Silver Crown
Thursday, 16 August 2018


#63 Kody Swanson #63 Kody Swanson Gene Crucean Photo


By: Jay Hardin – Track Enterprises Staff

Springfield, IL-(August 15, 2018)………Californian Kody Swanson enters the 2018 Bettenhausen 100 on a record setting pace in the USAC Silver Crown Championship Series and he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.  That record pace has him tagged as one of the favorites to find victory lane in the prestigious Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fair on Saturday, August 18.  Swanson leads a bugling entry list of drivers that exceeds 40 and would be the largest entry list at Springfield in twelve years!

Swanson passed legend Jack Hewitt for most victories in the Silver Crown series with a win in the “Pat O’Connor-Joe James Memorial” at Salem last weekend, erasing a record that stood for nearly 18 seasons.  Ironically, Hewitt’s last and 23rd Silver Crown win in the mighty uprights came in the Bettenhausen 100 at Springfield on August 19, 2000.  The majority of Hewitt’s Silver Crown wins came at the wheel of a car carrying the number 63 and wrenched by Bob Hampshire.  Twenty-one of Swanson’s wins have come in a car numbered 63 and also wrenched by Bob Hampshire.

Not only did Swanson exceed a number some rail birds thought to be unreachable he set a USAC Silver Crown record with his fifth consecutive series victory.  The thirty-year old Swanson has ten wins on the one-mile fairground dirt tracks which is third in Silver Crown competition behind Chuck Gurney and Jack Hewitt, and behind A.J. Foyt who won 26 times in championship dirt cars, 24 of those national championship events.  Swanson won the Bettenhausen in 2014 and 2015 and is joined by former winners Dave Darland, Brian Tyler, Russ Gamester, A.J. Fike and defending Bettenhausen champ Justin Grant on the entry list. 

Currently leading the USAC Silver Crown standings in search of a record setting fourth national title, Swanson last year chased fellow Californian Justin Grant to the checker.  Grant and Swanson are part of an entry list that numbers 43 and could go even higher by Saturday.  The last Bettenhausen entry list to that many cars came in 2006, the last entry list to exceed 43 was posted in 2005.

USAC stalwarts such as Kevin Thomas Jr., Tyler Courtney, C.J. Leary, Brady Bacon and David Byrne are on the current entry list as are veterans Jerry Coons Jr., Bill Rose, Jeff Swindell and Ken Schrader.  Schrader’s last start in the Bettenhausen 100 came 33 years ago!

2016 USAC Silver Crown champ Chris Windom of Canton and Galesburg’s Fike lead a laundry list of entries with Illinois connections.  Fike enters the Bettenhausen in a second car fielded by Springfield’s own Dennis McQuinn and as a teammate to Ken Schrader.  McQuinn’s heritage in the Bettenhausen as a car owner and crew chief goes back nearly 30 years to 1990 when he and Ron Tapocik entered an orange machine for Springfield favorite Jerry Russell.  Springfield’s J.C. Bland and Joey Moughan had top ten qualifying runs at Springfield in 2017 while fourth generation driver Korey Weyant followed great uncle Chuck by making his first Bettenhausen 100.

Benton’s Shane Cockrum is a two-time winner at Du Quoin eager to add a Bettenhausen trophy to the mantle while Elkhart’s Chris Urish won at Du Quoin in 2013.  2007 Du Quoin winner Shane Cottle is again listing Kansas as his home town.  Veteran Terry Babb out of Decatur also returns for another try.  Other entries with an Illinois connection include the Patty Bateman team out of Murphysboro with driver Casey Shuman and the Cornell team out of Chicagoland with Johnny Petrozelle at the wheel. 

The number four also applies to records as Swanson tied legend Al Unser by picking up his fourth consecutive Hoosier Hundred victory in May.  The win was also the tenth for Kody on the one-mile fairground dirt tracks with two wins at Springfield, two at Du Quoin and two at Syracuse in the mix.  He is currently third among drivers who have posted one-mile dirt track wins in the series behind Chuck Gurney (14), Hewitt (12) but still far behind legend A.J. Foyt who posted 26 wins in championship dirt cars on one-mile tracks, but only two under the Silver Crown banner.

Practice for the Bettenhausen 100 is slated to begin at 10 a.m. on August 18 with qualifying at 11:30, the last chance race at 12:30 and the Bettenhausen 100 pushed off at 2 p.m.