SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Coming off a year in which a rookie stormed into USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget competition to win three races and the series title, the question is: Will Logan Seavey be able to repeat or will someone else be able to knock him off the mountain top?
Nine drivers thus far have indicated their intention to compete on the full series trail, a class of individuals who can certainly challenge for victories right off the bat, beginning this weekend, Feb. 8-9 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla. for Winter Dirt Games X.
The first driver drawn to attention is C.J. Leary, whose seven USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car wins and pair of Silver Crown scores are evident of the talent he possesses. Though he’s only made six USAC Midget starts in his career, also consider the car he’s jumping into, the FMR Racing No. 76m, is the one Brady Bacon utilized to score five wins over the past three seasons, including the 2018 BC39 at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Cole Bodine got his feet wet with the series in 2018, making seven starts for Clauson Marshall Racing, beginning with a substitution role for the injured Zeb Wise in mid-summer. The Rossville, Ind., native was impressive, nearly pulling off a victory in just his fourth start at Sweet Springs (Mo.) Motorsports Complex, leading 28 of 40 laps and finishing second to eventual series champ Seavey. This year, Bodine moves to the Petry Motorsports stable alongside Southwest Sprint Car and off-road racing veteran Sterling Cling. Bodine and Cling will have an opportunity to learn alongside two of the best in USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons Jr. and Kevin Thomas Jr.
Seavey has a pair of new Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian Rookie teammates who hope to emulate some of what he was able to accomplish in his maiden season last year. Jesse Colwell raced his way into a coveted opportunity after winning the KKM Giveback Classic at North Carolina’s Millbridge Speedway and flourished in that role with a solid 12th place finish in his lone start in the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway. Holley Hollan made three starts in 2018 as she enters the ring for a full-time run with the series this year.
Fellow female competitor Karsyn Elledge has quite the racing pedigree as the granddaughter of Dale Earnhardt and niece of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., but the criminal justice major at IUPUI aims to make her own mark in midget racing aboard a Tucker/Boat Motorsports ride as a teammate to 2018 series runner-up Chad Boat.
Ethan Mitchell, a four-time starter with the series a year ago, is also planning a full-season effort. Now with a little bit of experience under his belt, he’s gunning to up the ante on a more expanded basis in his Bundy Built Motorsports Honda.
There was actually another rookie driver to taste victory for the first time with the USAC Midgets in 2018 in the talented Zeb Wise, who became the youngest winner ever at Lanco last August. This time,Andrew Layser steps into that rookie role for Clauson Marshall Racing. Layser has started eight events over the past two seasons as a regular with the Eastern series, including an eighth and a sixth in Eastern Midget Week races at Lanco and BAPS, respectively.
In addition to the wins, titles and accolades for Seavey last year, he pulled off the rare feat of also being named Rookie of the Year in both the USAC National Midget and Sprint series in the same season. At press time, Zane Hendricks is the only driver aiming to replicate that feat as he sets off to run the complete schedule in both series, for Matt Goodnight in the sprint car and his own midget.