Yet Another Way to Win
Columbus, IN - Night One of the 2020 edition of Indiana Sprint Week gave the fans all they wanted--namely another wild and woolly finish which the Gas City I-69 Speedway has become known for providing. This one was no exception as Logan Seavey fended off the challenges of several contenders before emerging from the drama with a well-earned victory.
The initial ISW pit stroll had the usual suspects plus a few new or different combinations. Wyatt Burks, from Kansas, had headed east to try his luck with the USAC boys. Jadon Rogers was in the seat normally occupied by Stephen Schnapf. Thomas Meseraull had landed in the Tony Epperson car. Tyler Thomas and Mike Dutcher teamed up, hoping for some more good runs. And Shane Cockrum was in the Wingo brothers’ wagon most recently wheeled by Critter Malone.
In the Long-Time-No-See Department tonight it was Dr. Tom, who has finally joined me in retirement, bless his heart. Between his face shield and my checkered flag design mask, we must have looked like a pair of over-the-hill bank robbers. Brent Goodnight was among the celebrities in Jerry Gappens’ playground, but many others were missing, if not hiding from me.
Justin Grant led all qualifiers, the only contestant to turn a sub-12 second lap—11.859.
Kyle Cummins made a late charge to win the first heat. Pole sitter Brandon Mattox, A. J. Hopkins and Kevin Thomas Jr. all moved on. Grant spun while fighting for a transfer spot and headed to the B.
Brady Bacon was the second heat winner with Logan Seavey, Dave Darland and Thomas Meseraull all transferring.
For the time being, the bottom of turns one and two looked to be the quickest while the top of three and four were popular.
In the third heat, Robert Ballou held off Chris Windom to take the win. C. J. Leary was third ahead of Shane Cottle, who came from eighth to land in the feature.
For the final heat, Chase Stockon had the up and down experience as he came from sixth to take the lead early only to slip in turn four. Jarett Andretti was there to capitalize and grab the win. Stockon led Tyler Thomas and Dustin Smith to the checkered.
Kyle Robbins led Jadon Rogers, Shane Cockrum and Max Guilford to the checkered in the C main. All would come from the tail in the B.
It was no shock that Justin Grant won the B. Carson Short, Matt Westfall, Wyatt Burks, KRob and Clinton Boyles followed with Robbins advancing from the C to the big show on his birthday, no less.
Seavey and Windom led the gang to the line with the Californian taking the lead. When Windom slipped a bit over the turn four banking, K. Thomas was quick to pounce and give Seavey fits working the bottom as Windom fell back. It would get worse from there for him.
The yellow waved on lap 12 for a turn four caucus involving Leary, Bacon and T. Thomas. Bacon re-started and the other two returned to the fray after a work area visit. The re-start was a brief one as Windom, Ballou and Hopkins had their own conference with A.J. sustaining too much damage to continue. The other two went to the work area and rejoined the pack, though Robert went back to the pits not long after re-entering the track.
Seavey led K. Thomas, Grant, Stockon and Cummins as the yellow waved again, this time for a stopped Dave Darland. In the brief interval, Cummins didn’t waste time. He used the high side to pass Grant and Stockon. The fourth yellow flag in six laps waved on lap 17 when both the infield cone and the NOS Energy can were hit and landed on the track.
What followed was the race’s longest and best segment. K. Thomas went low and traded the lead with Seavey, who stuck with the top side, lap after lap. On laps 19 and 21, KT was credited with the lead. Then came the moment that changed the race’s outcome.
With the top two running side by side for several laps, they approached lapped traffic as the laps wound down. The soon to be lapped car of Jadon Rogers was holding his line at the bottom. The white flag waved, and the two leaders made it three wide going into turn three. Contact was made—I don’t know who initiated it and it doesn’t really matter—and KT’s car got some air but didn’t quite flip. Seavey kept going as the red flag came out.
Seavey got his top spot back, but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. Before the red, Stockon had been on the move. He had passed Grant and now would re-start second for a green/white/checkered finish. It was possibly shaping up for a second straight close finish at Gas City like last year’s which saw Shane Cottle edge C.J. Leary for the win. Would it happen again?
As it turned out, no, it wouldn’t happen again, even though Stockon tried his best, coming up about a half second short. At the end it was Seavey, Stockon, Grant, Cummins and Meseraull, who had come from 13th to finish fifth. Short started 12th and ended up sixth while Cottle rumbled from 21st to take seventh and earn the KSE Racing Products / The Frolic Bar & Grill Hard Charger dinero. Andretti was ninth and Westfall. Last week’s Gas City winner came from 16th to take tenth.
This added up to three of the last five Gas City/ISW features that were top notch with Tyler Courtney’s last to first drive of 2016 still the gold standard.
There wasn’t much to do now except organize my notes and watch the traffic leave the pits. About a half hour after Logan Seavey had been interviewed, I ambled out to the little white truck. It was time to head east to Kokomo, following Justin Grant’s TOPP team. I listened to a Malcolm Gladwell podcast as I followed the TOPP crew and admired the half-moon that adorned the western sky. Again, I was reminded how flat the land is up here. I could do without the hills of southern Indiana for another night—especially since it would be spent at the Kokomo Speedway for Round Two.
Passing my own cognitive test by reciting correctly Gas City, Kokomo, Lawrenceburg, Terre Haute, Lincoln Park, Bloomington and Haubstadt, I'm..