Newmanstown, PA – It was a race that had more plot twists, along with many incredible action sequences, than most motion pictures or television shows. There were comebacks from adversity, heroic moves that tested the fences, and, when the checkered flag finally waved to end the terrific event, there was a winner who set a record.
In his first race back since he broke his arm almost eight weeks ago, Zeb Wise became the youngest winner – ever – of a USAC National Midget feature when he captured the 40-lap, P1 Insurance National Midget Championship Series race on Saturday night at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Wise, from Angola, IN, did not take the lead until lap 29, and that is probably a good thing as the early leaders seemed snake bit and ended up in tangles and/or knocked out of the race.
On the original start, Cullman, Alabama’s Kevin Thomas Jr. threw a slide job on pole sitter (and current National points leader) Logan Seavey of Sutter, CA. Thomas shot out to a comfortable lead as Spencer Bayston, Brady Bacon, and Wise tussled for third. The first yellow flag flew with three circuits complete and on the restart, Bayston slid Seavey for second, but the pass was wiped out by another caution because Tyler Courtney flipped in turn four, collecting Alex Bright. Both were able to restart at the back of the pack.
On the fifth tour, Bayston executed another slider on Seavey and this time it worked, moving Bayston, who was quickest in time trials with a new track record of 10.129-seconds, to second. Last season’s National Midget point champ, Bayston, then went after the race leader, and he quickly caught Thomas as they encountered a heavy pack of cars running at the rear of the field. Thomas was able to separate himself from the pack as the leaders caught and began to negotiate lapped traffic by the ninth revolution.
On lap16, as Thomas attempted to put a lap on Andrew Layser, the duo banged wheels in turns three and four. Thomas, the race leader, spun out, collecting a few others with Brady Bacon flipping but able to restart.
Bayston inherited the top spot at that point as Thomas headed pit side. Bacon made it back onto the track. Bayston charged out to a commanding lead over Seavey, and soon 15-year-old Zeb Wise entered the picture, executing a slider on Seavey to take over the runner-up slot at the halfway point. One circuit later, Justin Grant took over third and he held that position until he encountered some lapped traffic. He flipped in turns three and four, after contact with a few of the cars he was trying to lap, with 24 complete, collecting Tim Buckwalter.
Tyler Courtney, who flipped early in the race, was back up to sixth with 24 down, and he re-entered the top five with just seven tours remaining.
Wise led lap 29 – barely – over Bayston after slide-jobbing him in one and two. With two to go, Bayston made contact with some lapped scars as he tried to keep pace with the winner.
With two to go, Bayston tried an acrobatic move in lapped traffic, made contact with one of the slower cars, and spun in the fourth turn. Seavey actually drove his car into and off of the fence. During the yellow to repair the fence, Courtney headed for the pits with a flat left-rear tire. He made it back out prior to the green flag waving again.
On the green-white-checkered restart, Bright’s No. 77 came to life, enabling him to move up to third. He passed Seavey for second on lap 39, then closed on Wise during the final trip around the progressively banked oval. Wise kept him at bay to seal the deal and become USAC’s youngest-ever winner of a P1 Insurance USAC National Midget Tour event at the ripe old age of 15.
Alex Bright finished a hard-earned second, with Seavey – the current national tour’s point leader – settling for third. Adam Pierson finished finished fourth and Bacon rebounded nicely from his roll-over to finish fifth. Justin Grant returned from his rollover to record a seventh place finish and Tyler Courtney persevered to finish tenth.
In time trials, Spencer Bayston turned the quickest lap at 10.129-seconds. Courtney was close behind at 10.136, and Brady Bacon was third best in time trials at 10.293. The first two, by Bayston and Courtney, were both under the current track record of 10.208, set by Carson Macedo. Spencer Bayston now holds the track record for the USAC Midgets at Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway.
Chad Boat, Courtney, and Seavey were heat race winners for the 24 Midget competitors.
USAC National Midget Series, 40 Laps: 1.Zeb Wise, 2.Alex Bright, 3.Logan Seavey, 4.Adam Pierson, 5.Brady Bacon, 6.Tanner Carrick, 7.Justin Grant, 8.Andrew Layser, 9.Spencer Bayston, 10.Tyler Courtney, 11.Chad Boat, 12.Kenny Miller III, 13.Brayton Lynch, 14.Ethan Mitchell, 15.Tommy Kunsman, 16.Shawn Jackson, 17.Jason Rice, 18.Brenden Bright, 19.Tim Buckwalter, 20.Kevin Woody, 21.Kevin Thomas Jr., 22.Kenney Johnson.
DNS: John Anderika; Kyle Craker.
-Clyde Martin Speedway Press Release and Photo