By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Oregon, Wisconsin (June 23, 2023)………Throughout the first three events of the 2023 USAC Silver Crown National Championship season, Kody Swanson had dominated the stat book in terms of total laps led.
The Kingsburg, Calif. native led all three races for a total of 163 out of a possible 246 laps – more than two-thirds of all the laps that had been run thus far this season.
Despite that fact, he had zero wins to show for his efforts.
Throughout Friday night’s Bytec Dairyland 100 at Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway, the seven-time series champion put that odd little anomaly to bed with a dominant wire-to-wire performance, leading all 100 laps in his Doran-Binks Racing/Mission Foods – Glenn Farms/Beast/Lanci Ford.
The victory was Swanson’s first of the year in Silver Crown competition, and his record-extending 38th overall, as he captured his third career triumph with the series at Madison in four tries, having made the drive to winner’s circle in 2018-19-23.
In 2022, Swanson’s early season swoon left him winless throughout the first handful of rounds before finally finding his mojo in late June. In 2023, the timeline matches up once again with Swanson winning the first race held following the summer solstice.
For Swanson, this win came not a moment too soon.
“We’ve been trying all year,” Swanson related. “It just hasn’t quite fallen our way. We’ve been running well on the dirt too, but we just haven’t been strong enough to finish at the end. Logan (Seavey) was the class of the field last week at Port Royal. Bobby (Santos) was really good at IRP. Justin (Grant) and Brady (Bacon) were both great at Belleville. So, there’s a lot of top-caliber guys you’re trying to win against. That’s why each one of these races that you do win means a lot.”
Swanson’s perfect evening began by turning the fastest lap in Dirt Draft Practice, followed by his 43rd career Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifying time, which earned him the pole position where he proceeded to lead all 100 laps en route to victory.
As a matter of fact, Swanson is the second consecutive driver to achieve that exact same feat at Madison after C.J. Leary did just the same in 2022. However, on this particular night, Leary would not even have a chance to repeat his Dairyland 100 triumph, with his engine down two cylinders during practice and qualifying, which forced him and his Klatt Enterprises team to the sideline as a scratch for the main event.
With that said, the race went on, and from the word “go,” Swanson had a chokehold on the entirety of the 21-car starting field. Swanson stepped out in front of the line at the initial start ahead first-time Silver Crown front row starter Derek Bischak and began his 100-lap patrol of the field.
On lap seven, things went awry for eighth place running Taylor Ferns who came to a stop and turned around backwards in the middle of turn two. She’d rejoin the field at the tail, and ultimately, soldiered on to finish in the 13th position.
Thirteenth starting Bobby Santos shuffled the deck at the forefront of the field as he made a charge around the outside of Bischak on the back straightaway on lap 20. Tyler Roahrig followed suit as he too zipped past Bischak with an outside pass on the back straight to take over the third position a lap later on the 21st circuit.
Bischak, aiming to top his best career finish of fourth achieved in his most recent series start at IRP in May, came to an end on lap 33 when a shower of sparks emanated from the rear of his car, sending the fourth-place driver and car into a spin in turns three and four. The incident put a premature conclusion to the 2019 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year’s night, stifling him to a 20th place result.
Swanson continued to hold serve up front as the race rifled through the middle stages, maintaining a near two second lead throughout, keeping Santos and Roahrig in check as they received a constant view of the No. 77 adorned tail tank of Swanson’s ride lap-after-lap around the half-mile paved oval.
However, the race once again was brought to a half on lap 61 for the 13th place car of Bryan Gossel who came to a stop sideways atop the banking in between turns one and two, ending the evening for the 2020 series Rookie of the Year.
When racing resumed, Mario Clouser made a forward surge, powering into the fourth position at the entrance of turn three underneath series point leader Logan Seavey on the 71st lap.
The yellow flag flew once more for the final time on lap 81 when 2020 series champion Justin Grant (7th) slowed with a flat right rear tire, while simultaneously, Billy Wease (10th) also stopped in turn one, ending his race with a 17th place result while Grant motored on to finish 16th, one lap down in the running order.
Kody Swanson’s 1.1 second lead was erased due to the caution. However, the song remained the same for Swanson as the race resumed with the lap 86 restart, and remained the same for everyone who chased him on this night. Swanson was in total control throughout, and in the end, finished 2.392 seconds ahead of runner-up Bobby Santos while Tyler Roahrig collected a third with Mario Clouser fourth and Logan Seavey fifth.
Guided by the voice of spotter and wife Jordan Swanson in his ear, Swanson was seemingly at ease, but considering the aspect of how the first three events of the season shook out following superb performances, Swanson wasn’t going to allow himself to feel completely comfortable until he pulled into victory lane.
