Silver Crown
Tuesday, 8 August 2017


#63 Kody Swanson on his way to victory in the 2016 "Joe James/Pat O'Connor Memorial" at Salem (Ind.) Speedway. #63 Kody Swanson on his way to victory in the 2016 "Joe James/Pat O'Connor Memorial" at Salem (Ind.) Speedway. Neil Cavanah Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

The hills are calling.  And when you hear them, you have to answer.  There’s no place like Indiana’s Salem Speedway on the USAC Silver Crown schedule.  Thirty-three degrees of steeply banked turns around a .555-mile paved oval built for pure speed.  High speed.

After 58-straight years of the Sprint Cars taking center stage for the famed Discover Scott County “Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial” presented by the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers, USAC’s Silver Crown Champ Car Series made its debut in the race one year ago.  This Saturday, August 12, reigning race winner Kody Swanson of Kingsburg, California has the opportunity to become the fifth different driver to win the event twice in a row: Parnelli Jones (1960-61), Greg Leffler (1979-80) and Brian Gerster (2014-15).

He still has ways to go to reach the four-straight victories achieved by Pancho Carter in 1974-75-76-77.  Also on Swanson’s horizon is an 18th series win, which would move him past Brian Tyler and into sole possession of second on the USAC Silver Crown Series presented by TRAXXAS all-time win list.  Jack Hewitt leads all drivers with 23 career Silver Crown wins.

Swanson was a victor on the pavement in May at Brownsburg, Indiana’s Lucas Oil Raceway in the seat of the DePalma Motorsports No. 63, but the one to beat on the hardtop of late has been Bobby Santos.  The Franklin, Massachusetts native has won the last two in the series at Lucas Oil Raceway on July 20 and Toledo (OH) Speedway on July 28.  In April of this year, he was also a winner at Phoenix.  Santos, who finished 4th in last year's event, has six career USAC starts at Salem with a best of third in the midget in both 2005 and 2006.

Tucson, Arizona’s USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr. – 3rd in points – finished 3rd last year in the sunshine yellow Gene Nolen Racing No. 20 and has made more starts at Salem than any other current pavement Silver Crown competitor since his 1999 debut there in a midget.  Boise, Idaho’s Davey Hamilton hasn’t made a USAC start at Salem since the mid-1990s, but is entered this Saturday in Fred Gormly’s No. 99. 

Chris Windom took Gormly’s No. 98 to a 2nd place Salem finish and a Silver Crown title in 2016.  The Canton, Illinois native has driven to one victory thus far in the Gene Kazmark No. 92 in 2017, the season-opening “Sumar Classic” at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track, but is yet to win on the pavement in the series.  Crawfordsville, Indiana’s Jacob Wilson was victorious the first time he ever turned a wheel on the banks in a USAC Sprint Car at the 2008 “Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial” in the Wilson Brothers Racing No. 07.

USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader Justin Grant made his first Salem start last season with a solid top-five run.  Grant, of Ione, California, hopes to turn around a rocky year aboard the Hemelgarn/Carli No. 91 Silver Crown car, in which he has yet to crack the top-five.  David Byrne, driver of his own silver No. 40, finished 7th last year at Salem and the Shullsburg, Wisconsin driver has the speed to get the job done, finishing 3rd after leading 69 of the 100 laps at Phoenix’s “Copper Cup.”

Swanson, one of the great dominators of the series in recent years, lost the lead earlier in last year’ main event when Aaron Pierce got by on lap 11 before leading the next 50 laps.  With just 15 laps to go, as he bid for his first Silver Crown victory since a 2007 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, the back end of Pierce’s car snapped around between turns three and four, though he did manage to keep the car off the concrete during his spin and recovered to finish 6th.

Swanson led the remaining 15 laps for his first Salem win after beginning the night’s proceedings in qualifying by laying down the first sub-16-second Silver Crown lap at Salem, breaking Rich Vogler’s 28-year-old one-lap track record.

Shortly after this joint opened 70 years ago, the first “Joe James Memorial” was held, honoring the 1952 AAA Midwest Sprint Car champ and Salem winner who lost his life in a champ car at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in California later that November.  Larry Crockett was victorious in the inaugural memorial race held the following year.

Throughout the 1950s, during the first several years of the “Joe James Memorial,” Pat O’Connor was at the top of his game, winning the event at Salem twice in both 1954 and 1957 in addition to AAA Midwest Sprint Car titles in 1953 and 1954, plus a USAC Midwest Sprint Car championship in 1956.  O’Connor perished in a crash on the first lap of the 1958 Indianapolis 500.  In honor of his legendary career, O’Connor’s name was added alongside James on the race’s marquee to become the “Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial” as it remains today.

