Logan Seavey led all 30 laps, but had to hold off a hard-charging Christopher Bell on the final circuit to win the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League’s Turnpike Challenge event at I-44 Riverside Speedway, Friday night. The second-place finish snaps Bell’s nine-race win streak at the Turnpike Challenge in his home state.
The victory is the second midget car win of the season for Seavey, the 2017 POWRi champion and defending USAC titlist. Toyota-powered drivers have now registered eight national midget wins in 2019, including Bell’s win in Thursday night’s Turnpike opener.
Starting from the pole, Seavey immediately moved into the point position on the green flag, followed by Hank Davis, Cannon McIntosh, Karter Sarff and Jesse Colwell.
As Seavey settled comfortably into the lead, McIntosh eventually passed Davis and then began to close quickly on Seavey. Unfortunately, McIntosh’s day came to a premature end with mechanical problems on lap 12. The 16-year-old had piloted his Toyota to his first national win earlier this month in USAC competition,
Further back in the field, Bell began to make his presence felt. After starting back in 14th, Bell had moved into the top-10 by lap eight. By the mid-way point, the Norman native had climbed into sixth behind Seavey, Davis, Sarff, Colwell and Blake Hahn.
A lap 17 restart saw Colwell attempt a big slider for third, but make contact with Sarff. That would move Bell into the top five with 14 laps remaining. As Seavey pulled away from the field, Bell quickly moved into fourth and then pulled off a huge slider on fellow Toyota driver Hahn for third on lap 20.
After a full-course caution on lap 23, Bell used a slider in turn one to pass Davis and set his sights on Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate Seavey with six laps to go. Within a lap, Bell was right there with Seavey and as the white flag waved for the last lap, Bell had pulled side-by-side, but it wasn’t quite enough as Seavey took the victory in a Toyota one-two finish.
“I’m glad he was able to get up there and race me at the end,” relayed Seavey. “It wouldn’t have felt as good if he didn’t get second and at least give me a shot for the lead. It’s cool to know we beat him straight up. We have tried for so long. I have to thank the Chris Bell fan on the backstretch because the harder he cheered, I knew he was getting close and I knew I had to hit my marks on the bottom. It’s just so tough to beat this guy and hopefully we can get it done again tomorrow.”
The race marked the first Turnpike Challenge Bell has competed in without winning.
“I’m glad we were able to put on a show for the fans,” said Bell. “Obviously I’m disappointed to break the streak, but you can’t win them all and to run second to my teammate who has been pushing me around for a couple of these races is good. The racetrack was really hard, very technical and fun to race. Ultimately, just started too far back.”
Three other Toyota drivers earned top-10 finishes on the night with Hahn earning a fourth, Jerry Coons Jr. placed seventh and Jesse Colwell placing eighth.
The POWRi Turnpike Challenge is back at I-44 Riverside Speedway on Saturday night before concluding at Port City Raceway on Sunday.
|Finish||Toyota Friday Results at I-44 Speedway|
|A Main – 1st||Logan Seavey|
|A Main – 2nd||Christopher Bell|
|A Main – 4th||Blake Hahn|
|A Main – 7th||Jerry Coons Jr.|
|A Main – 8th||Jesse Colwell|
|A Main – 11th||Tanner Carrick|
|A Main – 13th||Daison Pursley|
|A Main – 15th||Alex Bright|
|A Main – 17th||Tyler Thomas|
|A Main – 18th||Tucker Klaasmeyer|
|A Main – 20th||Zach Daum|
|A Main – 21st||Holley Hollan|
|A Main – 22nd||Kaylee Bryson|
|A Main – 23rd||Cannon McIntosh|
|B Main||Cole Bodine|
|B Main||Presley Truedson|
|C Main||Sterling Cling|
Toyota Racing PR