By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Du Quoin, IL – In its brief three-year history, the “Shamrock Classic” has annually been the home of first-time USAC P1 Insurance National Midget feature winners.
In the inaugural running in 2016, it was Shane Golobic. One year ago, it was Justin Grant.
Saturday night’s third annual proved to be no exception as Logan Seavey, in his first USAC start aboard the Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian No. 67, captured the pot of gold at the Southern Illinois Center, leading all 50 laps to score his first career series win in the season opener.
With the departure of 2016 series champ Tanner Thorson, Seavey is and was fully aware of the big shoes he had to fill when he strapped into his new ride. But the 2017 POWRi champ was more than ready to step into the role seamlessly.
“Driving the number 67 is pretty iconic,” Seavey acknowledged. “When you get hired for a job to do, you have to do your job. After the Chili Bowl, I raised my own expectations a lot. We ran really well, and I got comfortable really quickly. I figured we could win some races if everything fell our way, but I didn’t think this would be the place we’d do it. Everything went our way tonight and that’s how it goes sometimes.”
The 1/6-mile indoor dirt track regularly presents a unique set of challenges that make it stand apart from other venues on the schedule. In fact, the stout KKM team only had three of its seven cars qualify for the feature by transferring through the preliminary events Saturday night. As the third-straight first-time series winner in the race, the question comes to mind whether this track has a character that puts all competitors at square one, or whether it’s being in the right equipment at the right time and the right place. Seavey believes each factor play a prominent role.
“I definitely think it’s a little of both,” Seavey agreed. “I don’t know if ‘random’ is the right word, but at this track a lot of really good drivers don’t run very well and a lot of guys that might not run great at other places show up here and run really well.”
A track rework prior to the main event presented a narrow groove at the start of the 50-lapper, which played to Seavey’s benefit as he glued his car to the bottom on corner entry and never let go of his grip, despite a brief foray to the middle as he started to work on lapped traffic.
“One of the first times I got to the lappers, the track was still pretty good, and I thought I had to do something,” Seavey recalled. “I kind of moved up to the middle and Ryan (Robinson) showed me a nose. At that point, I pretty much committed to the bottom. Traditionally here, a lot of times, you’ll start on the bottom and then they’ll jump up to the top. The top just never really cleaned off, built a ledge or anything to hold you. It seemed like you would just fall off and weren’t able to carry any speed up there. After I saw the top wasn’t really cleaning off up there, I just knew as long as I stuck the bottom, and no one did anything really crazy on the top, I was going to be all right.”
With less than 10 laps remaining, Seavey encountered a slew of lapped traffic that briefly threw a wrench in his pursuit of victory. As he, Brent Beauchamp and Zeb Wise ran nose-to-tail, one-two-three, Seavey had a split decision to make, but the Sutter, California native stuck to his guns.
“I knew the laps were winding down, so I knew one of those guys might get antsy and maybe try to move me off the bottom or make a hero lap on the top and get something going,” Seavey recounted. “I knew I just had to make perfect laps, especially the restarts, and nail the bottom of one and two. As long as we went through there clean, I felt like I could get around the bottom as good as anybody. As long as I went through there cleanly, I felt like I was clean until I ran down lapped traffic.”
“I was just watching the lappers and seeing if they were making up any ground on the top and if maybe I’d be able to do it,” Seavey continued. “But any lapper that went up there lost ground, so I figured as long as I stuck to the bottom, I’d much rather see somebody rip around me on the top than me going to the top and letting them pass me on the bottom.”
With three to go, the traffic would clear by virtue of a caution for the stopped cars of Jerry Coons, Jr. and Tony Roney in turn one. That provided Seavey an open racetrack, which he fully took advantage of, immediately opening up an eight car-length lead on Beauchamp once the green flag fell.
“The thing took off so good,” Seavey beamed. “A lot of times, the yellows just fell our way, right when we got to the lappers. They would start to slow us down, but the cautions came out perfectly for us. Sometimes everything goes your way. That’s how it was for us tonight “
Seavey captured the victory ahead of two other drivers seeking their first USAC National Midget win – Beauchamp and fellow Rookie Zeb Wise. Teammate Ryan Robinson was fourth while Justin Grant had to use a provisional, yet managed to charge through the field and finish fifth after starting 21st.
Contingency award winners Saturday night at the Southern Illinois Center include Brent Beauchamp (Simpson Race Products First Qualifier Winner), Dave Darland (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Qualifier Winner, Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Matt Moore (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Terry Babb (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Kyle O’Gara & Tyler Courtney (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfers).
