LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — On the eve of the Lawrenceburg Speedway Fall Nationals, Kyle Cummins firmly stated that Lawrenceburg is the place where he really wanted to win.
On Saturday night, the Princeton, Ind. native got the one that had eluded him for so long as he slid into the lead on a restart just after the halfway mark and carried onward to a $10,000 top prize in the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship’s final Midwest event of the season.
His fourth win of the season was his second of the weekend, sweeping both events over the past two nights at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway and Lawrenceburg in his Rock Steady Racing/Ultimate Predator Boats – Mid-America Safety Solutions/Mach-1/Stanton Chevy.
Cummins has now laid claim to dominance at Haubstadt, Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway and Kokomo in addition to USAC victories at Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway, Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway and now Lawrenceburg, which, out of all of them, Cummins admitted meant the most to him for one simple reason – it scares him to death, quote unquote.
“For me personally, this is the biggest win of my career,” an unabashed Cummins stated. “Those (other) places don’t intimidate me but going into turn three here does. To win here and win $10,000, it just proves we can win anywhere we go.”
Full disclosure – Cummins hasn’t exactly gone winless at Lawrenceburg in his career. He did collect a victory in a local, non-sanctioned show at the track in 2015. However, this was his first with USAC, which elevated him to 14 career series wins.
Cummins started the 30-lap main from the outside of the front row and immediately engaged in a see-saw battle for the lead with pole sitter Logan Seavey throughout the first pair of laps with Seavey fending off and crossing over Cummins’ relentless assault.
About as quickly as it began, the race churned to a halt on the second lap when 13th starting Saban Bibent became sideways in turn two and collected Keith Sheffer II, Tripp Gerrald and J.J. Hughes. Hughes got the worst end of the deal, which sent him flipping over. He, Bibent and first-time USAC starter Gerrald were all unable to restart. Sheffer managed to restart and finish 16th.
Seavey stretched his lead out in the immediacy of the lap three restart to boast a half-straight advantage over Cummins as both rode the path of the treacherous high line at the head of the field.
Back behind Seavey, the battle raged on for second between Cummins and Grant. Grant slid past in turn three on lap 15, but Cummins countered the move and retook the spot. Grant tried to throw one in turns one and two a half-lap later to no avail, allowing Cummins to pull away from Seavey, yet remained a full two seconds behind leader Seavey.
A yellow flag on lap 17 came about when sixth running C.J. Leary slowed with a flat right-rear tire.
Insanity ensued on the resumption as Cummins stumbled atop the turn cushion, allowing Grant to drive under Cummins for the second position. That, in turn, caused a chain reaction which forced fourth-running Meseraull to check up behind Cummins. Behind those two, Anton Hernandez and Mitchel Moles ruffled each other’s feathers, sending Hernandez sideways.
However, 12th place Max Adams’ misfortune was a massive break for both Cummins and Hernandez after Adams spun into the infield and stopped in turn three to bring out the yellow. Due to the incident, the running order reverted to the last completed lap, sending Cummins’ back to second and Hernandez to sixth for the next restart.
Survive, advance, overcome and conquer. That was the name of the game for Cummins as he wrestled his mind on how to navigate each end of a tricky Lawrenceburg Speedway.
“I could run one and two all day long around the top but, getting into three, I don’t know what it is but I’m just not good,” Cummins admitted. “I’m uncomfortable, I was hitting the fence and I was trying a couple different lines. Seavey and Grant are the best, they can just bust it in there; they’re fearless up there. I started slowing down getting into three just a little bit more but stayed a little higher and it seemed to work out.”
Those were the two main culprits Cummins faced in his venture while sandwiched in second between leader Seavey and third-running Grant as they confronted yet another lap 17 restart. This one proved to be a charm for Cummins as he flicked the wheel and took the low line to slide up in front of Seavey and take over possession of the race lead.
The ride up front nearly became short-lived for Cummins as he drifted over the turn two cushion on lap 21. That allowed Seavey to gain on him and use the momentum to drift past Cummins in turn three to briefly take ownership of the number one spot before Cummins pitched his car sideways and drove down the turn four banking to retake the lead.