“My wife does a great job, and it makes a huge difference for me just having that peace of mind,” Swanson iterated. “But there’s no peace of mind to be had when you’ve got Bobby Santos and Tyler Roahrig coming, and you know whatever gap you have, most of the time, it’s by their choice. They always make me wonder if I’m going too hard, and maybe I was. I knew Bobby was there, especially with about 15 to go. Maybe he was preserving (his equipment) for a green-white-checkered there; he’s so good at that and he’s stolen them from others that way too. So, you never breathe a sigh of relief until the checkered flag falls.”
Bobby Santos brought home a second-place finish in his DJ Racing/Classic Corvettes – Brown & Miller Racing Solutions – Simpson/Beast/Speedway Chevy. In four career USAC Silver Crown starts at Madison, he’s now finished as the runner-up three times. The Franklin, Mass. native has been a second-place finisher in 2018-22-23, and was fourth in the 2019 event, but feels his day is coming soon for a first Silver Crown victory in the state of Wisconsin.
“Silver Crown racing has really changed,” Santos revealed. “It’s a 100-lap sprint car race, honestly. We’re pushing as hard as we could. I’m getting sick of running second, but we’ve got to keep working to be better. This track is fun, but it’s a difficult racetrack. I’ve been second two years in a row here, but that’s the way it goes. We’ll get one.”
It certainly wasn’t a bad introduction to Madison International Speedway for first-time visitor Tyler Roahrig and his Legacy Autosport/Metalloid – Penske Shocks/Legacy/Stanton Chevy. The Plymouth, Ind. racer finished third in his first Dairyland 100 run. It’s a familiar spot for Roahrig who has finished 3rd, 3rd and 3rd in his past three pavement USAC Silver Crown starts. In fact, in four of his five career series starts, he came away with a podium result. Not too shabby for a first impression.
“Just getting your car to handle here is tough,” Roahrig acknowledged. “It’s got really tight corners and you’ve got to drag race down the straightaways. It’s not bad for my first time here, but we’ll take some notes and come back again.”
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 23, 2023 – Madison International Speedway – Oregon, Wisconsin – 1/2-Mile Paved Oval – Bytec Dairyland 100
HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 77, Doran/Binks-16.980; 2. Derek Bischak, 131, Bischak-17.065; 3. Bobby Santos, 98, DJ-17.126; 4. Tyler Roahrig, 19, Legacy-17.171; 5. Mario Clouser, 92, Kazmark-17.201; 6. Logan Seavey, 22, Rice/Abacus-17.212; 7. Taylor Ferns, 555, Ferns-17.234; 8. Kyle O’Gara, 67, SFHR-17.291; 9. Russ Gamester, 51, Gamester-17.349; 10. Wayne Johnson, 12, Two C-17.430; 11. Mike McVetta, 94, RAM-17.441; 12. Billy Wease, 60, Wilson-17.467; 13. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-17.469; 14. Dakoda Armstrong, 5, C & A-17.490; 15. Kaylee Bryson, 26, Pierce-17.548; 16. C.J. Leary, 6, Klatt-17.586; 17. Bryan Gossel, 06, Gossel-17.597; 18. Matt Westfall, 81, BCR-17.632; 19. Gregg Cory, 32, Williams-17.680; 20. Trey Burke, 11, Hamilton/SRG-17.766; 21. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott-17.839; 22. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-NT.
FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bobby Santos (3), 3. Tyler Roahrig (4), 4. Mario Clouser (5), 5. Logan Seavey (6), 6. Kyle O’Gara (8), 7. Wayne Johnson (10), 8. Kaylee Bryson (15), 9. Russ Gamester (9), 10. Dakoda Armstrong (14), 11. Mike McVetta (11), 12. Matt Westfall (17), 13. Taylor Ferns (7), 14. Travis Welpott (20), 15. Trey Burke (19), 16. Justin Grant (13), 17. Billy Wease (12), 18. Gregg Cory (18), 19. Bryan Gossel (16), 20. Derek Bischak (2), 21. Dave Berkheimer (21). 48:04.339
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-100 Kody Swanson.
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-256, 2-Kody Swanson-235, 3-Justin Grant-164, 4-Matt Westfall-163, 5-Mario Clouser-160, 6-Taylor Ferns-158, 7-Kaylee Bryson-158, 8-Tyler Roahrig-155, 9-Wayne Johnson-143, 10-Bobby Santos-140.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Daison Pursley-97, 2-Logan Seavey-58, 3-Chase Stockon-53, 4-Matt Westfall-52, 5-Justin Grant-51, 6-Brady Bacon-44, 7-Carson Garrett-38, 8-Thomas Meseraull-37, 9-Bryant Wiedeman-35, 10-Robert Ballou-34.
NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 20, 2023 – Winchester Speedway – Winchester, Indiana – 1/2-Mile Paved Oval – Rich Vogler Classic Presented by The Pallet Builder