By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
When the ARCA Racing Series takes the green flag on Sunday afternoon at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Logan Seavey will make his debut and take the next step up the ladder as part of the Toyota Racing development program. Seavey will pilot the No. 20 Toyota for Venturini Motorsports on the one-mile dirt track in Springfield as well as again on Labor Day weekend on the dirt at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Coming off a 2017 season in which he won POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series championship, the plan for the 21-year-old dirt ace was to run the midget full-time this season for Keith Kunz Motorsports, the same team that has produced Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell.
“I started the season just happy to be racing midgets the whole year with the best team possible,” Seavey told Motorsports Tribune. “With the relationship with Toyota with the midget team, they help me out a lot. I started doing a couple of pavement late model races last winter in Arizona, maybe three of four. I just kept racing midgets the rest of the year and they set me up to do a Southern Super Series race a few months ago. Then they told me that I was going to race a truck at Eldora so that was a big step for me.”
Seavey made his name known on the NASCAR national series stage in July when he made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Eldora Speedway in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. Seavey led 53 laps and was leading as late as Lap 144 before a couple of late cautions and ensuing restarts on older tires dropped him back to an eighth-place result.
Seavey’s two ARCA starts were planned prior to the Truck debut, but he joked that his performance at Eldora definitely didn’t hurt.
“The truck race definitely made them happy about their decision on the ARCA races I think. If I went out there and ran in the back they might have been hoping they picked somebody else for these races,” the California native said with a chuckle.
“They were all happy. We were close so it was good overall for my Truck debut. To go out there and run up front all day was a pretty good feeling and it made me a lot more confident going in to the ARCA races that we will be able to have a shot to win. By no means is it going to be easy. It’s still a completely different car than the truck and a totally opposite race track. It will be interesting for sure.”
The one-mile dirt track on the site of the Illinois State Fair is a unique layout and will be twice the size of any track Seavey has competed on in his career.
“For me, I watch all the video that I can on the races. I try to find onboard cameras from inside the car and see how they use the throttle through the corner. I think it’s going to be more of learning the lifting points for these super long straightaways.”
Seavey will also rely on input from fellow dirt drivers Chase Briscoe and Kevin Swindell, who went to victory lane at Springfield in a Venturini Motorsports Toyota in 2014. Briscoe and Seavey are good friends and Briscoe offered high praise for Seavey, who also drives sprint cars for Chase Briscoe Racing, after competing in the Truck race at Eldora.
“That’s a name that NASCAR people are definitely going to have to get familiar (with). I think he’s probably the next big thing, honestly,” Briscoe said.
On Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway, fellow Toyota Racing development and Keith Kunz Motorsports product Bell offered his thoughts on the importance of the Toyota program to the sport as a whole.
“What’s really cool is that you – especially on the dirt side between (Kyle) Larson and myself and now Logan Seavey has run a truck race – you get all of these kids that are in the lower forms of motorsports and there for a while it kind of seemed hopeless to get to NASCAR and now that avenue is open,” Bell said. “It’s open and everyone sees it. Every kid talks about Toyota. That’s where they want to be. They want to be part of the Toyota driver development program, so it’s really special to see that and see how everybody wants to be there. That seems to be the clearest way to get up to our level right now and they’re really doing a great job of that.”
Seavey has already posted five wins and 18 podiums across 22 races combined between the P1 Insurance National Midget Series, where he currently leads the championship standings, and the POWRi National Midget Series for KKM in 2018.
“A year-and-a-half to two years ago, I was a total unknown to everybody. To be two years later leading the USAC Midget points and driving for Keith Kunz in general, he’s a legend in the sport and to have the No. 67 on my car is pretty special. Its stuff that you try not to take for granted because I wanted it so bad just such a short time ago and now I’m there. It’s pretty special and I’m definitely fortunate to be here. We’ve had a pretty incredible year with five wins and too many second places to count. I wish we could have turned a few more of those in to wins, wins are always special, but we still have a lot of the season left to win some more.”