Silver Crown
Wednesday, 24 April 2019


Kody Swanson on his way to the season-opening USAC Silver Crown victory in March at Memphis. Kody Swanson on his way to the season-opening USAC Silver Crown victory in March at Memphis. Jim Viviano Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Toledo, Ohio (April 24, 2019)………Following his first Toledo Speedway USAC Silver Crown triumph in 2011, Kody Swanson had the opportunity in victory lane to meet 1973 USAC National Sprint Car champion Rollie Beale, namesake of this Saturday’s Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness “Rollie Beale Classic” USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series race.

After Beale’s passing in 2014, that one moment and this race have become so much more to Swanson, not only for a chance to honor the Toledo racing legend, but also now to race in his memory.

Since then, the Kingsburg, Calif. native has reeled off two more “Rollie Beale Classic” wins, in 2015 and again in 2018, giving him a batting average of .500 in the six Silver Crown events held at the half-mile, high-banked paved oval.

Last year’s win put him in select company at the time, making him one of only two individuals to have reached the 20-win mark and, as we obviously would learn throughout the season, he wasn’t even close to being done yet.  It was the start of a string of a series-record five-straight Silver Crown wins for the four-time champ.

Swanson now comes into Saturday’s race at Toledo having won five consecutive pavement USAC Silver Crown races, surpassing Dave Steele’s record of four-straight in 2005 following his season-opening win at Memphis International Raceway in March in his series debut for Nolen Racing.

Last Spring at Toledo, Swanson, driving for DePalma Motorsports, Swanson overcame an uncharacteristically subpar qualifying run (for them) that placed them ninth for the start of the 100-lap main event.

“It’s hard to believe we had to make such big changes after practice,” Swanson reflected.  “We were pretty speedy, but knew it just wasn’t right.  I thought I screwed up and gave it all away.  I had to start behind eight very good racecars and drivers.  At Toledo, that’s pretty tricky.  We made even more changes after qualifying.  I’m not sure if we were going too far or if it hadn’t come in yet.  We were kind of in the dark.  We all huddled around and gave it our best shot.  The consensus was, right, wrong or indifferent; I was going to have 100 laps to figure out how to get whatever we could get.”

By the end of the first lap, Swanson had already advanced three positions to the sixth spot, taking evasive action when Kyle Hamilton’s ride was hesitant to take off, causing the inside row to check up momentarily.  Meanwhile, outside front row starter Jerry Coons, Jr. bolted to the lead at the start to lead the opening laps for the second consecutive race.

Swanson steadily moved forward to fifth on lap five and fourth on lap 15 where he maintained position for the remainder of the first third of the race as the first caution of the night came out on the 33rd lap for the stopped car of sixth-running Hamilton.  If the Swanson/DePalma team had any chink in its armor in recent years, it was restarts.  But for the lap 37 restart in Friday night’s race, this was where the team won the thing.

“Something we’ve struggled with at times is taking off on starts,” Swanson acknowledges.  “Tonight, this thing took off the best it has in four or five years.  We got a couple spots and some good runs on restarts because of the effort these guys put in at the shop.”

Second-running Santos didn’t quite launch on the restart, so Swanson went where they weren’t.  By turn two, Swanson had muscled the banks to take third from Byrne and second from defending race winner Santos in the snap of a finger.  Just three laps later, Swanson had roped in the race leader, Coons, and sped around him for the top spot exiting turn two on the 40th circuit.

“I don’t know if it was the motivation or driving angry or whatever you want to call it, but whether that was a good move or bad, I went to the top,” Swanson justified.  “It happened to work out and I kind of got a run on the outside and got into second with a two-for-one in one turn.  I don’t know why it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I thought, ‘well, I’ll just go for more.’  Bobby almost got back to the inside of me and that pretty much solidified that it’s now or never.  You’re either first or third at that point.”

Moments later, Coons had his race end abruptly when he began to slow before steering his ride back to the pit area.  Swanson, though, was on complete cruise control, ramping up his lead to a half-straightaway by midway.  Swanson continuously extended his lead throughout the second half as he checked off a succession of lapped cars until the final yellow flag fell with three laps remaining when Austin Nemire and Travis Welpott made contact in turn four, sending Welpott into a spin.

On the final restart, by rule, the lapped cars would be removed from the equation and start from the tail.  The frightening proposition for Swanson was that the two drivers directly behind him had found another life.

“Bobby (Santos) and David (Byrne) were second and third and are really good racers,” Swanson said.  “They’ll both race you really hard and really clean, but you’re not safe with them behind you.  They’ve proven they can pass anybody at any time.  It’s just one of things where you must focus.  I’ve got my wife on the radio, and we had the best car during the race.  It was my job to hit two good laps.”

“The engine took off great on the restart and got me a little bit of a gap, which is huge into turn one knowing that they’re not already on your bumper,” Swanson detailed.  “If you make any sort of mistake, you can run it in there and try to build some momentum.  Luckily, the thing re-fired up really well and we were able to pull away in the last two laps to seal it.  What a wild night, what a wild weekend it’s been.  It’s all the reasons why I love Silver Crown racing.”

Swanson certainly has quite a few reasons to love Silver Crown racing as he’s made winning his forte in a variety of cars.  His three Toledo Silver Crown wins have come in three different cars with two different teams.  His first opportunity with Nolen at Toledo lies in the wait.  If winning the pole and capturing the victory in his first go-around with Nolen at Memphis is any indication of how Toledo will go, there’s no telling what this combo can achieve in 2019.

Pit gates for the Saturday, April 27, USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series event at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway open at 11am and front gates open at 2:15pm.  Silver Crown practice runs from 2:30-3:15pm and 3:40-4:05pm with Sprint Car practice set for 3:15-3:40pm and 4:05-4:25pm.  Fatheadz Eyewear Silver Crown qualifying begins at 5pm, followed by Sprint Car qualifying.  Vintage Car laps are set for 5:40pm with invocation/anthems slotted for 5:55pm and racing at 6pm. (All times Eastern)

Adult general admission tickets are $20 advance and $25 on raceday.  Kids age 6-12 are $3, children age 5 and under are FREE!

Toledo Speedway is located at 5639 Benore Rd, Toledo, OH 43612.  You can reach the track via phone at (419) 727-1100 and on their website at

LIVE flag-to-flag coverage of the event will be on  Listen to LIVE audio of all the happenings on the USAC app.  Following along with live updates on and with live timing and scoring available on the Race Monitor app.