Wiedeman Gets First Career National Midget Win in Beloit
Series News Release - USAC Media
Beloit, Kansas (July 13, 2023) - In 83 previous USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship events held in Kansas dating back to 1957, never had a Kansas native won a series feature in his home state.
Bryant Wiedeman changed that statistical fact during a green-white-checkered restart on Wednesday night during the 12th running of the Chad McDaniel Memorial at the Mitchell County Fairgrounds in Beloit, Kan.
In what was his 76th career USAC National Midget feature start since his 2020 series debut, the Colby, Kan. racer swept under near racelong leader Emerson Axsom on the bottom with two laps remaining to score his first career series victory, ending a long wait to break through at the 1/4-mile dirt oval.
Wiedeman nearly became the first native of the Sunflower State to win a USAC National Midget race on Kansas soil just two months earlier. He led 27 of the 40 laps on the second night at the Belleville Short Track in May before an incident ended his chances at victory in his CB Industries/Nutrien Ag Solutions – PristineAuction.com – K & C Drywall/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
Redemption finally came for the high school senior who had joined car owner Chad Boat’s outfit at the beginning of the season. Finally, after nearly three full seasons on the circuit, Wiedeman can call himself a USAC National Midget winner.
“I just can’t believe it! It’s mind blowing,” Wiedeman exclaimed. “I’ve been working pretty hard for this one, and I thought tonight might be my night, and it was. I just had to stay consistent down there and I can’t thank my guys enough. They all work so hard and I’m very proud to get it done for them. It’s unbelievable to win a USAC race.”
Wiedeman started his 30-lap quest from the fifth spot at the venue that had formerly been known as Solomon Valley Raceway. However, it was front row occupants Ryan Timms and Emerson Axsom who controlled the early portion of the contest. From the pole position, Timms stepped out to the first lap lead, but Axsom pressed ahead around the outside of Timms on the back stretch to take over the pace on lap two. Meanwhile, outside third row occupant Logan Seavey had burst his way up to third.
A major crash down the front straightaway on lap seven ensued when Thomas Meseraull and Jade Avedisian touched wheels at the start/finish line while battling for the 12th position. The initial impact sent defending Chad McDaniel Memorial winner Meseraull flipping several times, while also collecting top series Rookie Gavin Miller in the mishap. Avedisian was able to continue on without stopping. Both Meseraull and Miller were able to climb out of their cars under their own power.
On the lap seven restart, second running Timms, the most recent USAC National Midget feature winner at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway in June, got hung up on the turn three cushion and slid to a stop over the banking, which brought out the yellow. Timms restarted at the tail and made a valiant effort to work his way back to ninth at the finish line.
Axsom was in total control from that point forward, building his lead to 1.6 seconds over new second place occupant Jesse Love by lap 12 while series point leader Logan Seavey was surging in third. Also working his way forward was Wiedeman who continuously dug in on the low line to third past Seavey on lap 17, then to second by Love on the 22nd circuit. From there, it was “low line for life” for Wiedeman as he found the groove to his liking.
“(Cannon) McIntosh had a really good run at me early in the race, so I just went down there looking,” Wiedeman recalled. “I got a pretty good run on Seavey and figured one and two was pretty good down there. So, I just stayed down there the whole race and just had to maintain in three and four because I think the top was better down there.”
With five laps remaining, Axsom’s advantage remained at 1.5 sec. as he looked to lock down his first USAC National Midget feature victory since nearly two years ago to the day. Axsom’s pursuit was halted on lap 26 when a tangle occurred in the battle for third. Entering turn one, Justin Grant's right front tire and Love's left rear touched, sending Grant spinning to a stop. Grant restarted at the tail but managed just a 14th place result.
On the ensuing restart, Wiedeman’s bottom feeding exploits were put to the test on Axsom for the race lead. Wiedeman pulled even with Axsom for the lead with three to go. Entering turn one on lap 28, however, Axsom moved off the top and made a beeline to the bottom of turn one to steal the line away from Wiedeman who remained a single car length behind with the laps winding down.
Rounding turn two for what he thought was the final time, Axsom held a three car length lead with the checkered flag just within sight. But it was not to be just yet as 12th running Jade Avedisian spun to a halt in turn three while Chance Crum (19th) also stopped, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
Although he sat right on the bumper of Axsom heading back to the green flag, Wiedeman had just one thought and prayer directed toward the situation, the only one he thought might work in his favor if it played out.
