By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Bakersfield, California (November 14, 2023)………Logan Seavey remembers it well.
The last time the Sutter, Calif. native won the November Classic at California’s Bakersfield Speedway in 2018, it cemented his USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship hopes and aspirations.
Five years later, at the very same 1/3-mile clay oval, the current series point leader’s second victory at Bakersfield on Tuesday night brought him one step and one race closer to wrapping up a second career series title.
The ninth place starting Seavey tracked down racelong leader Emerson Axsom with nine circuits remaining in the 30-lapper to earn the seventh victory of his magical USAC National Midget season in his Abacus Racing/Honest Abe Roofing - Indy Custom Stone - Laura Kopetsky Tri-Ax/Spike/Stanton SR-11x.
Seavey’s 15th career USAC National Midget victory moved him inside the top-50 all-time on the series win list alongside Don Branson, Larry Rice and Chris Windom.
The occasion was made doubly special with the sky-blue No. 57 paint scheme Seavey was sporting in tribute to Abacus Racing crewman Johnny Cofer who had the car revealed to him in surprising fashion at the team’s Noblesville, Ind. shop last Wednesday.
Cofer himself drove a sky-blue No. 57 to a USAC Western States Midget victory at Bakersfield Speedway back in 1994 en route to that year’s season title. Seavey is keen on keeping the trend going as his only Bakersfield win resulted in a championship and his latest on Tuesday moved him even closer to clinching.
In a hole early after a 21st place qualifying run, Seavey dug in and shoveled his way out with a heat race victory, which positioned him on the inside of row five for the feature. Earlier in the evening, Cofer was a tad unnerved, but Seavey would soon lead Cofer out of any sense of uneasiness.
“Even when we get a little behind, we figure it out really quickly and get it right back,” Seavey explained. “Johnny was a little nervous. He said, ‘man, are we buried yet?’ I said, ‘no worries; we’ll take care of it.’ And we did and we’re here. It speaks to how good this car is. We were a little off there early in the night, but we got it all squared away and sorted out. We were good in the heat race and really good in the feature.”
For Cofer, it was like old times with his Dwaine Esslinger owned ride he wheeled nearly three decades ago. Now with his retro tribute paint scheme back on the track, it’s led to the competition further suggesting that they bring back their own versions of retro schemes.
Among them was team owner Keith Kunz pondering the thought of bringing out a car resembling the machine Billy Boat drove to three-straight Turkey Night Grand Prix wins in 1995-96-97 and a USAC record 11 straight feature victories with the Western States Midgets in 1995 and was routinely a thorn in the side of Cofer “back in the day.”
“It’s just perfect,” Cofer exclaimed. “I couldn’t be prouder of the whole team and what (Abacus Racing team owner) Brent Cox has done to develop this team so quickly and it’s just phenomenal to watch Logan race. Keith (Kunz) just had a good idea. He said if these guys went ahead and did the blue 57, he’s going to bring the black 15 out with Boat’s deal and that could be trouble because he whooped me all the time.”
Nonetheless, holding the upper hand early was Axsom who jetted out to the initial lead on the low side as outside front row starter Justin Grant worked the top groove a couple car lengths back in second.
Two-time November Classic winner Buddy Kofoid (2020 & 2021) soon made his way into third on lap two and began hustling toward the leaders who were involved in their own tussle with Grant making a charge at Axsom in turns one and turn three, sliding past each time as Axsom retained control by scooting back under Grant off the exit.
Grant’s turn three maneuver proved detrimental as he pushed wide over the cushion, opening the door for Kofoid to slot into second on lap eight. The same two remained relentless, scrubbing tires off each other in turns three and four as the two fought to stay within earshot of Axsom who began to dice his way through lapped traffic a near full second ahead.
At the midway point entering turn three, Kofoid got caught up behind the lapped car of his teammate, Mariah Ede. Through the turns, the two glanced wheels, once more stifling Kofoid’s momentum, thus allowing Grant to capitalize by flashing across the nose of Kofoid to grab the spot back.
However, while that particular kerfuffle was transpiring, Seavey calmly cruised underneath both drivers to elevate himself from fourth to second on the leaderboard.
“I say it a lot, but when your car is this good, you can be patient and wait for the right move to come open and then take them when you get a chance and not mess it up when you do get the chance,” Seavey reasoned. “You don’t get a chance to go by two guys fairly easily like that, especially Buddy and Justin. They were just racing so hard with each other that I was able to sneak by down there on the bottom and then get right back up and get my speed back going.”
As Axsom sought a lane lower than Chance Crum while putting him a lap down in turn one on lap 22, Axsom’s momentum was suddenly hindered, and Seavey was on hand to capitalize. Seavey never broke stride going even lower than Axsom as he blasted by into the lead in turn one.
“That’s just racing,” Seavey explained. “You’ve got two guys racing in front of you and the easiest way to go by two good guys is to catch them when they are racing each other, and I was able to do that. The bottom was so narrow and so slick. To go down there for the first time in a long time and to nail the bottom and go by two of the best cars in the field is cool.”
A lap and a half later, disaster struck KKM teammates Gavin Miller and Kofoid. Miller, running fifth, ramped over the right rear tire of fourth place Kofoid in between turns three and four, sending Miller into the wall, which he ramped up and flipped over 1.5 times before coming to a rest upside down. Miller was able to walk away. During the ensuing stoppage, Kofoid pulled off to the Indy Metal Finishing Work Area, but soon returned to the tail of the field and raced back to a 14th place result.
On the final restart with seven laps remaining, Seavey said “sayonara” and quickly established a half straightway advantage before finishing up and crossing the line as the victor 1.705 seconds ahead of Emerson Axsom, Justin Grant, Cannon McIntosh and Carson Macedo.
For Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), it was so close yet again at Bakersfield in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Curb Records - TRD/Lynk/Speedway Toyota. For the fifth time this season, Axsom finished as the runner-up in a USAC National Midget feature without a win. This time at Bakersfield, he led a race high 21 of 30 laps before slotting into second in the final tally. It also marked Axsom’s second runner-up performance at Bakersfield following a similar performance in 2021 in which he led the first 17 laps and finished second.
In Justin Grant’s first 19 feature starts to begin the 2023 USAC National Midget season, he had earned just two top-three finishes. Now, in his last three starts, he's finished inside the top-three on three consecutive occasions, with a third at Bakersfield serving as the latest gold star on his recent late season run with RMS Racing/NOS Energy Drink – EnviroFab – Response Management Services/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: November 14, 2023 – Bakersfield Speedway – Bakersfield, California – 1/3-Mile Dirt Track – November Classic
HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Taylor Reimer, 25K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.687; 2. Cannon McIntosh, 86, CBI-12.719; 3. Buddy Kofoid, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.757; 4. Gavin Miller, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.781; 5. Jake Andreotti, 00, Davis-12.809; 6. Justin Grant, 2, RMS-12.844; 7. Emerson Axsom, 68, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.862; 8. Michael Faccinto, 14T, Graunstadt/Streeter-12.881; 9. Cade Lewis, 5K, Alexander-12.887; 10. Jacob Denney, 25, Malloy-12.896; 11. Braden Chiaramonte, 14J, Graunstadt/Streeter-12.900; 12. Jade Avedisian, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.900; 13. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-12.905; 14. Bryant Wiedeman, 81, CBI-12.914; 15. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-12.947; 16. Carson Macedo, 99AU, Dyson-12.995; 17. Ryan Timms, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.001; 18. Daniel Whitley, 58, Abacus-13.031; 19. Daison Pursley, 19, Reinbold/Underwood-13.052; 20. Mariah Ede, 71E, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.061; 21. Logan Seavey, 57, Abacus-13.069; 22. Chance Crum, 68w, Six8-13.075; 23. Mitchel Moles, 19T, Reinbold/Underwood-13.090; 24. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, Engler-13.093; 25. Peter Hunnibell, 65NZ, Covich-13.100; 26. Spencer Bayston, 9AU, Dyson-13.136; 27. Brandt Twitty, 4B, Twitty-13.140; 28. Brody Fuson, 51, Carlile-13.208; 29. Jesse Love, 84, CBI-13.218; 30. David Gasper, 73, Ford-13.271; 31. Blake Bower, 9, Boscacci-13.306; 32. Chase Johnson, 31B, Beilman-13.580; 33. Terry Nichols, 1p, Nichols/Peckfelder-13.839; 34. Ron Hazelton, 15ws, Hazelton-14.305; 35. Marvin Mitchell, 78, Mitchell-NT; 36. Garrett Twitty, 4, Twitty-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Logan Seavey, 2. Ryan Timms, 3. Taylor Reimer, 4. Shannon McQueen, 5. Jake Andreotti, 6. Cade Lewis, 7. Jesse Love, 8. Peter Hunnibell, 9. Terry Nichols. 2:12.37
ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Cannon McIntosh, 3. Jacob Denney, 4. Bryant Wiedeman, 5. Chance Crum, 6. Spencer Bayston, 7. David Gasper, 8. Ron Hazelton, 9. Daniel Whitley. NT
T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Daison Pursley, 2. Buddy Kofoid, 3. Emerson Axsom, 4. Mitchel Moles, 5. Hayden Reinbold, 6. Brandt Twitty, 7. Blake Bower, 8. Braden Chiaramonte, 9. Marvin Mitchell. NT
CAR IQ FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Macedo, 2. Gavin Miller, 3. Brody Fuson, 4. Mariah Ede, 5. Jade Avedisian, 6. Michael Faccinto, 7. Chase Johnson, 8. Thomas Meseraull. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Jake Andreotti, 2. Jade Avedisian, 3. Chance Crum, 4. Michael Faccinto, 5. Cade Lewis, 6. Hayden Reinbold, 7. Braden Chiaramonte, 8. Chase Johnson, 9. David Gasper, 10. Blake Bower, 11. Brandt Twitty, 12. Jesse Love, 13. Spencer Bayston, 14. Ron Hazelton, 15. Peter Hunnibell, 16. Terry Nichols, 17. Daniel Whitley, 18. Thomas Meseraull, 19. Marvin Mitchell. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Logan Seavey (9), 2. Emerson Axsom (1), 3. Justin Grant (2), 4. Cannon McIntosh (5), 5. Carson Macedo (7), 6. Daison Pursley (8), 7. Taylor Reimer (6), 8. Jade Avedisian (14), 9. Jacob Denney (13), 10. Hayden Reinbold (17), 11. Jake Andreotti (10), 12. Bryant Wiedeman (16), 13. Ryan Timms (18), 14. Buddy Kofoid (4), 15. Mitchel Moles (21), 16. Cade Lewis (12), 17. Brody Fuson (22), 18. Chance Crum (20), 19. Shannon McQueen (15), 20. Mariah Ede (19), 21. Gavin Miller (3), 22. Michael Faccinto (11). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Emerson Axsom, Laps 22-30 Logan Seavey.
**Daniel Whitley & Thomas Meseraull flipped during the semi. Gavin Miller flipped on lap 23 of the feature.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-1489, 2-Justin Grant-1259, 3-Bryant Wiedeman-1205, 4-Daison Pursley-1185, 5-Ryan Timms-1178, 6-Jade Avedisian-1162, 7-Jacob Denney-1113, 8-Gavin Miller-1051, 9-Cannon McIntosh-1022, 10-Taylor Reimer-981.