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Bayston Wins at Merced; Seavey Clinches National Title

Spencer Bayston celebrates in Victory Lane at Merced Speedway. Photo courtesy USAC Media - Photographer: Rich Forman Photo

Series News Release - USAC Media

Merced, California (November 21, 2023) - After what transpired during his most recent visit to California’s Merced Speedway last November, Spencer Bayston felt he had some unfinished business to attend to.

At the conclusion of 30 laps during Tuesday night’s USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship return to the high-banked 1/4-mile dirt oval, the Lebanon, Ind. racer put the finishing touches on the task that had eluded him a full year ago at the very same venue.

In November of 2022, Bayston watched his Dyson Motorsport teammate Carson Macedo win the Merced opener. The very next night, Bayston led the initial 25 laps before having his lead slip away to Buddy Kofoid with a mere five laps remaining.

This time around, the roles were reversed with Bayston, the 2017 USAC National Midget champion, taking the first-place prize after leading all 30 circuits in his Dyson Motorsport/Complete Parts & Equipment – Tarlton & Son – Empire/King/Speedway Toyota while Kofoid finished a distant second.

For Bayston, it was his first USAC National Midget feature victory since an Indiana Midget Week score at Lawrenceburg Speedway more than five years earlier in 2018. His sixth career series victory moved him to 106th on the all-time list alongside Donnie Beechler, George Benson, Dana Carter, Bob Cicconi, Robby Flock, Nick Fornoro Jr., Arnie Knepper, Cannon McIntosh, Ricky Shelton, Mike Streicher, Dave Strickland Jr., Kevin Thomas Jr. and Roger West.

Furthermore, Bayston became the first Hoosier State native hailing from Indiana to earn a USAC National Midget feature victory since Emerson Axsom almost two-and-a-half years earlier at Nebraska’s Jefferson County Speedway.

Bayston’s wire-to-wire performance puts another one in the win column for the team with the intriguing arrangement of American drivers, chassis from New Zealand and an Australian team that has now won two out of their three ever trips to Merced to go along with a runner-up result.

“It feels really good for all these Aussie guys standing back here behind me,” Bayston exclaimed. “We ran Bakersfield and Placerville and it’s hard; it’s a lot harder than I ever realized getting back into a midget and trying to keep pace with some of the top guys who run every single week. I spent the first couple of races trying to get it figured out. Last year, Carson (Macedo) won the first night out and I should’ve won the second. We knew coming into tonight our cars were going to be fast.”

Meanwhile, as one past series champion was racing his way back to victory lane, another past driving champion was busy adding a second USAC National Midget championship trophy to his case.

When Logan Seavey was pushed away for the start of Tuesday night’s feature, he clinched the season long points title for the second time in his career after previously etching his name into the record books back in 2018. It’s Seavey’s second USAC national title of 2023 after earlier securing the Silver Crown title, making him the first driver to win multiple USAC national championships in a single season since Levi Jones in 2011 (Silver Crown & Sprint).

By virtue of doubling-up with the USAC National Midget and Silver Crown titles in 2023, Seavey earned $100,000 in total point fund money alone for the year between the two divisions.

As far as the race itself, most of the fireworks occurred during the initial lap-and-a-half. Outside front row starter Gavin Miller slipped past pole sitter Bayston for the lead, but Bayston swiftly countered back under off turn four to beat Miller to the stripe and to the lap one lead by just a thread underneath a full car length.

On the second go around, Miller attempted to work the side around Bayston, but clipped his right rear tire into the outside guardrail, which sent him into a serious of six violent flips down the back straightaway and some major airtime before landing on all fours. Miller was able to escape from the wreckage and walk away under his own power.

On the resumption, Bayston shot away and instantaneously opened up a near full second lead over Tanner Carrick who slotted into second, and by the 10-lap mark, the advantage was a half-straightaway over the field for Bayston who’s made rare appearances with the midgets in recent years after winning a race and finishing eighth in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car points this season, but has never lost his touch for midget racing.

