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Seavey & Grant Share Spotlight at USAC Night of Champions

Updated: Dec 11, 2023


The 2023 USAC National Champions Logan Seavey (Silver Crown, Midgets) and Justin Grant (Sprint Cars) were honored at USAC's Night of Champions event. Photo courtesy USAC Media - Photographer: Dave Olson Photo

Series News Release - USAC Media

Features & Notes compiled by Richie Murray, USAC Media


Indianapolis, Indiana (December 8, 2023) - USAC national driving champions Logan Seavey and Justin Grant shared the spotlight along with other 2023 USAC champions and special award recipients at Friday night’s 68th USAC Night of Champions celebration at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis, Ind.


USAC NATIONAL CHAMPIONS


A total of 75 USAC national events were held from sea to shining sea during the 2023 campaign, from February’s events in the gator country of Barberville, Florida all the way to November’s night on the beach in Ventura, California.


We were witnesses to milestones, photo finishes, historic streaks, hard charges, a double-up champion, a repeat titlist and a return to the throne.


With the curtain closed on the 68th year of USAC racing, we salute all the individuals and teams who thrived through the yearlong grind on the trail and also those who earned the right to stand on the stage Friday night as one of the very best at their discipline.



USAC SILVER CROWN 1ST PLACE DRIVER: Logan Seavey – Sutter, California


USAC SILVER CROWN 1ST PLACE ENTRANT: Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing – Brownsburg, Indiana


Logan Seavey and Rice Motorsports fell just a few points short of a USAC Silver Crown championship in each of the past two seasons, but in 2023, they weren’t denied. Three dirt wins met the expectations of the team’s desires at Port Royal, Springfield and Eldora. However, the pavement side of the equation saw a huge stride for the team with four top-five results.


However, a July accident at Winchester nearly derailed their championship hopes and aspirations. With all hands on deck between Rice Motorsports and new team co-entrant Abacus Racing, and the sands of the hourglass running short, the team rebuilt their car just in time to finish 5th at Toledo, marking the moment when the two factions truly became one team.


When all was said and done, Seavey, Rice and Abacus prevailed with a scant seven-point edge in earning the title, and coupled with his midget championship, Seavey became the first driver since Levi Jones in 2011 to double up with multiple USAC national titles in a season, which earned him a $50,000 bonus, doubling his point fund payout to $100,000 for the year.

 


USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK NATIONAL MIDGET 1ST PLACE DRIVER: Logan Seavey – Sutter, California


USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK NATIONAL MIDGET 1ST PLACE ENTRANT: Abacus Racing – Noblesville, Indiana


Logan Seavey and Abacus Racing’s 280-point final championship margin at the conclusion of the 2023 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship season was the largest in nearly two decades since Bobby East’s title in 2004, and it came after they found themselves mired sixth in the standings, 110 points out of the lead in June.


Their run of 22 consecutive top-10 finishes to end the season sealed the deal and tied Jason Leffler’s series record set in 1997, the very same year Seavey was born. Seavey won at Macon Speedway mere hours after winning the USAC Silver Crown race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, becoming just the third driver to win multiple USAC national events at two different racetracks in a single day, a feat previously only accomplished by Billy Vukovich in 1967 and J.J. Yeley in 2004.


Seavey also performed a complete USAC sweep of the 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora and led the midget series in feature laps led with 214 as well as 21 top-fives and 24 top-tens in 27 starts. He’s now a two-time USAC National Midget champion and his team is a first-time series titlist.

 


USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR 1ST PLACE DRIVER: Justin Grant, Ione, California


RICHARD HOFFMAN USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR 1ST PLACE ENTRANT: TOPP Motorsports, Rochester, Indiana


Justin Grant and TOPP Motorsports endured a nearly two-month struggle in the late spring/early summer months which overlapped with a change in team personnel and a period of confidence-shaking woes that found the team as far down as sixth in the standings entering mid-summer.


What followed was one of the most dominant stretches in series history for himself, sidekick Jeff Walker and TOPP Motorsports’ Kevin Birchmeier, accounting for a career-high 11 series victories in 2023, including eight in his final 17 starts, and 13 straight top-tens to close out the year.