USAC P1 INSURANCE MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: March 10, 2018 – Du Quoin, Illinois – Southern Illinois Center – Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts “Shamrock Classic”
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Terry Babb (#37 Felker), 2. C.J. Leary (#11A Gray), 3. Tony Roney (#1T Roney), 4. Justin Grant (#17BC Clauson/Marshall), 5. Thomas Meseraull (#63 Dooling), 6. Glen Saville (#37T Felker), 7. Jake Neuman (#3N Neuman), 8. Howard Moore (#41 Chappue). NT
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Kyle O’Gara (#67F SFH), 2. Zeb Wise (#39BC Clauson/Marshall), 3. Tyler Nelson (#91 Harris), 4. Zane Hendricks (#27z Tucker/Boat), 5. Mark Chisholm (#56x Fifty6x), 6. Kyle May (#39 May), 7. Joe B. Miller (#51B Neuman), 8. Andy Bradley (#49 Bradley). NT
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Brent Beauchamp (#11 B & B), 2. Gage Walker (#7 Walker), 3. Harli White (#67K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Dave Darland (#68 SFH), 5. Brayton Lynch (#1K RKR), 6. Josh Hawkins (#80 Hawkins), 7. Sam Johnson (#72 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 8. Colten Cottle (#37x Felker). NT
FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Ryan Robinson (#71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Chad Boat (#84 Tucker/Boat), 3. Tucker Klaasmeyer (#27 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (#15 Petry/Goff), 5. Daniel Robinson (#57D McCreery), 6. Daniel Adler (#50 Adler), 7. Robert Bell (71½ Bell). NT
FIFTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Logan Seavey (#67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Jerry Coons, Jr. (#25 Petry/Goff), 3. Tyler Courtney (#7BC Clauson/Marshall), 4. Chris Andrews (#95 Miller), 5. Kory Schudy (#28 Sawyer), 6. Tony Lawrence (#45 Lawrence). NT
SIXTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Tyler Thomas (#91T Thomas), 2. Tanner Carrick (#71K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 3. Wesley Smith (#44 Smith), 4. Matt Moore (#9 Hergott), 5. Ryan Hall (#2 Bush), 6. Spencer Bayston (#97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Brady Bacon (#76m FMR). NT
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Beauchamp, 2. Neuman, 3. R. Robinson, 4. Carrick, 5. Klaasmeyer, 6. Hall, 7. Boat, 8. Schudy, 9. Bayston, 10. Johnson, 11. Meseraull. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Seavey, 3. Bacon, 4. H. Moore, 5. Nelson, 6. Courtney, 7. Hendricks, 8. May, 9. Grant, 10. Saville, 11. Smith. NT
CHALK STIX THIRD QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. K. Thomas, 2. Leary, 3. T. Thomas, 4. Roney, 5. Walker, 6. Babb, 7. Miller, 8. Chisholm, 9. Lynch, 10. Bradley. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. M. Moore, 2. Andrews, 3. Wise, 4. Coons, 5. D. Robinson, 6. Hawkins, 7. R. Bell, 8. O’Gara, 9. Lawrence, 10. White, 11. C. Cottle. 2:18.22 (New Track Record)
FIRST SEMI: (15 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Leary, 2. Boat, 3. Neuman, 4. Babb, 5. O’Gara, 6. H. Moore, 7. White, 8. Chisholm, 9. Johnson, 10. Miller, 11. Cottle, 12. Smith, 13. Klaasmeyer, 14. Bradley, 15. Lynch, 16. Bell. NT
SECOND SEMI: (15 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Roney, 2. D. Robinson, 3. Bacon, 4. Hawkins, 5. Courtney, 6. Saville, 7. May, 8. Bayston, 9. Meseraull, 10. Lawrence, 11. Hendricks, 12. Schudy, 13. Grant, 14. May, 15. Greth, 16. Andrews. NT
FEATURE: (50 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (1), 2. Brent Beauchamp (2), 3. Zeb Wise (9), 4. Ryan Robinson (4), 5. Justin Grant (21), 6. Dave Darland (3), 7. Chad Boat (14), 8. Gage Walker (8), 9. Terry Babb (18), 10. Daniel Robinson (15), 11. Tanner Carrick (10), 12. Jake Neuman (16), 13. Matt Moore (5), 14. Brady Bacon (17), 15. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (11), 16. Spencer Bayston (20), 17. Jerry Coons, Jr. (7), 18. Tony Roney (13), 19. Tyler Thomas (22), 20. Tyler Nelson (6), 21. Josh Hawkins (19), 22. C.J. Leary (12). NT
**Chisholm flipped during the first heat. Chisholm flipped during the third qualifier. Bradley flipped during the third qualifier. Hawkins flipped on lap 32 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-50 Seavey.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS/PROSOURCE HARD CHARGER: Terry Babb (18th to 9th)
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Kyle O’Gara & Tyler Courtney
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Matt Moore
NEW USAC P1 INSURANCE MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Seavey-70, 2-Wise-64, 3-R. Robinson-61, 4-Grant-58, 5-Darland-55, 6-Boat-52, 7-Walker-49, 8-Carrick-41, 9-Neuman-39, 10-M. Moore-37.
NEXT USAC P1 INSURANCE MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: April 13-14 – Kokomo, Indiana – Kokomo Speedway – “Kokomo Grand Prix”