By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
SPRINGFIELD, IL – You can’t win all day if you don’t start in the morning.
Logan Seavey made that his mantra on Saturday as he kicked off his day by winning the 60th running of the Bettenhausen 100 Presented By Hunt Brothers Pizza at the Illinois State Fairgrounds dirt mile.
Later that same night, the Sutter, Calif. native capped the evening with a USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship victory 44 miles down the road at Macon Speedway to become just the third driver to win multiple USAC National feature events in a single day at two different tracks: Billy Vukovich (1967) and J.J. Yeley (2004).
However, throughout much of the Bettenhausen 100, Seavey stared directly at the tail tank of the No. 9 driven by Shane Cottle. Nonetheless, a late caution and subsequent restart with 13 laps to go, completely changed the ballgame for Seavey.
That’s when Seavey took advantage of the late caution, using a reverse slide job entering turn one that saw Seavey race around the outside of Cottle before diving to the inside guardrail with pinpoint precision at the forefront of the field.
The maneuver was painfully costly for Cottle, but perfectly cromulent for Seavey who finished off the afternoon with his first career victory on the Springfield Mile in his Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing/STIDA.com – CG CPAs – Indy Custom Stone/DRC/Felker Chevy.
Seavey now becomes the 27th driver to win champ car races on both Illinois dirt miles in his career after previously notching the round at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds just less than a year ago in September of 2022.
All in all, Seavey’s performances on the dirt tracks in USAC Silver Crown competition have been superb. He’s now won five of the past seven dating back to June of 2022, and has captured each of the last two events on dirt tracks this season after also winning in June at Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway.
To start the day, Seavey set the tone by recording his first career fast qualifying time with the USAC Silver Crown series. His lap of 31.317 seconds in time trials translated to an average speed of 114.954 mph, which placed him squarely on the pole position for the 100-miler.
That said, it was outside front row starter Emerson Axsom who gained the initial upper hand by leading the first lap. On the second go-around, Seavey powered past Axsom on the outside with a deep drive into turn three that secured him the lead for the next 40 miles.
The first stoppage of the day came on lap 16 when Shane Cockrum’s valiant early race charge from 20th to 12th was thwarted by a broken throttle pedal. Cockrum, the defending Bettenhausen 100 winner, was wheeling a second car owned by Sam Pierce. His original ride, the BLS Motorsports No. 71, suffered a blown engine during practice.
Cottle, eying his first career win at the Springfield Mile, was surging just prior to the midway point. On lap 42, Seavey and Cottle were negotiating with the soon-to-be lapped car of Chris Fetter. Cottle found an opening on the bottom rail, then poked his nose to the inside of Seavey entering turn one. Still even by the time they reached turn two, Cottle throttled past Seavey moments later to take over up front, and his lead was pronounced even more so when Seavey momentarily slid high, kicking up copious amounts of Illinois State Fairgrounds soil as he slipped and slid through turn three.
By lap 65, Cottle’s advantage of more than a second had dwindled to zilch as Seavey closed in right to the back bumper of Cottle in the tuns as lapped traffic remained in close proximity. Cottle worked by Patrick Bruns in turn four, putting him a lap down, giving him a wave and a gesture as he zipped by. In the process, Cottle opened the can on his lead to 2.195 seconds with a clear track ahead of him and nary another potential lapped car in his immediate sight.
However, when ninth running C.J. Leary coasted to a stop with a blown engine on lap 82, Cottle’s commanding two second lead was deleted. The first shot at an ensuing restart on lap 86 was called back due to Cottle’s early jumping of the gun. The second shot at the same restart on lap 88, as it turned out, became the deciding factor of the race.
Cottle, it appeared initially, got exactly the restart he needed with a five-car length gap between he and Seavey just before the entry to turn one. The complexion immediately changed as Seavey steered deep into turn one to overtake Cottle, then spontaneously took his ride to the inner rail to swipe the bottom line and the race lead with just 13 laps remaining.