In the six decades since, the race has been a staple of Salem’s paved .555-mile oval, with two exceptions when it was held on the dirt.  Charlestown (Ind.) Speedway hosted the event in 1981 with Eddie Leavitt picking up the victory while Larry Rice captured the crown in 1982 at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track.

The 60th running of the “Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial” gets underway this Saturday with pits opening at 1pm, front gates opening at 3pm, practice at 3:30pm, ProSource Qualifying at 5:45pm and racing beginning at 7pm (All Times Subject to Change).



DATE: Saturday, August 12, 2017

SERIES: USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series presented by TRAXXAS

TRACK: Salem Speedway (Salem, Indiana) – ½-mile, high-banked asphalt oval

EVENT: 60th Discover Scott County “Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial” presented by the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers featuring the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series presented by TRAXXAS, Lucas Oil Great American Stocks and the Midwest Oldtimers Vintage Race Car Club

STARTING TIMES: Spectator Gates Open: 3pm. Practice 3:55-4:15pm & 4:45-5:05,  ProSource Qualifying: 5:45pm and first race at 7pm (All Times Subject to Change)

TICKETS: Adults & Teens: $23.  Ages 7-12: $5.  Ages 6 & Under: FREE! (Adult Advance Reserved Seating: $28

TRACK ADDRESS: 2729 IN-56, Salem, IN 47167

TRACK PHONE: (812) 883-6504


MEDIA COVERAGE: Watch the race one day later, on-demand at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.  Live updates on, and on the Race Monitor app.



AAA SPRINT CARS: 1953: Larry Crockett, 1954: Pat O’Connor, 1955: Bob Sweikert

USAC SPRINT CARS: 1956: Eddie Sachs, 1957: Pat O’Connor, 1958: Eddie Sachs, 1959: A.J. Foyt, 1960: Parnelli Jones, 1961: Parnelli Jones, 1962: A.J. Foyt, 1963: Roger McCluskey, 1964: Mario Andretti, 1965: Bobby Unser, 1966: Mario Andretti, 1967: Sonny Ates, 1968: Rollie Beale, 1969: Sam Sessions, 1970: Gary Bettenhausen, 1971: Rollie Beale, 1972: Lee Kunzman, 1973: Tom Bigelow, 1974: Pancho Carter, 1975: Pancho Carter, 1976: Pancho Carter, 1977: Pancho Carter, 1978: Rich Vogler, 1979: Greg Leffler, 1980: Greg Leffler, 1981: Eddie Leavitt, 1982: Larry Rice, 1988: Bob Frey, 1989: Wayne Hammond, 1990: Rich Vogler, 1991: Steve Butler, 1992: Jim Mahoney, 1993: Jim Keeker, 1994: Kenny Irwin, Jr., 1995: Tony Stewart, 1996: Chet Fillip, 1997: Dave Steele, 1998: Jay Drake, 1999: Dave Darland, 2000: Eric Gordon, 2001: Tracy Hines, 2002: Ed Carpenter, 2003: Michael Lewis, 2004: Dave Steele, 2005: Brian Tyler, 2006: Bryan Clauson, 2007: Rained Out, 2008: Jacob Wilson, 2009: Tracy Hines, 2010: Shane Hmiel

MSRXSS WING SPRINTS: 2011: Jojo Helberg, 2012: Brian Olson, 2013: Brian Olson, 2014: Brian Gerster, 2015: Brian Gerster

USAC SILVER CROWN: 2016: Kody Swanson



Apr 2: Terre Haute, IN – Terre Haute Action Track

WINNER: Chris Windom

Apr 29: Avondale, AZ – Phoenix International Raceway

WINNER: Bobby Santos

May 25: Indianapolis, IN – Indiana State Fairgrounds

WINNER: Rained Out

May 26: Brownsburg, IN – Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis

WINNER: Kody Swanson

Jun 16: Mechanicsburg, PA – Williams Grove Speedway

WINNER: Kody Swanson

Jul 20: Brownsburg, IN – Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis

WINNER: Bobby Santos

Jul 28: Toledo, OH – Toledo Speedway

WINNER: Bobby Santos

Aug 12: Salem, IN - Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery

Aug 19: Springfield, IL – Illinois State Fairgrounds

Sep 3: Du Quoin, IL – Du Quoin State Fairgrounds

Sep 23: Rossburg, OH - Eldora Speedway

------------------------ KEY DEFINITIONS -------------------------

(D) represents a dirt event

(P) represents a pavement event

# represents a daytime event



1.   (411) Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, CA)

2.   (354) Chris Windom (Canton, IL)

3.   (339) Jerry Coons, Jr. (Tucson, AZ)

4.   (286) Bobby Santos (Franklin, MA)

