Bay Cities Racing Association Lightning Sprints
SEAVEY WINS HANGTOWN 100 FINALE
(Upland, CA, November 24, 2021) Logan Seavey won the three-night battle and his second main event in the California Lightning Sprint Car Series/Bay Cities Racing Association co-sanctioned “Hangtown 100” last Saturday night at the Placerville Speedway. At the same time, rookie David Gasper of Santa Barbara won the eight-month, 17 race war and was crowned 2021 California Lightning Sprint Car Series champion.
Driving the Kittle Motorsports/Gasper Racing/Valley Precision Products/#18, the 16-year-old became the 18th different champion in the 27-season history of the CLS. Not only did he win the season long CLS championship, but earlier in the week he sewed up the title in the annual four-race CLS vs BCRA “Civil /War Series.” In addition, he is the CLS “Rookie of the Year.”
The night started out with a pair of 10-car, 12-lap qualifying races featuring the top 20 in points from the first two nights. The odd number positions were in heat qualifier #1 and the even numbers were in qualifier two. The races were lined straight up by points with the top five finishers in each moving into the final night main event. Drivers finishing sixth on back in the qualifiers, went to a pair of B mains where they were joined by the drivers who were not among the top 20 in points.
San Diego’s A.J. Bender, who finished second in the main events on the first two nights, was the high-point driver and he won the first qualifier over Palmdale’s Eric Greco, Dominic Del Monte of Gardena, Jeff “Ponch” Dyer of Yucca Valley and 14-year-old Braden Chiaramonte of El Cajon.
Seavey, who was fresh off a win in the USAC National Sprint Car Series “Western World Championship” the week before at the Arizona Speedway, and Gasper were both in the second qualifier. Seavey captured the victory over Bellingham, Washington’s Alex Lewis. Gasper, Waterford’s Dakota Albright, and Langley, British Columbia’s Levi Klatt took the other two transfers.
The final 12 tickets to the 30-lap finale would be determined in two B main events. The first of the two went to Lakeside teenager Grant Sexton. Chris Crowder of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who won the main event the night before, track specialist Scott Kinney of Citrus Heights, Placerville local Brandon Leedy, James Turnbull of Indio and Rancho Cordova’s Craig Holsted nailed down the other transfer spots.
Emulating his son's performance in the first B main, Lakeside’s Brent Sexton came home first in B main #2. Chasing the Tennessee native across the line in the final five transfer spots were Danika’Jo Parker of Oakdale, Doug Nunes of Kingsburg, Freemont’s Greg Dennett, and the Placerville duo of Tony Fedota and Tyler Gedes.
Gasper came into the final race of the year with a comfortable 76-point lead over Greco in the championship point standings. His advantage got a further boost when he was off the pole for the 30-lap main event. Del Monte was alongside on the front row. Row two featured Lewis and Greco. Seavey manned the inside of the third row and had Bender alongside. Row four featured Dyer and soon to be first time BCRA champion Albright.
When the race began Gasper was the first to arrive in turn one with Del Monte, Greco, and Lewis in tow. By the end of the fifth lap, Gasper was a half straightaway in front of the competition. Seconds later the first halt in the race, that ended up being plagued by yellow and red flags, took place. Chiaramonte, who was having a tough week, saw his night end when he flipped in turn four. Simultaneously there was a three-car tangle in turn two. All drivers were okay, and the race resumed a few minutes later.
When the race restarted Gasper immediately put some distance on the remainder of the field. The brilliant blue #18 had things fully under control and the championship was in his grasp, but suddenly disaster struck. One of the cars near the back of the pack slid to a stop in turn one bringing out a yellow. Gasper tried to drive around him on the top and stopped for one or two seconds. He quickly got going again and was driving back to his lofty position at the front when officials informed him that he would have to go to the rear for stopping. When Gasper went to the back, that gave a glimmer of hope to Greco’s title aspirations as the former leader was going to have to deal with a lot of cars and chaos at the rear.
Del Monte was the new leader and Greco was second. Seavey, who had moved up to the third-place spot before the yellow, immediately picked up the pace on the restart. Running the wide line, he steered the John Taylor/Bullet Motorsports/Eldorado Landscape/Adco Driveline and Custom Exhaust/Jake Morgan Graphics/Superior Machine Works #51 past Greco for second as they came off turn four on lap ninth. Keeping his momentum up on the quarter-mile red clay oval, he drove by Del Monte for the lead on the same spot on the track one lap later.
Chasing his first BCRA title, Albright moved by Lewis and into the fourth spot on lap 12. Two laps later he lost a battle with the turn four cushion and spun. Like CLS point leader Gasper earlier in the race, he had to go to the back.
Greco, who tied Bender for the most wins in the CLS this year with four, got past Del Monte for second and was doing a good job of staying close to leader Seavey. However, with three laps to go, he had to deal with Bender. Using the outside line, Bender had the #2J flying and became engaged in a fierce battle that included some wheel banging for the second-place spot. That battle eventually went to Bender, but it was too late to catch Seavey who took the checkered flag with an eight-length advantage. Bender placed second for the third straight night, with Greco, Kinney and Lewis rounding out the top five.
Kinney was the race “Hard Charger” finishing fourth after starting 15th.
After the race, Seavey jumped out of his car and began looking under the rear end. “I pushed on the brakes real hard to avoid a crashed car,” the happy winner told the crowd. “I ripped one of my brake mounts off and I could feel it dragging on the ground. I was just hoping we could make it to the end. John (car owner John Taylor) built one of the nicest Lightning Sprints in the world and he called and asked me to drive. Obviously, I was not going to tell him no. It was a really fun weekend and I won two races.”
Gasper’s 76-point lead going into the finale was whittled down to 29-points at the end. Greco ended up second in the final tally and was followed by Turnbull, Dyer and Bender in the top five. The second five in the season ending standings was comprised of Del Monte, “Rockstar Jon Robertson of Torrance, Chino’s Pat Kelley, Aiden Lange of Lakewood and five time series champion Bobby Michnowicz of Oak Hills.
“It was a long season,” Gasper said after getting out of his car. “We never did anything in circles (never raced on oval tracks), so it was a whole learning curve. A lot of people helped us out throughout the year. I cannot thank them enough. Kittle Motorsports, man, I cannot thank them enough. A lot of opportunities they have given to me. Of course, my mom and dad for everything they do. My Dad working in the garage all night getting this thing dialed in. My mom scheduling rooms at hotels and taking up shifts to be able to afford this. If it wasn’t for Rowdy and Dwain Granger having the set up right for qualifying and races, I don’t think I would be up here without them, so I cannot thank them enough.”
“My dad won a couple of car owner championships with me driving,” new BCRA king Albright said after the race. “So, it is an honor to join (to join him as a champion). We had a good run going. Just drove to hard in on the cushion in three and lost fourth. I thought we could have gotten up there a little higher. Congratulations to Logan, A.J. and Eric.”
The CLS would like to thank 2021 series sponsors Hoosier Tires, T Shirts by Timeless, TJ Forged Racing Wheels, and Walker Performance Filtration. If you or your company would like to become part of the series, please call Alex Grigoreas at (909) 437-3170.
To keep up with the CLS online, please visit the website at http://racecls.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/californialightningsprints
Article Credit: Scott Daloisio
Submitted By: Dakota Albright