Grant became the 13th different point leader in a record setting year in terms of point lead changes and was also victorious at Gas City in the closest USAC finish of the season while earning the most lucrative weekend of his career when he cashed $44,500 in a single night by completing a Sprint Car Smackdown sweep at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway. To boot, he finished off the year with $20,000 more in his pocket as the winner of the Fall Nationals at Lawrenceburg.


Both Grant and TOPP are now two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champions, and for the second year in a row, the first team to do so since Brady Bacon and Dynamics, Inc. in 2020-21. The efforts were worth another $50,000 for their title run.

 


USAC SILVER CROWN 2ND PLACE DRIVER: Kody Swanson – Kingsburg, California


USAC SILVER CROWN 2ND PLACE ENTRANT: Doran-Binks Racing – Lebanon, Ohio


Kody Swanson became the first driver to reach 40 career USAC Silver Crown wins during a summer stretch in which he collected three consecutive victories at Madison, Winchester and Toledo, making it the fourth occasion in which he won three-in-a-row with the series. No other driver has more than one such streak! He shared the series lead with nine top-fives in 11 series starts and topped all drivers with 433 laps led and six fast qualifying times. For an incredible 10 straight years now, he’s finished either first or second in the standings. Finishing as the runners-up for the USAC Silver Crown series in 2023 were Kingsburg, California’s Swanson and Lebanon, Ohio’s Doran-Binks Racing.

 


USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK NATIONAL MIDGET 2ND PLACE DRIVER: Justin Grant, Ione, California


USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK NATIONAL MIDGET 2ND PLACE ENTRANT: RMS Racing, Western Springs, Illinois


They’ve made a habit of it throughout their time together, and once again, for the third season in a row, Justin Grant and the RMS Racing team finished inside the top-three of the standings, and this year, both driver and entrant wound up as the runners-up. Grant led 94 laps while accumulating 12 top-fives in 27 starts and was simply spectacular in a masterful drive at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There, the Ione, Calif. driver and Western Springs, Illinois based team went undefeated throughout the weekend to capture the $20,039 dollar prize at the Driven2SaveLives BC39.



USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR 2ND PLACE DRIVER: Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma


USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR 2ND PLACE ENTRANT: Dynamics Inc., Milford, Ohio


For the fourth consecutive year, Brady Bacon and his Dynamics, Inc. team finished top-two in the standings on the strength of seven victories, equaling his career high. Bacon’s $20,000 dollar Haubstadt Hustler victory at Tri-State gave him 53 career USAC National Sprint Car feature wins, pushing the Broken Arrow, Okla. product to second all-time in that category. He also added a second Indiana Sprint Week crown and a pair of victories in Illinois & Texas which set a record for the most different states won in by a USAC National Sprint Car driver at 14. At Wilmot, this combo became the winningest driver/entrant pairing in series history with 41 scores and now they’re your 2023 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car runners-up.

 


USAC SILVER CROWN 3RD PLACE DRIVER: Justin Grant – Ione, California


USAC SILVER CROWN 3RD PLACE ENTRANT: Hemelgarn Racing – LaSalle, Michigan


For the eighth straight season, Justin Grant and Hemelgarn Racing found themselves inside the top-five of the USAC Silver Crown standings at season’s end, finishing third both the driver and entrant standings for 2023. On Labor Day weekend this year, they broke an 18-race string without a victory when he scored the 69th running of the Ted Horn 100 at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds dirt mile. After a somewhat sluggish start which saw them fall to ninth in points, the Ione, Calif. driver and LaSalle, Mich. team rebounded with authority, recording six top-sixes to cap the season.

 


USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK NATIONAL MIDGET 3RD PLACE DRIVER: Bryant Wiedeman – Colby, Kansas


USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK NATIONAL MIDGET 3RD PLACE ENTRANT: CB Industries – Mooresville, North Carolina


Bryant Wiedeman became a first-time USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature winner in 2023, utilizing a low-side pass on the white flag lap to seal a victory in his home state of Kansas at the Mitchell County Fairgrounds. The Colby, Kan. racer ascended to a fourth-place finish in the standings a year ago, just 13 points out of third. However, this year, he took the next step up the ladder by leading 32 laps and grabbing nine top-five results in 26 starts while also bringing his CB Industries team back to the podium at year’s end with Wiedeman and Mooresville, North Carolina’s CBI taking third in the driver and entrant standings, respectively.