5.   (286) David Byrne (Shullsburg, WI)

6.   (236) Aaron Pierce (Muncie, IN)

7.   (235) Justin Grant (Ione, CA)

8.   (219) ®Damion Gardner (Concord, CA)

9.   (212) Joe Liguori (Tampa, FL)

10. (167) Tanner Swanson (Kingsburg, CA)

**(R) represents a USAC Silver Crown Rookie Driver



1.   (411) DePalma Motorsports #63

2.   (339) Gene Nolen Racing #20

3.   (327) Gene Kazmark #92

5.   (286) DJ Racing #22

4.   (286) Byrne Racing #40

8.   (239) Gene Nolen Racing #120

6.   (236) Sam Pierce #26

7.   (235) Carli/Hemelgarn Racing #91

9.   (219) Klatt Enterprises #6

10. (179) Breidinger Motorsports #80



1.   (219) Damion Gardner (Concord, CA)

2.   (166) Joss Moffatt (Columbus, IN)

3.   (149) Joe Axsom (Franklin, IN)

4.   (110) Davey Hamilton, Jr. (Boise, ID)

5.   (95) A.J. Russell (Clovis, CA)

6.   (93) Kevin Studley (Plainfield, IN)

7.   (90) Toni Breidinger (Hillsborough, CA) & Hunter Schuerenberg (Sikeston, MO)

9.   (89) Annie Breidinger

10. (79) Dakota Jackson (Elizabethtown, IN)



1. (3) Bobby Santos (Apr. 29 at Phoenix Raceway, Jul. 20 at Lucas Oil Raceway & Jul. 28 at Toledo Speedway)

2.(2) Kody Swanson (May 26 at Lucas Oil Raceway & Williams Grove Speedway on Jun. 16)

3. (1) Chris Windom (Apr. 2 at the Terre Haute Action Track)



1. (186) Bobby Santos

2. (185) Kody Swanson

3. (83) Damion Gardner

4. (69) David Byrne

5. (51) Chris Windom

6. (18) Shane Cockrum

7. (7) C.J. Leary

8. (1) Tanner Swanson



1. (6) Kody Swanson

2. (5) Chris Windom

3. (4) Jerry Coons, Jr. & Bobby Santos

5. (2) Aaron Pierce & Tanner Swanson

7. (1) Brady Bacon, David Byrne, Damion Gardner, Davey Hamilton, C.J. Leary, Joe Liguori & Hunter Schuerenberg



1.   (6) Jerry Coons, Jr. & Kody Swanson

3.   (5) Chris Windom

4.   (4) David Byrne & Bobby Santos

6.   (3) Aaron Pierce

7.   (2) Brady Bacon, Annie Briedinger, Damion Gardner, Justin Grant, Davey Hamilton, Joe Liguori, A.J. Russell & Tanner Swanson

15. (1) Joe Axsom, Toni Breidinger, Patrick Bruns, Shane Butler, Henry Clarke, Shane Cockrum, Dave Darland, Davey Hamilton, Jr., Dakota Jackson, Patrick Lawson, C.J. Leary, Joss Moffatt, Austin Nemire, Hunter Schuerenberg & Kevin Studley



1.   (6) David Byrne, Jerry Coons, Jr., Justin Grant, Kody Swanson & Chris Windom

6.   (5) Damion Gardner, Joe Liguori & Aaron Pierce

9.   (4) Joe Axsom, Joss Moffatt & Bobby Santos

12. (3) Matt Goodnight, Davey Hamilton, Jr., Bill Rose & Tanner Swanson

16. (2) Brady Bacon, J.C. Bland, Annie Breidinger, Toni Breidinger, Patrick Bruns, Steve Buckwalter, Shane Cockrum, Shane Cottle, Dave Darland, Davey Hamilton, Dakota Jackson, Patrick Lawson, C.J. Leary, Austin Nemire, Johnny Petrozelle, A.J. Russell, Hunter Schuerenberg, Mark Smith, Kevin Studley & Troy Thompson

36. (1) Dave Berkheimer, Shane Butler, Henry Clarke, Tyler Courtney, Cody Gerhardt, Ryan Newman & Casey Shuman



Apr. 2: Terre Haute Action Track – Hunter Schuerenberg (4th)

Apr. 29: Phoenix Raceway – Shane Butler (6th)

May 26: Lucas Oil Raceway – Kevin Studley (7th)

Jun. 16: Williams Grove Speedway – Damion Gardner (2nd)

Jul. 20: Lucas Oil Raceway – Davey Hamilton, Jr. (9th)

Jul. 28: Toledo Speedway – Joe Axsom (7th)



Apr 2: Terre Haute Action Track – Dave Darland (20th to 7th)

