Race Weekend Central

Dirty (Half) Dozen: 6 Storylines From USAC’s Sprint Car Eastern Storm

1. Give Brady Bacon the deed to Grandview

Yes, winning five of six races is not as impressive as winning all six, but Brady Bacon’s flag-to-flag win in Tuesday’s USAC Eastern Storm opener at Grandview Speedway marked just that, his fifth Eastern Storm win in six races at Grandview.

The defending USAC national sprint car champion never lost the lead, but he had to earn Tuesday’s win, with a determined home-state driver in Briggs Danner keeping pace with him for much of the feature race. 

What’s more, Grandview was the clear winner in tour kickoff races this Tuesday. The Eastern Storm opener featured two classes and ran crisply, with the headline USAC feature done before 10 p.m. local time. 

That was a stark contrast from the DIRTcar Summer Nationals opener at Kankakee County Speedway in Illinois that same night, a bloated four-class program that started hours late after a hauler knocked down a power line at the track, then hosted a parade of a super late model feature on a visibly rubbered-down surface.

2. Briggs Danner breakout no fluke

Let’s go back to Mr. Danner for a second. Yes, Wednesday’s Eastern Storm feature at Bridgeport Motorsports Park was the only one of the series not to take place in Danner’s home state of Pennsylvania, but it was also here where Danner proved that his runner-up finish to Brady Bacon at Grandview was no fluke.  

Danner again proved a dogged challenger for the race leader, this time Thomas Meseraull, for much of the early part of the feature. Then, out of nowhere, a fuel pickup problem for T-Mez left Danner to inherit the race lead in the closing laps.

It wouldn’t pan out as a breakout win, with Danner yielding the lead and win to eventual Eastern Storm points champion Logan Seavey. But two top-five finishes while mixing it up with the USAC national tour regulars was quite the accomplishment for young gun Danner, a driver who runs regularly in the USAC East Coast Series, a 360 sprint car division as opposed to the banner 410s contested during Eastern Storm.

3. Selinsgrove rainout and an encouraging social media lesson

Selinsgrove made an early decision to rain out its scheduled Eastern Storm feature Thursday night, and based on the forecast, it was likely the right call. Given the demands of Eastern Storm’s schedule providing no rest days, as well as diesel fuel prices well over $6 a gallon everywhere in Pennsylvania, opting to cancel a race that was in the core of a potential tornado watch that evening was the right decision.

What was a bigger surprise to me, looking at Selinsgrove’s Facebook page, was just how composed and understanding the fanbase was of the early cancelation. There’s no doubting that the threshold for canceling events has gone down in the 2022 season, be it because of streaming allowing fans not to show up for risky weather or the ongoing tire shortage. But seeing sanity on Facebook was a welcome sight on a night where there were no racecars to be seen.

4. Williams Grove proves forgiving

Williams Grove Speedway and forgiving are not two words that I usually associate, but it was appropriate Friday night in a number of contexts. For one, I was at the track Friday night taking my aunt and cousins to their first ever sprint car race, and the breeze mercifully broke the 90-degree heat of the day.

USAC feature winner Justin Grant was also proof positive of said forgiveness. Grant, who absolutely dominated Friday night’s feature, missed not one, but two, restarts entering turn 1 and 2, getting high in the corner and flat-out missing the cushion. Despite both of those unforced errors, Grant was never caught for the lead. Grant even alluded to that messy run in his victory lane interview, commenting that riding on such an edge is what makes sprint car racing fun.

While I do agree with that statement, and I can also commend Grant for driving that far on the ragged side despite leading the race, the race fan part of me also lamented seeing a feature where Grant’s No. 4 was so much better than the race of the field that he could all but hit the turn 2 wall and still easily keep the lead.

5. Let’s deed another Pennsylvania racetrack

While we’re deeding away racetracks in Pennsylvania, Logan Seavey certainly staked his claim to the Port Royal Speedway Saturday night. Not only did Seavey win the Eastern Storm feature in the sprint car ranks, he doubled up on the night with a last-lap pass to win the Silver Crown Series feature as well. The wins were a career checkmark for the accomplished open-wheeler.

The sprint car feature was the less exciting of the two on the track, but it was ultimately a win that all but clinched the Eastern Storm title for the former ARCA Racing Series winner.

6. All that’s right & wrong with Bloomsburg

On the one hand, seeing the Eastern Storm end with a caution-free 30-lap feature at the Bloomsburg Fair Raceway was a treat, as it marked the first time I’ve watched a sprint car race on the track. Considering said track was designed by USAC fixture Levi Jones, it’s been frustrating to see Bloomsburg’s schedule in 2022 dominated by big-car races. I attended the Short Track Super Series race at the track a few weeks back, and found the facility to be too small where it should be wider and vice versa for full-size modifieds.

See also
Thinkin' Dirty: 2022 World of Outlaws Late Models at Bloomsburg

The sprint cars certainly looked right at home on the 0.375-mile oval, and Brady Bacon’s triumph was a fitting bookend to the Eastern Storm that he opened with a win at Grandview. But there was also something underwhelming about the tour ending at Bloomsburg on a Sunday night. The field of 17 sprint cars was the smallest of the Eastern Storm, and the race, while decent, lacked the spectacle of Saturday night at Port Royal.

Imagine if USAC had scheduled Port Royal’s sprint car/Silver Crown doubleheader as the finale, with Logan Seavey clinching the Eastern Storm and ending the series with a last-lap Silver Crown pass to boot. Was Bloomsburg a bridge too far?

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via