From the Cushion: Logan Seavey wins three races in three divisions

World of Outlaws

Ed. note: Dan Beaver will be rounding up happenings in dirt racing around the country this season for Motorsports Talk in his weekly “From the Cushion.”

Logan Seavey had a week he won’t forget any time soon.

And he might not want to return to real-world racing. On April 4, he won the Saturday Night Thunder iRacing event at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. On Monday night, he won his first World of Outlaws Late Model race on a virtual Knoxville Raceway and pocketed $1,000 for the victory. The next night, he was in victory lane again in Sprints — with another $1,000 check in his pocket.

The racing might be virtual, but the money is real.

Seavey had to make a dramatic last-lap pass to win the late model race. But he was matchless in the 35-lap sprint car race. Seavey led flag to flag.

“That track was really, really tricky,” said Seavey in a release. “The top was way too treacherous. I knew my car was really good in the middle. We did a couple of practice races. I was most happy running right through the middle, like we see Donny (Schatz) do so many times around Knoxville. That’s where my car seemed to be happy.”

Brett Michalski and Tony Gualda rounded out the podium.

Christopher Bell finished fourth, and Kevin Swindell was fifth.

Both divisions of the Outlaws are accustomed to running multiple times in a week. And there is no reason for the virtual world to behave any differently. Wednesday night, the Outlaws held a doubleheader with sprints and late models running back-to-back features, which aired live on FS1.

Swindell has found a new outlet for his competitive spirit with iRacing. After leading a couple of laps in the middle of the A Main, he took the lead for good on Lap 28 of 35 and held off Bell in second.

NASCAR star Kyle Larson finished sixth in the race that also marked the debut of Juan Pablo Montoya in a sprint car. Montoya finished 17th.

Southeastern hot shoe Corey “Flash” Gordon climbed behind the wheel of a Scott Bloomquist car and held off Nick Stroupe and Kaeden Cornell for the Late Model portion of the show.

“My heart’s racing, I’m sweating, I’m worn out,” Gordon said after the race. “This iRacing stuff’s no joke.”

Gordon was not without challengers. Weather should not affect a virtual race, but Bobby Pierce lost power at his home just before the feature began. Dramatically, the power grid gasped back to life in time for him to challenge Gordon on the opening laps.

Strong restarts allowed Cornell and Seavey to catch a glimpse of Gordon’s back bumper, but the young racer led flag to flag.

Other notables in the race included Seavey in fifth, Chase Briscoe in sixth, Swindell in in ninth and  Larson in 10th.

NASCAR star Austin Dillon lost a lap early because of connectivity issues, but he got back on the lead lap to finish 13th. Bubba Wallace was 16th in late models after finishing 15th in his sprint car.

USAC ran Race 2 of the iRacing Challenge Thursday, April 9, which was broadcast live on, an OTT platform and partner of the series. The series ran on the virtual edition of Knoxville Raceway.

The USAC Challenge is a combination of real world veterans, iRacing specialists and some who land in between, such as Aiden Purdue.

Purdue races micro sprints in the real world and made his debut in March. He finished one spot out of the final transfer in the Shamrock Classic at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin in 600 cc micro sprints. In the virtual race, Purdue survived three overtime restarts to win $500 for the race.

In fourth, Seavey was the highest finisher among the big names. He was seeking his fourth iRacing win of the week after scoring victories Saturday night in stock cars at Bristol and then sweeping the Outlaw sprints and late models at Knoxville. Seavey was followed across the finish line by Chris Windom in fifth.

Briscoe (who did win NBC’s eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge this week) finished 10th in this race after spending the first half of the race outside the top 20.

Bell was making his way through the field before a late crash. Gaining 10 positions by Lap 25 of the scheduled 30-lap event, he rolled the dice, and it came up snake eyes. In the closing laps, Bell slid from the bottom to the top, bounced off the wall and was collected by several cars before dropping all the way to 20th.

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Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”