Apr 29: Phoenix Raceway – Jerry Coons, Jr. (15th to 5th)

May 26: Lucas Oil Raceway – Kevin Studley (15th to 7th)

Jun. 16: Williams Grove Speedway – Austin Nemire (15th to 7th)

Jul. 20: Lucas Oil Raceway – Annie Breidinger (18th to 10th)

Jul. 28: Toledo Speedway – Joe Axsom (11th to 7th)



Apr 2: Terre Haute Action Track – Patrick Bruns

Apr 29: Phoenix Raceway – Chris Windom

May 26: Lucas Oil Raceway – Troy Thompson

Jun. 16: Williams Grove Speedway – Steve Buckwalter

Jul. 20: Lucas Oil Raceway – Joss Moffatt

Jul. 28: Toledo Speedway – Joss Moffatt



1. (3) Kody Swanson

2. (1) Damion Gardner, Bobby Santos & Tanner Swanson



1. (1) Mark Smith



1. [23 wins] Jack Hewitt

2. [17 wins] Kody Swanson & Brian Tyler

4. [16 wins] Dave Steele

5. [15 wins] J.J. Yeley

6. [14 wins] Dave Darland & Chuck Gurney

8. [12 wins] Jimmy Sills

9. [11 wins] Bobby East

10. [10 wins] Gary Bettenhausen & Mike Bliss

12. [9 wins] Tracy Hines & Bobby Santos

14. [7 wins] Jerry Coons, Jr., Rick Hood, George Snider & Tanner Swanson

18. [6 wins] Tom Bigelow, Russ Gamester, Kenny Irwin, Jr., Jason Leffler, Ken Schrader, Al Unser & Chris Windom

25. [5 wins] Mario Andretti, Donnie Beechler, Pancho Carter, Jay Drake, Tony Elliott, Bud Kaeding, Sheldon Kinser, Larry Rice

33. [4 wins] Jeff Swindell & Rich Vogler

35. [3 wins] Steve Butler, Shane Cockrum, Cameron Dodson, A.J. Fike, Levi Jones, Kasey Kahne, Jim Keeker, Steve Kinser, Bobby Olivero, Johnny Parsons, Aaron Pierce, Ron Shuman, Tony Stewart, Tyler Walker, Paul White

50. [2 wins] Pat Abold, Steve Chassey, Bryan Clauson, Larry Dickson, Bill Engelhart, A.J. Foyt, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Joe Saldana, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Cole Whitt, Josh Wise & Doug Wolfgang

64. [1 win] Teddy Beach, Christopher Bell, Jeff Bloom, David Byrne, Marvin Carman, Shane Carson, Bob Cicconi, Herb Copeland, Shane Cottle, Bruce Field, Aaron Fike, Chet Fillip, Bob Frey, Eric Gordon, John Heydenreich, Gary Hieber, Shane Hmiel, Shane Hollingsworth, Jimmy Horton, Jackie Howerton, Kevin Huntley, Kenny Jacobs, Bubby Jones, Keith Kauffman, Jimmy Kite, Chuck Leary, C.J. Leary, Eddie Leavitt, Jason McCord, Jim McElreath, Lealand McSpadden, Mat Neely, Brad Noffsinger, Stevie Reeves, Wayne Reutimann Jr., Danny Smith, Kevin Thomas, Rich Tobias Jr., Chris Urish & Billy Vukovich



1971: George Snider; 1972: A.J. Foyt; 1973: Al Unser; 1974: Mario Andretti; 1975: Jimmy Caruthers; 1976: Billy Cassella; 1977: Larry Rice; 1978: Pancho Carter; 1979: Bobby Olivero; 1980: Gary Bettenhausen; 1981: Larry Rice; 1982: Ken Schrader; 1983: Gary Bettenhausen; 1984: Dave Blaney; 1985: Rick Hood; 1986: Jack Hewitt; 1987: Jack Hewitt; 1988: Steve Butler; 1989: Chuck Gurney; 1990: Jimmy Sills; 1991: Jeff Gordon; 1992: Steve Butler; 1993: Mike Bliss; 1994: Jimmy Sills; 1995: Tony Stewart; 1996: Jimmy Sills; 1997: Dave Darland; 1998: Jason Leffler; 1999: Ryan Newman; 2000: Tracy Hines; 2001: Paul White; 2002: J.J. Yeley; 2003: J.J. Yeley; 2004: Dave Steele; 2005: Dave Steele; 2006: Bud Kaeding; 2007: Bud Kaeding; 2008: Jerry Coons Jr.; 2009: Bud Kaeding; 2010: Levi Jones; 2011: Levi Jones; 2012: Bobby East; 2013: Bobby East; 2014: Kody Swanson; 2015: Kody Swanson; 2016: Chris Windom