in 2014. Stockon will be one of two full-time entries out of the KO Motorsports stable along with leading series Rookie Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.).
Pursley is among a group making their Eastern Storm debuts in 2023 along with two-time series winner Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.), recent Tri-State Speedway Midwest Sprint Car Series victor Carson Garrett (Littleton, Colo.) and Matt Mitchell (Yorba Linda, Calif.), already a winner on the AMSOIL USAC CRA Sprint Car scene this season at California’s Perris Auto Speedway.
Returning to the Eastern Storm fold for another run in 2023 are past series Rookies of the Year, Franklin, Indiana’s Emerson Axsom (2022) and Worthington, Indiana’s Jadon Rogers (2020), plus USAC National Sprint Car feature winner Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) and USAC Southwest Sprint Car champ Charles Davis Jr. (Buckeye, Ariz.). Additionally, the No. 17GP of Michael Dutcher Motorsports will make the trip east and is seeking its first Eastern Storm win.
EAST COAST CONTINGENT
Also competing throughout the entirety of events on the Eastern Storm slate this time around are several of the top studs from the USAC Rapid Tire East Coast Sprint Cars Presented by Capitol Custom Trailers circuit. Briggs Danner (Allentown, Pa.) is the current series point leader for Hogue Enterprises as well as the reigning USAC EC champ.
Alex Bright (Collegeville, Pa.) has recently taken the helm of the Heffner Racing Enterprises machine and is the 2021 USAC EC champ. Both Danner and Bright finished a career best second during Eastern Storm action a year ago.
Also scheduled for a full Eastern Storm run are Joey Amantea (Mount Pocono, Pa.) and Jason Cherry (Blandon, Pa.). Amantea currently resides third in USAC EC points with Cherry 10th.
PART-TIME & READY FOR A GOOD TIME
Competing in the bulk of the Eastern Storm schedule, but not full-time, are two-time Eastern Storm feature winner Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.), who’ll take part in all but the Port Royal round. Three-time USAC East Coast Sprint Car champ Steven Drevicki (Reading, Pa.) will compete in all rounds but the finale at Action Track USA. Preston Lattomus (Lewes, Del.), who won with USAC EC just two weeks ago, will take on all but Big Diamond.
Also planning to find spot duty throughout Eastern Storm this year are Isaac Chapple (Willow Branch, Ind.), who plans to bounce back after enduring a major crash last weekend at Knoxville. Mario Clouser will compete in multiple events with the miniseries as will Mark Smith (Sunbury, Pa.), Carmen Perigo (Stoystown, Pa.), Ed Aikin (Lincoln University, Pa.), Bobby Butler (Milford, N.J.), Billy Ney (Reading, Pa.), Billy Pauch Jr. (Frenchtown, N.J.) and Troy Fraker (Newville, Pa.), just to name a few.
For more information on each event, visit the “Schedule/Results” tab on www.usacracing.com, then click on “Sprint Cars” and “AMSOIL National.” From there, click on “Event Info” next to the corresponding event on the schedule.
The entire week of events can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3ZjeooQ.
USAC EASTERN STORM CHAMPIONS (2007-2022)
2007: Levi Jones
2008: Cole Whitt
2009: Cole Whitt
2010: Levi Jones
2011: Levi Jones
2012: Bryan Clauson
2013: Bryan Clauson
2014: Brady Bacon
2015: Robert Ballou
2016: Bryan Clauson
2017: Chris Windom
2018: Chris Windom
2019: C.J. Leary
2020: Not Held
2021: Robert Ballou
2022: Logan Seavey
USAC EASTERN STORM FEATURE WINS (2007-2022)
6-Brady Bacon, Bryan Clauson, Levi Jones & Chris Windom
3-Justin Grant, Kevin Thomas Jr. & Cole Whitt
2-Tyler Courtney, Thomas Meseraull & Logan Seavey
1-Chad Boat, Chad Boespflug, Daron Clayton, Shane Cottle, Dave Darland, Bobby East, Damion Gardner, Jesse Hockett, Jason McDougal, Hunter Schuerenberg, Jon Stanbrough, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. & Chase Stockon
(1 SE) Landon Simon
**(SE) represents a non-points, special event feature.