By Dick Jordan
Kody Swanson brings a 20-point lead in the USAC Traxxas Silver Crown standings to the “Tony Bettenhausen 100” at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Saturday as he continues his charge toward what would be his first USAC National driving title.
The 24-year-old Kingsburg, Calif. driver has scored “top-10” finishes in two of his three career Springfield starts, finishing eighth last year, but is riding a streak of “top-five” finishes so far this season. He finished second at Raceway Park in May, Iowa Speedway in June and Raceway Park in July added a fifth at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in May and a fourth at Toledo, Ohio in June.
Bobby East of Brownsburg, Ind. is the points runner-up entering round six, riding a streak of three straight podium finishes. After winning at Iowa Speedway, he won the pole and finished second at Toledo, then took third at Raceway Park in Indy. He pilots one of two Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian entries in the series.
East’s teammate, Levi Jones of Olney, Ill., hopes to end the 29-year drought for Illinois drivers at Springfield. He has “top-10” finishes in all five 2012 Silver Crown races, topped by thirds at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and at Iowa. Levi was second in last year’s “Tony Bettenhausen 100.”
Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz. ranks third in the standings at mid-season, 35 back of Swanson. He won the “Hoosier Hundred” at Indianapolis in May and the “Rollie Beale 100” at Toledo and had a fourth at Iowa and a sixth at Raceway Park.
Defending Springfield winner Brian Tyler of Mount Pleasant, N.C. will seek his fourth “Tony Bettenhausen 100” victory Saturday as a teammate to Swanson. A ninth at Iowa Speedway is his best 2012 finish in five starts which leaves him out of the “top-10” in the current rankings.
Drivers will aim at Tracy Hines’ 1-lap track qualifying record of 122.846 mph when qualifications begin Saturday. Hines, the 2006 Springfield winner, is eighth in the 2012 standings, his best finish this year a fifth at Toledo.
2012 USAC TRAXXAS SILVER CROWN STANDINGS
1-Kody Swanson-279, 2-Bobby East-259, 3-Jerry Coons Jr.-244, 4-Bobby Santos-222, 5-Levi Jones-219, 6-Bud Kaeding-217, 7-Tanner Swanson-205, 8-Tracy Hines-190, 9-A.J. Fike-158, 10-Jacob Wilson-141.