By Richie Murray
Port Royal, Pennsylvania (June 15, 2023)………Last June, it was quite clear that Logan Seavey loves Port Royal Speedway and Port Royal’s love back to him was requited.
The Sutter, Calif. native’s first ever visit to the Pennsylvania half-mile dirt oval in 2022 resulted in a match made straight out of a storybook.
This Saturday night, June 17, Seavey returns to the scene for the second ever visit by the USAC Silver Crown National Championship to Port Royal in a fascinating doubleheader with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship.
Seavey is one of 33 entries in Port Royal’s Silver Crown arsenal this weekend, a list that’s chockfull of stars, legends, up-and-comers and race winning contenders.
Seavey swept both USAC features that made him the first driver to capture main event wins in the USAC Silver Crown and USAC National Sprint Car divisions on the same day in nearly nine years. And his Silver Crown performance to close out the evening was the stuff made of legends.
On a restart with two to go, Matt Westfall led the initial lap following the lap 49 restart by running through the middle of the racetrack while Seavey committed himself to banging off the outside fence up top. Westfall stayed steady and led Seavey by a single car length as the two crossed under chief starter Warren Alston’s white flag.
Seavey clipped the turn two outside guardrail not once, but twice and possibly three times as he vaulted himself ahead of Westfall midway down the back straightaway. Once Seavey’s rear bumper cleared Westfall’s front bumper, Seavey changed course and headed to the bottom to steal away Westfall’s low line.
Both drivers couldn’t quite hold the grip on the bottom in turn three, and both simultaneously drifted up the track surface in synchronicity. Exiting turn four for the final time, Seavey could finally breathe a sense of relief with the finish line in sight and a two-car length gap separating himself from Westfall at the checkered flag.
THE DIRTY DOZEN
Twelve drivers are expected to pull double duty by crossing over between both the USAC Silver Crown and USAC National Sprint Cars this Saturday at Port Royal as they attempt to repeat Seavey’s feat.
Among the dozen pulling double-duty are Seavey himself as well as Matt Mitchell (Yorba Linda, Calif.), C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.), Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.), Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio), Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) and Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.).
Seventeen drivers in last year’s feature starting lineup return to the fold this Saturday. Besides Seavey, Westfall will make his way back to Port Royal where he led a race-high 30 laps in 2022, finishing second and just narrowly missing out on his first career series win.
Bacon ran third a year ago with Leary fifth. Leary led the first 15 laps and qualified for the pole position by establishing a new track record for the series at Port Royal with a lap of 21.402 seconds. Cottle scored sixth with seven-time Silver Crown champion Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) eighth and local hot shoe Carmen Perigo (Stoystown, Pa.), who earned hard charger honors by advancing from 19th to 10th.
Additional Port Royal Silver Crown returnees come from last year’s last chance qualifying race winner Stockon (12th), Sylvania, Ohio’s Austin Nemire (15th), Sunbury, Pennsylvania’s Mark Smith (16th), Anaheim, California’s Jake Swanson (17th), Pendleton, Indiana’s Travis Welpott (18th), Columbus, New Jersey’s Mark Bitner (19th), Argos, Indiana’s Tom Paterson (21st), 2020 USAC Silver Crown champion Justin Grant and 2022 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year Gregg Cory from Shelbyville, Ind.
The initial entry list showed Emerson Axsom as the driver of the Five Three Motorsports. That particular seat will now be occupied by Steve Buckwalter (Royersford, Pa.) who returns to the series, and the same team for which he drove for, for the first time since 2019.
Buckwalter, a veteran of 26 Silver Crown starts between 2006-2019, nearly won the series round in his home state of Pennsylvania in 2019 until a last lap incident quashed their chances of victory.
Kevin Thomas Jr. had piloted the Five Three Motorsports No. 53 this past May at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks.
Furthermore, Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) intended to return for the event after finishing seventh a year ago but will be absent.
FIRST TIMERS IN THE PALACE
While 16 drivers in this Saturday’s lineup started the Silver Crown race at Port Royal a year ago, 17 more will be attempting to crack their first Port Royal lineup.
Three individuals attempted to make the show in 2022 but missed the cut due to mechanical troubles and/or not transferring out of the qualifying race: Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.), Russ Gamester (Peru, Ind.) and Dave Berkheimer (Mechanicsburg, Pa.).
For 14 others, Port Royal in a Silver Crown machine will be a fully new experience. A ride shuffle has seen Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) take over the seat of the Legacy Autosport No. 19 after Tyler Roahrig stepped away from the dirt side of the series.
The Silver Crown experienced – but new to Port Royal – drivers in the field include Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.), the only woman to finish on the podium of a Silver Crown event, plus Kyle Steffens (St. Charles, Mo.), Trey Burke (Alvin, Texas), Wayne Johnson (Tuttle, Okla.), Chris Fetter (Troy, Mo.) and Patrick Bruns (Champaign, Ill.).
Planning to make their first Silver Crown main event starts of any kind are Matt Mitchell (Yorba Linda, Calif.), Ryan Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.), Joe Trenca (Clay, N.Y.) and Chase Dietz (York, Pa.).
Saturday night’s Eastern Storm/Open Wheel Madness/USAC Eastern Blast features both the USAC Silver Crown National Championship and the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship along with 410 Wing Sprint Cars.
