By Dick Jordan
It’s been 20 years since there were no repeat winners in a USAC Silver Crown racing season. So far there have been none this year! Five different race winners in five races and race number six – the “Tony Bettenhausen 100” – unfolds this Saturday afternoon at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
Brian Tyler of Mount Pleasant, N.C. hopes to be the sixth to find victory lane this year. He has won three of the past five ‘Tony Bettenhausen 100s” and is chasing Jack Hewitt’s all-time Silver Crown starts record. Tyler has 160 starts, two short of Hewitt’s 162 and could tie the record when the series visits the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds September 5.
Russ Gamester, who also has 160 career starts, won at Springfield in 1998 and he and Tyler are expected to be joined Saturday by Springfield race winners Tracy Hines (2006) and Dave Darland (1997, 1999 and 2003).
Saturday’s “Tony Bettenhausen 100” will feature a new wrinkle, the mid-race stop which debuted in May at the Hoosier Hundred in Indianapolis, Ind. and created a sensational restart and finishing laps.
Springfield’s Indianapolis 500 veteran Donnie Beechler is also expected to compete in Saturday’s race, along with 2010 Silver Crown race winners Levi Jones, A.J. Fike, Shane Hmiel, Hines and Tanner Swanson.
Brothers Tanner and Kody Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif. swept the top two spots in Thursday night’s “Great Lakes 150” USAC Silver Crown race at Berlin Raceway. Tanner grabbed lead from Bobby East on lap 101 and led the final 50 laps in his Toyota/TK Motorsports Beast. After taking the checkered flag he spun into the outside wall in turn one!
Kody was right on Tanner’s rear bumper the final lap but couldn’t mount a charge. Series point leader Bud Kaeding took third ahead of pole starter Bryan Clauson and Justin Carver as the top-five drivers finished on the lead lap. Kaeding’s finish helped him maintain the series point lead in search of a record fourth Silver Crown championship.
Five yellow flags slowed the race. Clauson led the first 42 laps and East led the next 58 before Swanson took over.
The 1-2 finish by the brothers Swanson marks the first time that has occurred in the series’ 40-year history!
USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1-Bud Kaeding-267, 2-Jerry Coons Jr.-225, 3-A.J. Fike-215, 4-Levi Jones-210, 5-Kody Swanson-200, 6-Shane Hmiel-197, 7-Tracy Hines-190, 8-Brian Tyler-185, 9-Bryan Clauson-168, 10-Bobby East-157.