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Perseverance! Swanson Returns from Injury to Dominate Toledo USAC Silver Crown Opener




Toledo, Ohio (April 20, 2024)………Four months ago, Kody Swanson saw his season and the future of his racing career hang in the balance.


A Christmas morning accident at his parents’ home resulted in a severely broken left foot. Multiple surgeries later, the Kingsburg, Calif. native was affixed with a walking boot and a pair of crutches. Throughout the arduous rehabilitation process, Swanson longed for the day that he could return to the USAC Silver Crown National Championship.


On Saturday afternoon at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway, that long awaited day had finally arrived.


Just six days following a runner-up finish with the 500 Sprint Tour in his first race back, Swanson one-upped himself during the Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic Presented by Marco’s Pizza. He led off by taking the top time in practice, then laid down the fastest lap in qualifying and concluded with a masterpiece driving performance in which he led all 100 laps in succession.


Swanson’s 41 career Silver Crown victories are far and away above anyone else who’s ever handled a champ car. However, without question, this win had an even more significant sense of accomplishment, perhaps more than any of the previous 40 he’s earned during his illustrious career.


“I don’t want to keep talking about it, but I don’t want it to get lost on how important it is to me,” Swanson stated. “My foot was wrecked. But I had so many people who were a part of it and helped me recover – Dr. Tim Weber for patching me back together and everybody who’s been a part of it. That’s carried me through this winter to race like I did today and to have a chance to get back in a car. God blessed me and I’m extremely grateful.”


Swanson’s record shattering afternoon at the 1/2-mile paved oval came aboard his Doran-Binks Racing/Mission Foods – Wilke Orthodontics – Glenn Farms/Beast/Lanci Ford. When the question of “who’ll stop the reign” is posed regarding Swanson’s prowess at Toledo, as it turns out, nobody has been able to since 2017.


His eighth overall Silver Crown victory at Toledo (2011-15-18-19-21-22-23-24), tied him for the all-time record in terms of the most victories by any driver at a single track. He’s now equaled with Jack Hewitt and his eight wins at Eldora Speedway along with that of his younger brother, Tanner Swanson, who scored eight at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.


Furthermore, Kody’s sixth consecutive Silver Crown triumph at Toledo produced an all-time USAC record for the most consecutive wins at one single track. The previous standard had been held by, not surprisingly, himself, with five-in-a-row at Salem Speedway between 2016-20. Dave Steele also won five-straight at Phoenix International Raceway from 2002-06, a dominant stretch that has a highly personal significance to him.


“It’s incredibly special because Dave Steele had five and he dominated Phoenix and the Copper World,” Swanson recalled. “That was the season opener for many years, and it was the first Silver Crown race I ever got to see in person. I was just a fan, and when he won at Phoenix, that was one of those five.”


Even more, Swanson’s fifth career USAC Silver Crown season opening win also tied him for the all-time lead alongside Steele.


What’s interesting is that Swanson has achieved his six-race Toledo winning streak with three different teams over that time span: DePalma Motorsports (2018), Nolen Racing (2019) and Doran-Binks Racing (2021-22-23-24). 


Swanson, the only driver to have started all 11 Silver Crown events at Toledo, has now led 778 out of the 1200 laps ever run during the past 11 editions, which puts it at an astonishing clip of 64.8 percent.


On a chilly day in which temperatures hovered around the 50-degree mark at its peak, Swanson had the field covered, but not in a blanket. His qualifying lap at an average speed of 120.676 mph was the fastest a Silver Crown car had run at Toledo in five years. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, Swanson’s Toledo stranglehold seemingly never loosens its grip. Nonetheless, Swanson admitted that the cool temps bring out the best in him.


“I just feel like I get along with Toledo Speedway better when it’s cold,” Swanson explained. “I feel like, sometimes, I struggle here in August, and last year, I was behind. I felt like C.J. (Leary) had us but he had some misfortune on his part which allowed us to get back into it. To have a streak like this, you’re going to have to have a little good luck.”


Only one caution slowed the proceedings, that being a lap 32 spin off turn four by Rookie Jackson Macenko who was making his Silver Crown debut on this day. He ran as high as seventh and was running 12th at the time of the incident which involved no contact.


Swanson’s winning margin was 3.441 seconds with C.J. Leary taking second. Tyler Roahrig finished third while Justin Grant took fourth and Bobby Santos rounded out the top-five.


For the second straight season, C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) finished as the runner-up to Swanson at the finish line. With that said, this one came in a much more pleasant experience following last year’s disappointment when he led a race-high 77 laps before a tire bleeder issue dropped him to second near the end of the race. All in all, it was a solid start to the campaign for Leary and his Klatt Enterprises/Wilwood Disc Brakes – Brown & Miller Racing Solutions – Penske – Hoosier Tire/Beast/Ford.


