By Richie Murray
Rossburg, Ohio………Unprecedented is a word you don’t hear that often in racing that much. After all, if you’ve been around for a while, you see records that may seem untouchable, or so many of us thought.
When Kody Swanson and the DePalma Motorsports teamed up in 2013, they basically created their own record book, one of which Silver Crown participants will be chasing for years and years.
Saturday night at Eldora Speedway, Swanson completed his fourth USAC Silver Crown season championship in one of the most dominant seasons of all, capturing the title by a grand total of 82 points. Not a single time throughout the season did the Kingsburg, Calif. native trail the points race.
It was August 18 before Swanson even had a race where he finished outside of the top-two! Prior to that, he began the season with two-straight runner-up finishes – two races in which he led a chunk of late in the going. Then, he proceeded to reel off five victories in a row during a midsummer stretch that saw him win four times on the pavement and once on the dirt, on half-mile speedways and on one-mile tracks, at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway and Indiana’s Salem Speedway.
Regardless of where you saw the series run, the No. 63 car was normally up front. The five-in-a-row broke a long-standing, 32-year-old record of four-straight Silver Crown wins set by Jack Hewitt, who also made car No. 63 wrenched by Bob Hampshire the dominant force in the sport a generation before. Sometimes it seems that as fast as the world moves, some things seem to stay the same.
The last of those five wins, at Salem, was the ultimate. Kody drove to his 24th career victory in the Silver Crown Champ Car Series, overtaking the top spot on the all-time win list. Hewitt had previously held the record for just shy of three decades.
All the personal accolades are nice, but the one that Kody may very well be the proudest of is the record achieved for DePalma Motorsports. The Lima, Ohio-based family gave him a shot six years ago when his racing career was at a crossroads.
As crazy as it seems now, Kody was still seen as primarily a “pavement specialist” at the time and was tabbed as the driver for the blacktop while he searched for rides on the dirt to prove himself as a capable shoe. He recorded a 2nd, 5th and another 2nd in the first three pavement outings for DePalma during that initial season together in 2013. For 2014, Kody was handed the keys to both the pavement and dirt rides and he hasn’t missed a beat since, reeling off 21 wins together in the past five years and the four season titles.
Each of the five years Kody has been the full-time driver for the DePalma family, they have won the championship. It’s another accomplishment we’ve not seen before in the series, snapping the series record for streaking (four) set by Bob East/Tony Stewart Racing between 2002 and 2005 as well as Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, which grabbed four in a row from 2010 to 2013.
It’s a season-long goal for Kody and the DePalma’s every year, and Kody takes a lot of pride in the chance to drive this car for this team and be able to make history together.
“When I got the chance to drive for them the first time, their goal was to try to win the championship or run as high as they could in the points,” Swanson recalled. “I was just pavement only at the time. But the following year, I got the chance to run for them full-time and we won our first title together – my first and theirs. It’s so special to get five-in-a-row for them to become the first in history to do that. It’s great to be a part of this, but I try so hard to do a good job for this team. To be a part of this team record is as special as anything else to me.”