 


USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR 3RD PLACE DRIVER: Emerson Axsom – Franklin, Indiana


USAC AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT CAR 3RD PLACE ENTRANT: Clauson Marshall Newman Racing – Fishers, Indiana


One year after corralling Rookie of the Year honors, Emerson Axsom came back with a sensational sophomore season in which he won on back-to-back nights at Pennsylvania’s Big Diamond Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway en route to the Eastern Storm title before adding another win at Indiana’s Bloomington Speedway. In all, he garnered a series-high 29 top-tens in 36 starts while bringing his Clauson Marshall Newman Racing team to its best points finish in four years. In 2023, Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) and Clauson Marshall Newman (Fishers, Ind.) tallied a third-place finish in the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car driver and entrant standings.


USAC INDIVIDUAL & SPECIAL AWARDS


ROGER McCLUSKEY AWARD: Dave Darland – Lincoln, Indiana


Who would have thought that a straggly kid from Lincoln, Indiana would have come this far? Dave Darland is the absolute epitome of the word “excellence” in every sense of the word. He’s one of seven members of the Triple Crown club, winning championships across all three of USAC’s divisions – Silver Crown, National Midgets and National Sprint Cars where he is the winningest driver in series history.


Darland’s total of 115 USAC feature victories (nationally and regionally) ranks fifth all-time and his 1,334 USAC National feature starts between 1986 and 2023 also ranks number one. He also scored at least one USAC national feature victory in a remarkable 24 consecutive seasons between 1993 and 2016.


He’s raced everywhere and won nearly everything in his long and storied career. He’s won on pavement and dirt, won from coast-to-coast, and titles upon titles, and was one of the most popular drivers to ever compete on the USAC trail. Along the way, he affectionately earned the nickname, “The People’s Champ,” which certainly about sums it up.


The accolades go on and on and we could be here for eternity reciting them, but this man has solidified his position as one of the all-time greats in all motorsports, and that’s a status he will retain for eternity.


It brings me great pleasure to introduce to you this year’s recipient of the Roger McCluskey Award – the incomparable Dave Darland!

 


MIKE CURB USAC NATIONAL DRIVERS CHAMPION: Justin Grant, Ione, California


A second USAC National Sprint Car championship in as many years isn’t the only impressive accolade Justin Grant repeated in 2023. For the third consecutive season, and fourth time overall, Grant (Ione, Calif.) was rewarded as the Mike Curb USAC National Driver Champion. He amassed the most total points across the three USAC national divisions throughout the duration of the 2023 campaign and is now just the third driver to win the honor in three consecutive seasons, joining J.J. Yeley and Bryan Clauson in that department. He’s also now one of only two drivers to capture this reward four times in his career along with Tracy Hines. For his performance, Grant collected an extra $10,000.



JOHNNY CAPELS “GOLDEN GREEK” USAC CHIEF MECHANIC OF THE YEAR: Ronnie Gardner – Rice Motorsports & Abacus Racing


It’s a rare feat to win multiple championships in a single year in any aspect of the sport, but Ronnie Gardner was able to achieve that as a crewman in 2023. A five-time USAC Western States Midget titlist as a driver in his own right, he turned in the steering wheel for a wrench and has kept on winning. This year, between his efforts with driver Logan Seavey, Abacus Racing and Rice Motorsports, he amassed a pair of championships in USAC National Midget and USAC Silver Crown competition. The Johnny Capels “Golden Greek” award is reserved for those special individuals who are in the trenches and this year’s recipient is certainly among those as he earned a $10,000 reward for his efforts.