“I knew on that last restart that one and two was so good, he was probably going to go down there,” Wiedeman explained of Axsom’s plans. “I decided to hope for luck that he was going to miss it.”
Entering turn one, Axsom just narrowly missed, sliding up a car width on the bottom, which opened the door for Wiedeman to get a foot in and rip the top spot away for himself. Momentarily, Seavey nearly swiped past both entering the bottom of turn three moments later, but ultimately, shuffled back into third.
To the roar and jubilation of the home state crowd, Wiedeman stuck to his guns as a low rider and scored a two car length, 0.277 second triumph over Axsom with Seavey third, Jacob Denney fourth and Love rounding out the top-five with his best career USAC result.
The victory elevated Wiedeman from fourth to second in the season long USAC National Midget point standings. Furthermore, he became the second first-time series winner in the last three races, joining Gavin Miller (Bloomington) in that regard. Wiedeman also joined his car owner, Chad Boat, as a driver who earned his first career USAC National Midget feature win during Mid-America Midget Week. Boat did the same in 2016 at Nebraska’s Jefferson County Speedway.
Frankly speaking, Emerson Axsom hates losing. On this night, he led 27 of 30 laps and finished second aboard his Petry-Hayward Motorsports/Capital Industries – IPC/Spike/Speedway Toyota. For Axsom, that's now the third time this season he’s finished as the runner-up in USAC National Midget competition. It's also his second career runner-up result at the Chad McDaniel Memorial after scoring a similar second back in 2021.
“I’m just frustrated honestly,” Axsom lamented. “Bryant is one of my buddies, but I hate to lose. Congrats to him; he’s been working really hard. We’re just coming to do this and have fun, but we all hate to lose. We came here to win. It’s hot and we’re all frustrated. I hate to be a crybaby, but I just hate to lose.”
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) came close to a complete sweep on Wednesday night. He was the fastest qualifier, won his heat and finished third in the feature in the seat of his Abacus Racing/Indy Custom Stone – CG CPAs – Dozer’z Nut’z & Bolt’z/Spike/Stanton SR-11x. That now makes five consecutive top-three finishes for Seavey, and he also exits the night just as he entered - as the USAC National Midget point leader.
“It was a little greasy on the bottom and pretty gripped up on the top,” Seavey explained. “I had a great start and got to third right away but gave up third trying the bottom too early when it was still wet. (Love) got by us and I just couldn’t get back by him. It’s my fault for losing that spot early. I felt like I had a shot to win, but these races are hard to win, especially in a race where I thought I had a really great shot to win, and I just didn’t run a good enough race. The guys gave me a good car, just like they always do. I just didn’t get the job done.”
Furthermore, Seavey moved up to 41st all-time with his 14th career USAC National Midget Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifying time. That tied him with Jerry Coons Jr., Dave Darland, Jeff Gordon and Kenny Irwin Jr. on the all-time list. Interestingly, all five drivers who possess 14 career fast times with the series are all USAC National Midget driving champions.
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Bryant Wiedeman (5), 2. Emerson Axsom (2), 3. Logan Seavey (6), 4. Jacob Denney (4), 5. Jesse Love (3), 6. Daison Pursley (18), 7. Cannon McIntosh (7), 8. Zach Daum (22), 9. Ryan Timms (1), 10. Chase McDermand (14), 11. Taylor Reimer (12), 12. Jerry Coons Jr. (16), 13. Hayden Reinbold (19), 14. Justin Grant (9), 15. Anton Hernandez (20), 16. Mariah Ede (10), 17. Jake Andreotti (8), 18. Jade Avedisian (15), 19. Chance Crum (21), 20. Kyle Jones (17), 21. Thomas Meseraull (13), 22. Gavin Miller (11). NT
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-634, 2-Bryant Wiedeman-600, 3-Jacob Denney-599, 4-Justin Grant-574, 5-Daison Pursley-554, 6-Jade Avedisian-547, 7-Ryan Timms-499, 8-Cannon McIntosh-486, 9-Chase McDermand-458, 10-Taylor Reimer-455.