USAC National driving champions Kody Swanson, Brady Bacon and Rico Abreu shared the spotlight along with other 2014 USAC champions and special award recipients at Friday night’s 59th USAC “Night of Champions” celebration at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis, Ind.
Swanson, of Kingsburg, Calif., Bacon, of Broken Arrow, Okla. and Abreu, of Rutherford, Calif., became first-time National champions. Swanson was the Silver Crown titlist, Bacon the AMSOIL Sprint Car king and Abreu the Honda Midget champ.
Car owner National champions for 2014 included DePalma Motorsports of Lima, Ohio (Silver Crown), Dynamics, Inc. of Milford, Ohio (Sprint) and Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports of Columbus, Ind. (Midget).
Emcee Pat Sullivan again orchestrated the presentations, which included driver and car entrant champions, Rookies of the Year, Most Improved Drivers and special award recipients.
Among items presented to the 2014 champions were trophies, plaques, Oakley timepieces, Hoosier jackets, medallions, and remote-control TRAXXAS trucks.
Sprint Car driving champions in addition to the aforementioned include Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif. (AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints); Matt Mitchell of Yorba Linda, Calif. (West Coast Sprints); R.J. Johnson of Phoenix, Ariz. (Southwest Sprints) and Ryan Bernal of Hollister, Calif. (Western Classic Sprints).
Other 2014 champions included Ronnie Gardner of Norco, Calif. (Honda Western Midgets); Chad Nichols of Colma, Calif. (Western Pavement Midget): Adam Pierson of Bradford, Vt. (DMA Midget); Austin Nemire of Toledo, Ohio (HPD Midwest Dirt and Pavement Midget); Shawn Buckley of Simi Valley, Calif. (HPD Western Midget); Ashley Hazelton of Chatsworth, Calif. (HPD Western Dirt Midget); Scott Hunter of Wald Lake, Mich. (HPD Eastern Midget) and Chase Goetz of Snohomish, Wash. (HPD Washington Midget).
Also honored for their 2014 championships at Kutztown, Pa.’s ActionTrack USA, which operated under the USAC banner in 2014, were Billy Pauch Jr. of Frenchtown, N.J. (SpeedSTRs); Jay Hartman of Flagtown, N.J. (Pioneer Pole Buildings 600 Micro Sprints); Danny Buccafusca of Rockaway, N.J. (NAPA AllStar Slingshots) and Damon Paul of Stony Point, N.Y. (Junior Slingshots).
Honored as USAC Honda .25 Midget National Champions as a result of their “Generation Next Tour” titles were drivers Logan Heath of Hereford, AZ (Light 160 and Light World Formula Pavement); Carson Hocevar of Portage, MI (Heavy Honda and Heavy 160, Senior Animal and Heavy AA Pavement); Berklee Jimenez of San Antonio, TX (Heavy World Formula Pavement); Brady Johnson of Mooresville, N.C. (Junior Honda Pavement); Christopher Oplinger of Mount Holly, N.C. (Senior Honda Pavement); Tanner Reif of Henderson, NV (Junior Animal Pavement); Famous Rhodes of Parkland, FL (Light Mod Pavement); Danny Sams III of Englewood, FL (Unrestricted Animal Pavement); Jack Wehmeyer of Sellersville, PA (Light AA Pavement); Aleksander Andrecs of Edgewater, MD (Junior Honda Dirt); Bradan Andrecs of Edgewater, MD (Junior Animal Dirtl); Jesse James Bartleson of Rio Grande, NJ (Heavy World Formula Dirt); Zachary Curtis of Spring City, PA (Heavy Honda Dirt); Briggs Danner of Allentown, PA (Light 160 Dirt); Hanna Flood of Limerick, PA (Heavy 160 and Unrestricted Animal Dirt); Connor Gross of Middleton, MA (Light World Formula Dirt); Mike Thompson of Holland, PA (Senior Animal Dirt); and Conner Weiss of Barto, PA (Senior Honda Dirt).
USAC President Kevin Miller presented USAC Special Appreciation Awards to Honda (corporate) and Robby Gordon (individual) for their contributions and dedicated service to the racing community.
Long-time USAC car entrant and supporter Mike Curb of Nashville, Tenn. was presented USAC’s prestigious Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence, recognizing his commitment to the overall sport of auto racing and his numerous contributions to USAC.
Pete Willoughby of Columbus, Ind. received the inaugural Jason Leffler Award, in recognition of his intense appreciation of the sport’s history reflected in his professionalism and outstanding representation as an ambassador of the United States Auto Club, exhibiting the same standard of ideals upheld by the late Jason Leffler during his USAC racing career.
USAC’s 2014 National “Race Organizer of the Year” award was awarded to Kevin Montgomery, who presented numerous events in 2014, including the Southwest Sprint Car Series.
Tracy Hines, for the second consecutive year, earned the “Mike Curb Super License Award” and its $5,000 cash bonus for scoring the most points of all drivers participating in USAC’s 2014 National racing series.
Caleb Armstrong of New Castle, Ind. earned the 2014 USAC Silver Crown “Rookie of the Year” honor. Jarett Andretti of Mooresville, N.C. was honored as the National Sprint Car “Rookie of the Year” and the Bob Stroud Memorial National Midget “Rookie of the Year” Award for the National Midget Series went to Kevin Thomas Jr. of Cullman, Ala.
Shane Cockrum of Benton, Ill. was named USAC’s “Most Improved” National Driver of 2014.
USAC’s 2014 “Mechanical Achievement of the Year” award went to Bob Hampshire of Findlay, Ohio., who guided Kody Swanson’s drive to the Silver Crown title.
Second and third-place drivers and car entrants in USAC’s National racing series also received their year-end recognition and awards.
Mike Swanson was presented the USAC Silver Crown Fan of the Year Award after scoring the best record of race-by-race pool selections during the season.
All USAC driving champions were also presented one-year memberships by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.
Floral decorations were provided by Jockish Flowers of Indianapolis.