BUBBY JONES MASTER OF GOIN' FASTER CHAMPIONSHIP: C.J. Leary – Greenfield, Indiana


C.J. Leary has won a USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, an Indiana Sprint Week title and an Eastern Storm crown in his career. In 2023, the Greenfield, Ind. driver added another highlight to his impressive reel by capturing the second annual Bubby Jones Master of Goin’ Faster Championship Presented By Spire Sports + Entertainment. Leary earned $10,000 for his efforts in the 10-race miniseries and an extra $2,500 for his BGE Dougherty Motorsports team. For Leary, it’s another feather in his cap as he also received a custom trophy provided by Potter Metal Art.



PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER: Daison Pursley – Locust Grove, Oklahoma


Daison Pursley’s conquests in USAC’s National Sprint Car Midget divisions saw him pass a total of 199 cars in 62 feature starts throughout the 2023 season. Those efforts paid off for the Locust Grove, Okla. driver as he earned the title of ProSource Passing Master. Pursley earned a $2,500 prize and becomes the third different winner of the season-long award which rewards the USAC nationally licensed driver who advanced the most positions during feature events throughout the entirety of USAC’s 2023 national season between Silver Crown, Sprint Cars and Midgets.



MAX PAPIS INNOVATIONS SILVER CROWN ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Kaylee Bryson – Muskogee, Oklahoma


Throughout the 2023 season, Kaylee Bryson ascended to heights never before reached in USAC’s 68-year history. She became the first woman to finish inside the top-five of the standings in a USAC national series and is now the first woman to earn USAC National Rookie of the Year honors of any kind, earning the honor with the Silver Crown series this past season. One year ago, the Muskogee, Oklahoma native became the first woman to earn USAC National Most Improved Driver honors and she’s also the first Okie to win this award.



MAX PAPIS INNOVATIONS BOB STROUD NATIONAL MIDGET ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Gavin Miller – Allentown, Pennsylvania


Just a few years ago, Gavin Miller stood on the stage at USAC’s Night of Champions as a decorated quarter midget racer. Now the six-time USAC .25 Midget champ is making a name on the USAC National Midget scale by becoming the first Pennsylvanian to win a series feature since Steve Buckwalter 13 years ago. Miller’s win at Bloomington and an eighth place finish in the standings propelled the Allentown, Pa. racer to becoming just the third Keystone State native to receive recognition as the Max Papis Innovations Bob Stroud USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year after John Andretti in 1983 and Andrew Layser in 2019.



MAX PAPIS INNOVATIONS USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Daison Pursley – Locust Grove, Oklahoma


There are comeback stories and then there is the comeback story of Daison Pursley. In 2021, the Locust Grove, Okla. native suffered a spinal injury that kept him inside hospitals and rehab centers for several months. His perseverance and desire ultimately led him back to the driver’s seat. Right out of the box in 2023, he got the racing world’s attention with a $10,000 score at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park, a night he said he’ll always remember. Defying the odds is part of Pursley’s game, and in 2023, he became the first Oklahoman to win the Max Papis Innovations USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year award since Gary Cameron in 1992.

 


NATIONAL MOST IMPROVED DRIVER: Carson Garrett – Littleton, Colorado


Hailing from Littleton, Colorado, Carson Garrett becomes the first ever Rocky Mountain State driver to ever be named a USAC National Most Improved Driver. Garrett recorded career bests in every single statistical category throughout the 2023 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season. In his third year with the series, he notched three top-fives and came within a whisker – just 93 hundredths of a second – of winning his first series feature at Macon Speedway in Illinois. He also made one of the biggest charges of the year when he advanced from 20th to 6th at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.

 


RACE ORGANIZER OF THE YEAR: Steve O’Neal – Port Royal Speedway


For several years now, Steve O’Neal has been the face of Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway, overseeing a transformation of the facility that fits its moniker to a T as The Speed Palace. He’s long been an advocate for USAC racing in the Keystone State, and since 2012, has been an ardent supporter of USAC Sprint Car racing’s annual running of Eastern Storm. In 2022, he was instrumental in doubling USAC’s participation at Port Royal, adding a Silver Crown event to the night, thus creating one of the most highly anticipated events of the year. In 2023, O’Neal was celebrated as USAC’s Race Organizer of the Year.



