Auto Racing: Logan Love makes the turn back to victory circle
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org July 24, 2014 4:58PM
Logan Love celebrates Friday at Grundy County Speedway after winning his first street stock feature since 2012. | Brian Nolte/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 26, 2014 6:17AM
Logan Love has his swagger back.
The 2011 Grundy County Speedway street stock champion was absolutely dominant Friday, winning his heat and a feature for the first time in two years. He did it in impressive style, finding his way to the front via the outside groove and leading the last half of the main event.
Welcome back to victory circle.
“This was our fifth night in a brand new car,” the 26-year-old Plano native said. “We thought we would come out (this season) and this is what it would be like. But it took us a while to get to this point.”
Longer than five nights, actually.
It’s been a few years since Love was the man to beat at Grundy in his yellow No. 88 Monte Carlo. After his championship season he turned a lot of his focus back to school at Northern Illinois, where he’s majoring in political science and looking for a career in law.
He and crew chief Matt Olson did have a couple of hurrahs at the tracks in 2012, most notable winning the Candyman Special race at Grundy for the second season in a row and capturing the all-around title in the annual three-race Street Stock Challenge at Grundy and Illiana speedways.
Otherwise, though, it’s been rough sledding.
In his Mid-American debut at Grundy on opening night in 2013, he suffered a mechanical malfunction and wound up crashing into the Turn 1 wall, the car landing on its side. Love missed some nights and eventually finished 10th in Mid-Am points.
This season he returned to the street stock class with a 1988 Monte Carlo. After missing the first few nights, he seemed on the right track with a fourth-place finish June 13, but a couple of weeks later contact with another driver during the feature resulted in a hard Turn 1 crash.
Love was back July 4 and finished third, but the following week was a noncontender, dropping back in the pack early and spinning out near the finish.
“We were just crazy loose,” Love said. “We’d had a rough couple of weeks, the last week being the roughest, so we were like, ‘All right, this setup isn’t working.’ ”
Love and Olson went back to the setup they used on the 1986 Monte Carlo that he drove to the championship in 2011.
It made a huge difference.
“In the feature, (Tim) Stewart started out in front of me and went right to the bottom,” Love said. “I was like, ‘There’s no room down there. I have to hang out up here.’ The car flew on the outside. It felt super-easy to drive, and I was able to get the lead.
“From there on, it was just a Sunday drive.”
Indeed, Love scorched the field, beating points leader Eddie Ligue by 1.101 seconds. He won’t be contending for a title because of too many nights missed, but he has a car to be reckoned with.
And he’s hungry.
“Yeah, definitely,” Love said, laughing. “When we have nights like this it makes me just think, ‘Man, I should have had everything done, should have been out there, should have been running for a championship.’
“It would be nice to see Jake (OLR teammate Jake Bradley) get one this year. He’s getting closer.”
Playing with numbers
Between Grundy and Illiana, there have been 19 different feature winners in the pure stocks class, 12 at Grundy in 13 races. The only repeat winners at either track are Matt Baikie (Illiana) and Spencer Leake (Illiana) with two each. The only winner at both tracks is Ryan Lagestee (one at each). ... Billy Knippenberg is still chasing his first late-model feature win of the season at Grundy, but he’s the king of the heats so far with five victories. ... Between Ricky Baker and Eddie Hoffman, they have combined for nine fast qualifying times and eight feature wins, but just one heat, by Baker. ... Grundy pure stocks title contender Justin Mikel prevailed in the 4-cylinder class and was sixth overall in a 300-lap enduro July 20 at the Dells Motor Speedway that also included 6-cylinders and V8 roadrunners and street stocks.