Pits open at 4pm Eastern, front gates open at 4pm and hot laps at 6pm, followed by qualifying and racing. Adult admission tickets are $30, students age 13 to 18 are $15 and children 12 and under will be admitted free. Pit passes are $35 for members and $40 for non-members.
PORT ROYAL USAC SILVER CROWN ENTRY LIST: (33 DRIVERS & CARS)
01 MARK SMITH/Sunbury, PA (L & M Motorsports)
08 KYLE STEFFENS/St. Charles, MO (Gordon Steffens)
4 MARK BITNER/Columbus, NJ (Henry Yeska)
5 (R) MATT MITCHELL/Yorba Linda, CA (DMW Motorsports)
6 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Klatt Enterprises)
9 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (Chris Dyson Racing)
10 JAKE SWANSON/Anaheim, CA (DMW Motorsports)
11 (R) TREY BURKE/Alvin, TX (Davey Hamilton Racing/SRG)
12 (R) WAYNE JOHNSON/Oklahoma City, OK (Two C Racing)
15 CHRIS FETTER/Troy, MO (Chris Fetter)
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
18 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)
19 KEVIN THOMAS JR./Cullman, AL (Legacy Autosport)
22 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports)
26 (R) KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Sam Pierce)
31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)
32 GREGG CORY/Shelbyville, IN (Williams Racing)
51 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (Gamester Racing)
52 CARMEN PERIGO/Stoystown, PA (John Stehman)
53 STEVE BUCKWALTER/Royersford, PA (Five Three Motorsports)
66 JOE TRENCA/Clay, NY (T.J. Karlsen)
69 CHASE STOCKON/Fort Branch, IN (Pink 69 Racing)
74 SHANE COTTLE/Kansas, IL (Hodges Motorsports)
77 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Doran-Binks Racing)
81 MATT WESTFALL/Pleasant Hill, OH (BCR Group)
86 CHASE DIETZ/York, PA (Bruce Lee)
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
92 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Kazmark Motorsports)
95 PATRICK BRUNS/Champaign, IL (Full Throttle Racing)
97 (R) MITCHEL MOLES/Raisin City, CA (Hans Lein)
111 TOM PATERSON/Argos, IN (Tom Paterson)
118 RYAN THOMAS/Indianapolis, IN (Wingo Brothers Racing)
555 TAYLOR FERNS/Shelby Township, MI (Taylor Ferns Racing)
(R) represents a USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year Contender
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC SILVER CROWN AT PORT ROYAL SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap – 6/18/2022 – C.J. Leary – 21.402
50 Laps – 6/18/2022 – Logan Seavey – 31:43.07
PENNSYLVANIA USAC SILVER CROWN WINS:
1-Brady Bacon, Gary Bettenhausen, Shane Cockrum. Shane Cottle, Russ Gamester, Tracy Hines, Jimmy Horton, Kasey Kahne, Keith Kauffman, Sheldon Kinser, Eddie Leavitt, Jason Leffler, Jim McElreath, Kody Swanson, Tyler Walker & Chris Windom
PENNSYLVANIA USAC SILVER CROWN WINNERS:
1971: Jim McElreath (6/20 at Nazareth National Speedway)
1980: Sheldon Kinser (7/5 at Williams Grove Speedway)
1981: Eddie Leavitt (7/5 at Williams Grove Speedway)
1982: Keith Kauffman (12/4 at Nazareth National Motor Speedway)
1983: Gary Bettenhausen (3/26 at Nazareth National Motor Speedway) & Jimmy Horton (7/3 at Nazareth National Motor Speedway)
1999: Jason Leffler (7/17 at Nazareth Speedway)
2000: Tracy Hines (4/8 at Nazareth Speedway)
2001: Russ Gamester (5/5 at Nazareth Speedway)
2003: Kasey Kahne (8/24 at Nazareth Speedway)
2004: Tyler Walker (8/29 at Nazareth Speedway)
2016: Chris Windom (6/10 at Williams Grove Speedway)
2017: Kody Swanson (6/16 at Williams Grove Speedway)
2019: Brady Bacon (6/14 at Williams Grove Speedway)
2020: Shane Cottle (8/9 at Selinsgrove Speedway)
2021: Shane Cockrum (6/18 at Williams Grove Speedway) & Logan Seavey (8/8 at Selinsgrove)
2022: Logan Seavey (6/18 at Port Royal Speedway)
PAST RESULTS FOR USAC SILVER CROWN AT PORT ROYAL SPEEDWAY:
2022 FEATURE: (50 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (6), 2. Matt Westfall (4), 3. Brady Bacon (2), 4. Dallas Hewitt (11), 5. C.J. Leary (1), 6. Shane Cottle (7), 7. Shane Cockrum (10), 8. Kody Swanson (5), 9. Jason McDougal (12), 10. Carmen Perigo (19), 11. Brian Tyler (16), 12. Chase Stockon (17), 13. Brian Ruhlman (15), 14. Jimmy Light (18), 15. Austin Nemire (21), 16. Mark Smith (9), 17. Jake Swanson (3), 18. Travis Welpott (23), 19. Mark Bitner (22), 20. Mike Haggenbottom (20), 21. Tom Paterson (24), 22. Justin Grant (8), 23. Gregg Cory (14), 24. Kyle Robbins (13). 31:43.07