USAC SPECIAL APPRECIATION (INDIVIDUAL): Dave & Kim Rudisell – Lawrenceburg Speedway


This year, we bid farewell to one of the most supportive and prevalent USAC promoters in the club’s history. USAC celebrated Dave and Kim Rudisell with an honorable send-off as recipients of USAC’s Special Appreciation award. For the past 17 years, they have operated Indiana’s Lawrenceburg Speedway. Between 2007 and 2023, they organized more than 40 USAC National Sprint Car events, eighth most all-time. The last of those 40 served as this past year’s season finale and was the richest race of any kind ever held in the 74-year history of the track. They also promoted 16 USAC National Midget events at The Burg, and in all, they promoted 56 USAC national events which ranks 14th all-time in USAC history.



USAC SPECIAL APPRECIATION (INDIVIDUAL): Chet Christner – FloRacing


Since 2017, Chet Christner has announced several hundreds of USAC national events on the public address system and to a worldwide audience on FloRacing at racetracks from coast-to-coast. With noted catchphrases such as “Drop the Hamma,” “Like a Rat on a Cheeto” and “Going Faster than Breath Mints at a Singles Bar,” etc., Christner’s colorful descriptions, humor and entertaining play-by-play calls captivated legions of race fans. Additionally, he produced a plethora of content and was a substantial help behind the scenes in the technological department in regard to the race day set-up for race broadcasts. Christner has opted to step away from announcing USAC events at the end of the 2023 season, but nonetheless, he will always remain a treasured member of the USAC family.



CAR IQ FAB FOUR CHAMPION: Jade Avedisian – Clovis, California


It was an absolutely fabulous season for Jade Avedisian as she captured the inaugural Car IQ Fab Four championship in 2023. The first of its kind competition determine the top women drivers within all USAC circle track racing based on an equal ratio of average finish in USAC’s Silver Crown, AMSOIL National Sprint Car and NOS Energy Drink National Midget series in addition to an online fan vote. During the season ending Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway, Clovis, California’s Avedisian was rewarded with a $10,000 prize courtesy of Car IQ.



DICK JORDAN AWARD: Nikki Klepper – USAC Licensing & RaceAid


Nikki Klepper is, without a doubt, the backbone of so many behind the scenes aspects that go hand in hand with the success of USAC racing. Without her tireless contributions, the USAC Night of Champions wouldn’t even be a possibility. Not only does she make this event happen, she routinely makes it special. Nikki has worked in the front office of USAC for several years in charge of licensing, and recently, has taken on the role as head of USAC’s Benevolent Foundation, now called USAC RaceAid, and has taken it to new heights.


Under her guidance, care and leadership within USAC, Klepper was chosen as the honoree of this year’s Dick Jordan Award of Excellence, honoring an individual who has displayed tireless dedication and commitment to the betterment of USAC. One who has had a profound positive impact within the USAC family and has earned the ultimate respect of their peers within the sport. One who has created a lasting legacy that will persist for generations to follow. One who has set a standard by upholding the values and work ethic as Dick Jordan did throughout his 50-year career with USAC.



ENGLER MACHINE & TOOL FAST PASS: Dave Berkheimer – Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania


A new contingency award was introduced for the 2023 USAC Silver Crown season with the intention of rewarding a driver and team who are the backbone of the sport. Dave Berkheimer exemplifies that fact, having been a fixture on the series trail for the past eight seasons since 2016. This year, the first car in the running order a lap down was issued an Engler Machine & Tool Fast Pass. The Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvanian grabbed five of those throughout the year, which earned him a $4,000 prize – $2,000 each to driver and owner – and he is both of those.



DIRT DRAFT MOST POPULAR DRIVER AWARDS: Kaylee Bryson, Logan Seavey & Thomas Meseraull


Also new for 2023 was the introduction of the Dirt Draft Most Popular Driver award. The winner of these awards were chosen based on who was selected most often by Dirt Draft contest participants in each USAC national division throughout the year. Drivers who were picked most often will earn a bit of bonus money tonight. Those winners are Kaylee Bryson for the Silver Crown series, Logan Seavey for the Sprint Cars and Thomas Meseraull in the Midgets.


For Regional and Developmental Awards and Notes, check out usacracing.com.

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