By Dick Jordan
Flag Day, June 14, brings the USAC Silver Crown Championship Cars to Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis for a 100-mile race expected to be pivotal in the battle for the 2014 title. The weekend at Gateway also includes the NASCAR Camping World Track Series.
If past precedent is any indicator, the name Swanson might be emblazoned on the winner’s trophy at the end of the day. So far this year a Swanson has won every race on the calendar.
Kody Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif. is the series point leader after winning last Thursday night’s “Hoosier Hundred” in Indianapolis, Ind. and the April 6 “Sumer Classic” at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track. His brother, Tanner, won the May 17 USAC “Hall of Fame Classic” at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
The last time a name dominated the series was when Jack Hewitt swept four straight races during the 1986 series.
Kody Swanson finished second in last year’s thrilling finish at Gateway behind race winner Bobby Santos. Tanner has never competed at Gateway.
The June 14 appearance will be the series’ seventh at the 1.25-mile paved oval in Madison, Ill., in the shadow of the famed Gateway Arch. Pat Abold won the 1997 opener, while J.J. Yeley won in 1998, Ryan Newman in 1999, Tracy Hines in 2000 and Dave Steele in 2001 before the series returned there last year.
Hines is the only driver to have started all six previous Gateway Silver Crown races, posting a victory, two seconds and a fifth.
The race continues a great tradition of USAC racing in the St. Louis area which includes 95 total races in various racing series dating back to 1960.
Chris Windom of Canton, Ill. established the track qualifying record of 144.778 mph last year, while Santos holds the 100-mile race record of 120.118 mph.
In addition to Windom, Illinois drivers A.J. Fike of Galesburg and Shane Cockrum of Benton are also expected to be in competition.
Once again, the name Swanson tops the chart, with Kody owning the ultimate series speed mark of 146.212 mph at Iowa Speedway in 2012 (discounting the generational pavement cars which raced in the late 2000s).