“I knew I could get into one faster than he could,” Seavey explained. “I could see on the restarts that he was being a little extra cautious. You lose a lot of grip when your tires cool off and it takes a few laps to get it back. I knew I could fire it in there and I didn’t know if it was going to stick or not, but I knew I could at least get next to him. I got it backed in right across his nose and I was able to stay in front of him.”
Seavey methodically inched away lap-after-lap down the stretch until his lead of 1.6 seconds vanished with two laps remaining when 22nd running Travis Welpott tagged the turn three outside wall, presenting a green-white-checkered solution to decide the race between Seavey and Cottle.
The situation presented an even match between the two frontrunners and just two laps to decide their racing fates, all of which came along with a little strategy rolled up in Seavey’s sleeve.
“I feel like we were so even,” Seavey stated in comparison to Cottle. “He could run a little bit harder and get away, then I could run hard and get back to him. When you’re leading, you can kind of drag around the rail and dirty the track up and it makes it so hard to close that last couple car lengths. It’s just how this racing is.”
Despite the tightening up of the field, Seavey wasn’t about to give an inch or a yard to Cottle during the final two-lap run. When all was said and down, Seavey became a first-time Bettenhausen 100 winner by a 1.094 second margin over Cottle with 2017 race winner Justin Grant third, 2014-15-21 winner Kody Swanson fourth and race Rookie Emerson Axsom fifth.
As far as Seavey, he has now clicked off dirt mile wins at both Illinois facilities. Just as it was at Du Quoin on a sunny afternoon last September, priority number one is to be there at the end of the race and in a position to make a move when it counts. Seavey found himself right in that sweet spot once again on Saturday at the Springfield Mile.
“I feel like a lot of it is just feeling good in the rubber and having a balanced car in the rubber and not burning your right front off, and not burning your right rear off,” Seavey laid out. “For as hard as I felt like I ran for 50 or 60 laps, our tires looked pretty good. That just shows how good Ronnie (Gardner) has this car balanced. A.J. Felker’s got this engine running just perfectly. We made a few changes right before the race and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I could do whatever I needed to. I could drag around the rail and I could drive around guys on the outside. I’m feeling really confident driving this thing and that’s half the battle.”
For Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.), it was a bitter pill to swallow after leading 46 laps in his first ride aboard the Chris Dyson Racing/Concord American Flagpole – Macri Concrete – Racer Magazine/Maxim/Ott Chevy. For Cottle, it was his second consecutive second place result at the Bettenhausen 100, narrowly missing out on his first Springfield win.
“(On the final restart) I was just hoping I could make up for my screw up that I did getting into turn one there when I let him pass me,” Cottle reflected. “I let the crew down and we had a really good car. I’m just really pissed off right now.”
For Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), the third-place result was his best finish of the 2023 USAC Silver Crown season in his Hemelgarn Racing/NOS Energy Drink – Super Fitness – Nick Bohanon LLC/DRC/Foxco Chevy.
Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.) made the biggest move of the day, racing from her 26th starting position to a 12th place finish in her Taylor Ferns Racing/Bradford Allen – Mobil 1 – Motorsports Safety Group/Beast/Stanton Mopar. This day marked her first USAC Silver Crown start at the Illinois State Fairgrounds since a decade ago in 2013 as a 16-year-old.
