By Richie Murray
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania (June 13, 2019)………Scanning the headlines to bring you the notable things to look for in this weekend’s USAC Silver Crown event at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. on Friday, June 14.
KLATT ATTACK: The Klatt Enterprises No. 6 has been spectacularly strong in its two most recent outings at Williams Grove, earning a second-place run with Bryan Clauson in 2016 followed up by another runner-up performance in 2017 after leading 83 laps with driver Damion Gardner. The car’s current dirt pilot, Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, Okla., is seeking his first career USAC Silver Crown win. He opened up his Eastern trip with a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car “Eastern Storm” victory Tuesday at Grandview Speedway and does have an ARDC Midget win at The Grove in 2017.
THE KYLE ROBBINS EXPERIENCE: Kyle Robbins is one of eight drivers in the field who holds USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car experience at Williams Grove, finishing 24th back in 2017. However, he and Mike Haggenbottom are the only members of that group aiming to make his first Silver Crown start, a group that includes Brady Bacon, C.J. Leary, Chris Windom, John Heydenreich, Justin Grant and Tyler Courtney.
BOUNCING BACK: The last time Johnny Petrozelle wheeled a Silver Crown car at Williams Grove in 2017, he tipped it over on his qualifying run. He’s bounced back in several ways since then. For instance, following May’s “Hoosier Hundred,” Petrozelle proposed to his girlfriend on the Indiana State Fairgrounds front straightaway. She said “yes” by the way. The newly-engaged Denton, N.C. driver looks to bounce back on the track at Williams Grove this Friday.
HALF-MILE CLUB: The last time the Silver Crown cars were on a half-mile last September, C.J. Leary was standing in victory lane at Eldora Speedway. In fact, both of the Greenfield, Indiana’s Silver Crown victories have come on half-miles, also scoring the win at Terre Haute in 2016. Leary was the fast qualifier at Williams Grove in 2016 and holds the one-lap USAC Silver Crown track record of 20.379.
GROVE DEBUTS: Alvada Ohio’s Chad Kemenah has plenty of laps around Williams Grove in a wing sprint car, including a 5th place run in Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions action there in April of 2018. However, this will mark Kemenah’s debut at Williams Grove in a Silver Crown car following his first career appearance in May, a 24thplace finish at the “Hoosier Hundred.” Kemenah will be one to watch with National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Bob Hampshire as his crew chief.
THE HEWITT CONNECTION: Bob Hampshire is the winningest crew chief in Silver Crown history, helping Kody Swanson and Jack Hewitt to a combined six series championships and their number one and two positions on the all-time Silver Crown driver win list. Like Kemenah, Hewitt’s nephew, Dallas Hewitt, of Troy Ohio, made his first start at the “Hoosier Hundred” and is eying his first Williams Grove action.
HARD CHARGER: Austin Nemire of Sylvania, Ohio was the hard charger in the most recent Williams Grove Silver Crown race in 2017, moving from 15th to 8th. He was strong early on in May’s “Hoosier Hundred,” starting 9th and running as high as 6th early on, and hovering around the top-ten for most of the race before a clutch issue 11 laps from the end derailed them to a 20th place finish.
OLDIE, BUT GOODIE: Chris Windom’s horrific crash at the “Hoosier Hundred” took our breath away. It also took his car away, totaling the new Maxim in the first race of the year. Since that time, the Goodnight Racing team has acquired the Kazmark Motorsports No. 92, the very same car which Windom with in Kazmark colors in 2017 at Terre Haute, and in 2016 when it was owned by RPM/Fred Gormly with which Windom won with at Williams Grove, Du Quoin and Eldora en route to the championship. Windom will compete alongside teammate and first-time Grove competitor Matt Goodnight of Winchester, Ind.
BACK ON TRACK: The last time Silver Crown was at Williams Grove in, Kody Swanson was your winner, leading the final 17 laps to score the victory. This year, Swanson is in new digs with Nolen Racing. Their first two outing were superb as Kody started from the pole and won both events on the pavement. He took home a third at the “Hoosier Hundred” on the dirt, but then suffered an engine problem while leading at Lucas Oil Raceway to close out May. Kody and the team have had a few weeks to regroup and the series point leader aims to get the ball rolling again toward an unprecedented 5th series title.
PA SYSTEM: 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.
BYRNE-ING DESIRE: David Byrne was once known as a pavement specialist to some, but his best results of late have come on the dirt. He was strong in May’s “Hoosier Hundred,” finishing 7th after starting 6th. He’s finished 13th and 16th in his two Grove outings with the full potential to achieve a much better result this time around after setbacks hindered the Shullsburg, Wisc. driver’s 2016 and 2017 runs.
GORDON AT THE GROVE: In Eric Gordon’s long, illustrious USAC career, he has yet to get a chance to race at Williams Grove. That all changes this Friday for the nine-time “Little 500” winner from Fortville, Ind. who charged from 16th to 5th in his most recent Silver Crown race on the pavement at Lucas Oil Raceway.
COTTLE RECHARGED: Shane Cottle, a 10th place finisher at Williams Grove in 2016, was another driver who was flashy in his dirt season debut at the “Hoosier Hundred” in May where the Kansas, Ill. driver shot up through the field from his 19th starting spot and into the top-five just 41 laps into the 100-miler before clutch problems sidelined him to a 23rd place result on lap 64.
CLOSING IN: Only one driver has finished in the top-five of all four Silver Crown races thus far – Justin Grant of Ione, Calif. That’s allowed him to close within six points of Kody Swanson in the title chase as we near the summer stretch. Grant has won a Silver Crown race on a track similar in size to Williams Grove, scoring the win in 2018 at the “Sumar Classic” at Terre Haute.
REDEMPTION: Tyler Courtney arrives at Williams Grove coming off a hard-fought victory at the “Hoosier Hundred” in May. His last attempt in a Crown car at Williams Grove ended before it even had a chance to begin after the car suffered mechanical woes during practice that didn’t allow Courtney to even turn a lap during the main event.
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.
Watch Friday’s Williams Grove USAC Silver Crown race live and on-demand at http://www.FloRacing.com/. 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.
“WILLIAMS GROVE 100” ENTRY LIST:
# / DRIVER / HOMETOWN / TEAM
6 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (Klatt Enterprises)
7 KYLE ROBBINS/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
8 JOHNNY PETROZELLE/Denton, NC (Cornell-Petrozelle Racing)
10 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (DMW Motorsports)
15 ®CHAD KEMENAH/Alvada, OH (Bob Hampshire)
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
17 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL (Goodnight-Byrd Racing)
20 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Gene Nolen Racing)
24 MIKE HAGGENBOTTOM/Levittown, PA (John Haggenbottom)
31 ®DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)
39 MATT GOODNIGHT/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
40 DAVID BYRNE/Shullsburg, WI (Byrne Racing)
43 JOHN HEYDENREICH/Bloomsburg, PA (Felker Racing)
53 STEVE BUCKWALTER/Royersford, PA (Five Three Motorsports)
57 ®DALLAS HEWITT/Troy, OH (Dallas Hewitt)
78 ERIC GORDON/Fortville, IN (Armstrong/Slinkard Racing)
81 SHANE COTTLE/Kansas, IL (Curtis Williams)
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
97 TYLER COURTNEY/Indianapolis, IN (Hans Lein)
® = USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contender