“Second is definitely a lot easier to take this year than it was last year,” Leary admitted. “I felt like we just weren’t as good as Kody. On short run speed, we were pretty good, but we were pretty snug all day. We kept losing stagger and I don’t know if it was the cold temperatures or what. On a 10 or 12-lap run, I felt like we could keep pace with Kody, but after that, we would get tight. All in all, it was a good day. I’m not a pavement guy, but it’s a lot of fun coming out and racing with these guys.”


Tyler Roahrig (Plymouth, Ind.), a veteran of only six previous Silver Crown starts, entered this season with a brand-new team making its first ever series appearance on Saturday at Toledo. In the end, they couldn’t have asked for a much better start to their racing partnership. Roahrig began his race from the outside of the front row, then fell back to fourth by the opening lap before getting by Grant just five laps before midway to swipe the final spot on the podium in his Mike Newman/Firstline Systems, Inc. – Newman Racing – Drywall Distributors/Beast/Jackson Chevy. In seven career Silver Crown starts, Roahrig has now finished third or better in five of them.


“I could catch (Leary), but then he’d get away. I just didn’t have quite enough to pass him,” Roahrig acknowledged. “It was a great first outing for our 41 team. Mike Newman made this all possible for me. I didn’t really have a Silver Crown ride after last year. I’ve just got to thank everyone that’s a part of this team. It sure was a battle getting this thing done this week.”


Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) started 18th and advanced through the field to an 11th place finish, earning herself hard charger honors for the day, which came after her Sam Pierce owned team changed a right rear tire following qualifying.



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USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 20, 2024 – Toledo Speedway – Toledo, Ohio – 1/2-Mile Paved Oval – Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic Presented By Marco’s Pizza


HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 77, Doran/Binks-14.916; 2. Tyler Roahrig, 41, Newman-15.147; 3. C.J. Leary, 6, Klatt-15.167; 4. Bobby Santos, 98, DJ-15.201; 5. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-15.203; 6. Logan Seavey, 22, Rice/Abacus-15.220; 7. Jackson Macenko, 124, Hayes/Bohanon-15.224; 8. Dakoda Armstrong, 5, C & A-15.274; 9. Mario Clouser, 92, Kazmark-15.354; 10. Derek Bischak, 131, Bischak-15.538; 11. Taylor Ferns, 555, Ferns-15.599; 12. Davey Hamilton Jr., 19, Legacy-15.740; 13. Trey Burke, 60, Legacy/Wilson-15.839; 14. Gregg Cory, 32, Williams/Cory-15.884; 15. Kyle Steffens, 08, Steffens-15.887; 16. Jerry Coons Jr., 24, Haggenbottom-15.896; 17. Kaylee Bryson, 26, Pierce-15.997; 18. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott-16.107; 19. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-18.564; 20. Nathan Moore, 48, Thomas/Moore-20.083.


FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. C.J. Leary (3), 3. Tyler Roahrig (2), 4. Justin Grant (5), 5. Bobby Santos (4), 6. Mario Clouser (9), 7. Logan Seavey (6), 8. Taylor Ferns (11), 9. Jerry Coons Jr. (14), 10. Davey Hamilton Jr. (10), 11. Kaylee Bryson (18), 12. Kyle Steffens (15), 13. Gregg Cory (12), 14. Jackson Macenko (7), 15. Travis Welpott (16), 16. Trey Burke (13), 17. Dakoda Armstrong (8), 18. Dave Berkheimer (17), 19. Nathan Moore (19). 28:00.63


FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-100 Kody Swanson.


USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Kody Swanson-76, 2-C.J. Leary-67, 3-Tyler Roahrig-64, 4-Justin Grant-61, 5-Bobby Santos-58, 6-Mario Clouser-55, 7-Logan Seavey-52, 8-Taylor Ferns-49, 9-Jerry Coons Jr.-46, 10-Davey Hamilton Jr.-43.


OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Robert Ballou-37, 2-Tye Mihocko-32, 3-Joey Amantea-29, 4-Alex Bright-27, 5-Logan Seavey-21, 6-Kevin Thomas Jr.-21, 7-Mitchel Moles-21, 8-C.J. Leary-20, 9-Kyle Cummins-18, 10-Matt Westfall-15.


NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 5, 2024 – Winchester Speedway – Winchester, Indiana – 1/2-Mile Paved Oval – 33rd Rich Vogler Classic



CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:


Dirt Draft Practice Fastest Driver: Kody Swanson (15.042)


Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifier: Kody Swanson (14.916)


Hard Charger: Kaylee Bryson (18th to 11th)


Story - USAC Racing

Photo - Jack Reitz

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