“It’s a little bit like riding a bike just with the general concept and the attitude of how the car dances around and bounces and moves,” Bayston acknowledged. “But it’s a little unnerving because you’re just so used to a wing car that has enough power to get you out of trouble and a big wing to shove you into the racetrack.”

Meanwhile, Seavey refused to rest on his championship laurels as he worked by Jesse Love for fifth with a slider on lap 16 after starting back in the 12th position. At the same time, a full straight ahead of Seavey was Bayston who remained the leader he reemerged in lapped traffic once more.

On the 25th lap, the top of the running order experienced a shakeup when fourth-place Emerson Axsom’s ride went up in smoke, forcing him to the infield and into a 19th place result, thrusting Seavey up to fourth and Love back into the top-five with less than five circuits go.

Up front, however, Bayston was never challenged too harshly by his fellow combatants as he sped away for a 0.893 second margin of victory over Buddy Kofoid, Tanner Carrick and Logan Seavey who extended his top-10 streak to 20 in a row, the most in USAC National Midget racing since 2000 when Kasey Kahne accumulated 21, and prior to that, Jason Leffler grabbing 22-straight in 1997.

Rounding out the top-five was 2023 ARCA Menard Stock Car champion Jesse Love who took fifth in the final tally to achieve his best career USAC National Midget showing.

“Just want to say a big thank you to the Dysons for giving me the opportunity to come back and run midgets and have fun with this whole group,” Bayston praised. “Justin (Insley) did a phenomenal job on my car. I got to spend a lot of time with his family back when I used to race in New Zealand. This whole group has done a great job and it’s an absolute blast to come out here and race with them.”

In seven career USAC National Midget starts at Merced, Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) has now finished inside the top-three in six of them. The Penngrove, Calif. racer eked by Tanner Carrick on the final lap, beating him to the line by .042 sec. to finish second in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – TRD – Curb Records/Lynk/Speedway Toyota.

Tanner Carrick (Lincoln, Calif.) narrowly missed out on a runner-up finish at Merced in his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/DR Horton – CVC Concrete/Lynk/Speedway Toyota. However, he did earn his best finish of the USAC National Midget season in the process. Carrick scored a third-place result, his best finish at Merced since 2020.

Tanner Thorson’s Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifying run was the 26th of his USAC National Midget career, moving him past Gary Bettenhausen and into a tie with Jason Leffler for 15th all-time. Furthermore, Thorson’s time of 11.526 eclipsed the former record of 11.635 set by Buddy Kofoid in 2021.

It was the first of three USAC National Midget track records at Merced rewritten on Tuesday night.  Jesse Love’s 10-lap heat race victory bested Chris Windom’s 2021 record by more than five seconds while Jade Avedisian’s 12-lap time for her semi-feature win was more than nine seconds faster than Taylor Reimer’s from 2022.

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Spencer Bayston (1), 2. Buddy Kofoid (5), 3. Tanner Carrick (4), 4. Logan Seavey (12), 5. Jesse Love (8), 6. Tanner Thorson (10), 7. Carson Macedo (9), 8. Jacob Denney (14), 9. Ryan Timms (16), 10. Jade Avedisian (11), 11. Daison Pursley (6), 12. Justin Grant (22), 13. Corey Day (18), 14. Bryant Wiedeman (17), 15. Hayden Reinbold (19), 16. Taylor Reimer (23-P), 17. Cannon McIntosh (13), 18. Braden Chiaramonte (15), 19. Emerson Axsom (3), 20. Jake Andreotti (7), 21. Chance Crum (20), 22. Gavin Miller (2), 23. Mitchel Moles (21). NT

(P) represents a provisional starter

USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-1653, 2-Justin Grant-1404, 3-Bryant Wiedeman-1347, 4-Daison Pursley-1335, 5-Ryan Timms-1331, 6-Jade Avedisian-1313, 7-Jacob Denney-1267, 8-Gavin Miller-1180, 9-Cannon McIntosh-1157, 10-Taylor Reimer-1112.


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