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 19, 2023 – Illinois State Fairgrounds – Springfield, Illinois – 1-Mile Dirt Oval – 60th Bettenhausen 100 Presented By Hunt Brothers Pizza
HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: (Top-24 locked into the feature) 1. Logan Seavey, 22, Rice/Abacus-31.317; 2. Emerson Axsom, 20, Nolen-31.341; 3. Mario Clouser, 92, Kazmark-31.462; 4. Shane Cottle, 9, Dyson-31.487; 5. Jacob Wilson, 07, WBR-31.531; 6. Chase Dietz, 86, Lee-31.539; 7. Wayne Johnson, 12, Two C-31.727; 8. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-31.769; 9. Davey Ray, 8, Cornell-31.796; 10. Kody Swanson, 177, Doran/Binks-31.797; 11. Chris Urish, 77, Urish-31.863; 12. C.J. Leary, 6, Klatt-31.873; 13. Mitchel Moles, 97, Lein-31.911; 14. Trey Burke, 11, Hamilton/SRG-31.992; 15. Matt Westfall, 81, BCR-32.010; 16. Kyle Steffens, 08, Steffens-32.116; 17. Jake Swanson, 10, DMW-32.226; 18. Jerry Coons Jr., 24, Haggenbottom-32.239; 19. Chase Stockon, 69, Pink 69-32.268; 20. Shane Cockrum, 126, Pierce-32.294; 21. Carmen Perigo, 52, Stehman-32.299; 22. Steven Russell, 14, McQuinn-32.308; 23. Patrick Bruns, 95, Full Throttle-32.345; 24. Casey Buckman, 25, C-Buck/Sachs-32.499; 25. Kaylee Bryson, 26, Pierce-32.500; 26. Taylor Ferns, 555, Ferns-32.673; 27. Patrick Lawson, 2, Lawson-32.712; 28. Korey Weyant, 99, Weyant-32.739; 29. Chris Fetter, 15, Fetter-32.758; 30. Russ Gamester, 51, Gamester-32.828; 31. Matt Mitchell, 5, DMW-33.302; 32. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott-33.347; 33. Danny Long, 44, Long-34.102; 34. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-34.963; 35. Tim Simmons, 3, Simmons-35.426; 36. John Tosti, 07, Tosti-37.301; 37. Tom Paterson, 111, Paterson-41.378; 38. A.J. Fike, 53, FTM-NT; 39. Ryan Thomas, 118, Wingo-NT; 40. Shane Cockrum, 71, BLS-NT.
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS QUALIFYING RACE: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Kaylee Bryson, 2. Taylor Ferns, 3. Korey Weyant, 4. Russ Gamester, 5. Travis Welpott, 6. Chris Fetter, 7. Matt Mitchell, 8. Dave Berkheimer, 9. Tim Simmons, 10. Danny Long, 11. John Tosti, 12. Patrick Lawson. NT
FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (1), 2. Shane Cottle (4), 3. Justin Grant (8), 4. Kody Swanson (10), 5. Emerson Axsom (2), 6. Jacob Wilson (5), 7. Davey Ray (9), 8. Mario Clouser (3), 9. Chase Dietz (6), 10. Jerry Coons Jr. (18), 11. Matt Westfall (15), 12. Taylor Ferns (26), 13. Chase Stockon (19), 14. Russ Gamester (28), 15. Casey Buckman (24), 16. Steven Russell (22), 17. Chris Urish (11), 18. Kaylee Bryson (25), 19. Patrick Bruns (23), 20. Dave Berkheimer (31-P), 21. Mitchel Moles (13), 22. Chris Fetter (30), 23. Travis Welpott (29), 24. C.J. Leary (12), 25. Kyle Steffens (16), 26. Carmen Perigo (21), 27. Wayne Johnson (7), 28. Jake Swanson (17), 29. Korey Weyant (27), 30. Trey Burke (14), 31. Shane Cockrum (20). NT
(P) represents a provisional starter
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Emerson Axsom, Laps 2-41 Logan Seavey, Laps 42-87 Shane Cottle, Laps 88-100 Logan Seavey.
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Kody Swanson-445, 2-Logan Seavey-429, 3-Mario Clouser-307, 4-Justin Grant-299, 5-Kaylee Bryson-292, 6-Taylor Ferns-279, 7-Matt Westfall-274, 8-C.J. Leary-266, 9-Bobby Santos-248, 10-Travis Welpott-214.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Daison Pursley-145, 2-Logan Seavey-94, 3-Shane Cottle-83, 4-Matt Westfall-83, 5-Robert Ballou-81, 6-Brady Bacon-77, 7-Justin Grant-75, 8-Chase Stockon-69, 9-Emerson Axsom-66, 10-C.J. Leary-51.
NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: August 27, 2023 – World Wide Technology Raceway – Madison, Illinois – 1.25-Mile Paved Oval – OutFront 100
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Practice Fastest Driver: Justin Grant (30.090)
Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifier: Logan Seavey (31.317)
Hard Charger: Taylor Ferns (26th to 12th)