By Richie Murray
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania (June 11, 2019)………Two of the classics in all of American motorsports meet up when the USAC Silver Crown Champ Cars take on the half-mile Williams Grove Speedway this Friday, June 14.
The “Williams Grove 100” marks the fifth Silver Crown event held at the half-mile dirt oval in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Previous Silver Crown races at The Grove have included Sheldon Kinser (1980), Eddie Leavitt (1981), Chris Windom (2016) and Kody Swanson (2017).
Windom and Swanson return for the first Silver Crown race held at the famed track in two seasons, a track whose history with champ car racing dates back to AAA sanction in 1946.
Windom, of Canton, Ill., led the final 63 laps of the 2016 race at Williams Grove, a race that is still talked about as one of the greatest finishes in the history of the series where Windom fended off a late-race charge from Bryan Clauson to win in the return of the Silver Crown cars for the first time in 35 years.
Windom has been superb at Williams Grove in any type of car, backing up his Silver Crown win with a 4th in 2017. In USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition, he’s finished 3rdin 2017 and scored the victory in USAC’s most recent trip in a Sprint Car in 2018.
Meanwhile, Kingsburg, California’s Swanson is a frontrunner everywhere he goes on the Silver Crown trail, and The Grove is no exception. The four-time Silver Crown champ and series’ winningest driver was victorious in the most recent appearance in 2017 and was 3rdin 2016. He leads the standings coming in by virtue of victories in the first two events of the season, on the pavement, at Memphis and Toledo.
Justin Grant, of Ione, Calif., trails Swanson by a mere six points after four-straight top-five finishes to begin the season, the only one to accomplish the feat in every race so far thus year. Grant led eight laps and finished 5th in his Crown debut at Williams Grove in 2016. He was 9th a year later in the Silver Crown car in 2017 and 4th in the USAC Sprint feature.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon was an ARDC Midget winner at Williams Grove in 2017. The two-time USAC National Sprint Car champion’s four Grove USAC outings have been remarkably consistent. In the Silver Crown car, he finished 4th in 2016 and 5th in 2017. In the Sprint, he earned a 5th in 2017 and a runner-up result in 2018.
Bacon’s Klatt Enterprises ride nearly won the 2017 Silver Crown race, winning the pole, leading 83 of 100 laps and finishing 2nd with driver Damion Gardner. The Klatt car was the winner of the most recent Silver Crown race in 2019, on pavement, with driver Kyle Hamilton.
Williams Grove Silver Crown veteran C.J. Leary was Fast Qualifier in 2016 and holds the one-lap track record for the series at 20.379. He led the first 29 laps of the event before an engine issue sent him to the sideline. The same trouble befell the Greenfield, Ind. native in 2017, forcing him to retire from the 100-lapper 30 laps in after a 5th place qualifying run.
Austin Nemire (Sylvania, Ohio) was the hard charger in 2017, starting 15th and finishing 8th. David Byrne (Shullsburg, Wisc.) is aiming to up his first two results of 13th and 17that Williams Grove. He was superb on the dirt in the “Hoosier Hundred” at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in May, starting 6th and finishing 7th. Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) took a top-ten finish in 2016. One of the first career Silver Crown appearances by Denton, North Carolina’s Johnny Petrozelle came in 2017 where he flipped in qualifying. He aims for a bit of redemption this Friday.
Four Pennsylvania drivers are in the lineup, including John Heydenreich, whose 103 career series starts rank 16th all-time. The Bloomsburg native owns seven Midget wins at The Grove between 1984 and 1996. Royersford’s Steve Buckwalter is a nine-time 410 Wing Sprint Car and 5-time ARDC Midget winner at Williams Grove, and finished 9th in the Silver Crown race there in 2016. Mechanicsburg’s own Dave Berkheimer finished 17th in his first career Silver Crown start at Williams Grove in 2016. Levittown’s Mike Haggenbottom has competed with USAC at Williams Grove before, not in a Silver Crown as of yet, however, but in a Sprint Car where he finished 15th in his one and only USAC Sprint Car start in 1996.
May’s “Hoosier Hundred” winner Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) will make his Williams Grove Silver Crown debut on Friday after suffering mechanical problems in his 2017 appearance. He finished 8th in the USAC Sprint stop in 2018. Although Eric Gordon of Fortville, Ind. is one of USAC’s most prolific wheelman at 134 Silver Crown starts (9th all-time), this will mark his first USAC appearance of any kind at the prestigious track.
Chad Kemenah (Arvada, Ohio) has plenty of laps at Williams Grove in a wing sprint car, but none without a wing. He has the right man in his corner with Bob Hampshire turning the wrenches, the crew chief on Kody Swanson’s 2017 winner. Kyle Robbins (New Castle, Ind.) has a USAC Sprint Car start at Williams Grove to his credit but is making his Silver Crown debut at The Grove this weekend along with Matt Goodnight (Winchester, Ind.) and Dallas Hewitt (Troy, Ohio).
The back pit gate opens at 4:30pm Eastern, front pit gate at 5:30pm, all general admission gates at 5:30pm. Cars hit the track for hot laps at 7pm. General admission tickets are $28, youth age 13-20 are $10 and age 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $35 apiece.
The Williams Grove Silver Crown race comes amidst a flurry of USAC activity in the east. Tuesday at Grandview, pits open at 2pm (Eastern), front gates open at 5pm, drivers meeting at 6pm and cars on track at 6:30pm. NASCAR 358 Modifieds will join the USAC Sprint Cars. Adult general admission tickets are $30, kids 6-11 are $10. Children 6 and under are free. Advance tickets may be ordered by calling (443) 513-4456.
Wednesday at Bridgeport, racing starts at 7:30pm (Eastern). Adult general admission tickets are $30, students 10-15 are $10, children 9 and under are free.
Thursday at BAPS, Adult general admission tickets are $25, seniors are $15, students 13-17 are $15, kids 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $35 apiece.
Saturday at Port Royal, it’s a sprint car doubleheader with 410 wing sprints also on hand. Adult general admission tickets are $25, students are $10 and pit passes are $35 apiece.
Sunday at Weedsport, pits open at 4pm (Eastern), front gates open at 5pm and hot laps begin at 7pm with qualifying and racing immediately following. Champion Oil Modifieds and NY6A Micro Sprints are also on the docket. Reserved seating is $32, adult general admission tickets are $28, age 11-17 are $12 and age 10 and under are free. Pit passes are $32 apiece for members and $36 for non-members. Reserve camping is $30 and general camping is $24.
Watch each and every “Eastern Storm” race live and on-demand at http://www.FloRacing.com/. Listen live on the USAC app. Follow along with live updates on https://www.facebook.com/usacracing/ and https://twitter.com/USACNation, plus live timing and scoring on the Race Monitor app.