From that point forward, Cummins spurted away from Seavey, but had loads of traffic to handle.
Cummins successfully completed a daring slide job of Jadon Rogers in turns one and two with two to go that saw Cummins’ lead sliced by a full second, down to just a tick over a half second.
But that’s all the space Cummins needed as he finished off yet another remarkable performance, winning by .797 seconds over Seavey, Grant and hard charger Moles (10th to fourth) with Brady Bacon rounding out the top five.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) led a race-high 16 laps before going on to finish second in his Dwight Cheney/Racing Optics – Steel-Co USA – Barnes Systems/DRC/Claxton Chevy.
“I felt good the first time I went to the top on that first restart; I got a good launch,” Seavey recalled. “The second time, I took off more in the slick and I got spinning a little bit. I had two options. Either protect and let him get a big run down the back stretch and slide me in three or try to get going and get my momentum up as quickly as possible. Obviously, I made the wrong decision. It would’ve been better to protect myself in one and two and let him slide me in three and four. There was so much moisture in the middle, he just went right back by me. I made the wrong decision on that restart and gave it to him.”
Grant made it seven career top-five finishes at the Fall Nationals, but it was his first since 2019 in the seat of his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – MPV Express – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.
“That darn yellow there at the end,” Grant lamented. “I got Kyle on the restart there, then he did the same thing to Seavey. I couldn’t even keep track of what was going on; it was a handful. You could blow through the cushion, and it could trip you up. We were running around there at a pretty high rate of speed, trying to hang on and keep the thing out of the fence. It was a lot of fun and I felt like we had a really good racecar, but we caught the yellow wrong there and then just got in the scrum on the restart and had to fend that off. By then, Kyle was off and running.”
USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, Lawrenceburg Speedway, Lawrenceburg, Ind., Oct. 1, 2022
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. C.J. Leary, 77m, Michael-13.926; 2. Thomas Meseraull, 2E, Epperson-14.013; 3. Mitchel Moles, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-14.093; 4. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-14.143; 5. Anton Hernandez, 2B, 2B Racing-14.168; 6. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-14.202; 7. Logan Seavey, 42, Cheney-14.208; 8. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.215; 9. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.320; 10. Saban Bibent, 98, Wedgewood-14.326; 11. Max Adams, 17GP, Dutcher-14.385; 12. Kevin Thomas Jr., 17, Dutcher-14.445; 13. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-14.465; 14. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-14.539; 15. Jake Swanson, 21AZ, Team AZ-14.566; 16. Emerson Axsom, 47BC, Clauson Marshall Newman-14.578; 17. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-14.641; 18. Jason McDougal, 5m, KO-14.687; 19. Jadon Rogers, 14, Engler-14.706; 20. Tripp Gerrald, 4G, Gerrald-14.914; 21. Keith Sheffer II, 86, Sheffer-14.960; 22. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-15.418.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Emerson Axsom, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Matt Westfall, 4. Justin Grant, 5. C.J. Leary, 6. Jadon Rogers, 7. Saban Bibent, 8. Brandon Mattox. 2:00.04
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Chase Stockon, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Max Adams, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Anton Hernandez, 6. J.J. Hughes, 7. Tripp Gerrald. 2:00.03
PIT STOP USA / ROD END SUPPLY THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Jason McDougal, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Kyle Cummins, 4. Jake Swanson, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Mitchel Moles, 7. Keith Sheffer II. 2:02.47
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Cummins (2), 2. Logan Seavey (1), 3. Justin Grant (4), 4. Mitchel Moles (10), 5. Brady Bacon (11), 6. Anton Hernandez (3), 7. Thomas Meseraull (5), 8. Chase Stockon (8), 9. Robert Ballou (12), 10. Max Adams (14), 11. Emerson Axsom (7), 12. C.J. Leary (6), 13. Jake Swanson (18), 14. Jadon Rogers (19), 15. Matt Westfall (16), 16. Keith Sheffer II (21), 17. Brandon Mattox (22), 18. Kevin Thomas Jr. (15), 19. Jason McDougal (9), 20. Saban Bibent (13), 21. Tripp Gerrald (20), 22. J.J. Hughes (17). NT