By Richie Murray
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania (June 15, 2021)………Champ Car racing at Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway dates back to the years immediately following the conclusion of World War II three-quarters of a century ago.
However, in the grand history of USAC Silver Crown history from 1971 onward, this Friday night’s June 18, Williams Grove 100 marks just the sixth appearance in the history of the series at the half-mile Mechanicsburg, Pa. dirt oval since 1980.
This year’s edition of the $8,000-to-win race boasts a large contingent of 28 drivers and teams set to take on the first dirt event of the 2021 USAC Silver Crown season with two past Williams Grove winners in the field.
Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) led just one lap in the most recent Williams Grove Silver Crown race, but it was the right one, the last one, en route to his first career Silver Crown win. He’s never finished outside the top-five in Silver Crown competition at Williams Grove, taking 4th in 2016 and 5th in 2017, plus an ARDC Midget victory there in 2017.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) played a role in the mix at the end of the 2019 race where he led a race-high 48 laps before dropping to 9th with a flat right rear tire while leading on the final lap. The 2016 USAC Silver Crown champ was victorious that same season at the Williams Grove 100 in one of most iconic duels in USAC Silver Crown history with Bryan Clauson. Windom also finished 4th in the 100-lapper in 2017 and captured a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win at Williams Grove in 2018.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) has yet to make a USAC Silver Crown start at Williams Grove, but he is a Williams Grove winner, scoring a victory in a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car race there in 2017.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) holds the one-lap USAC Silver Crown track record at Williams Grove, a 20.379 set in 2016. That same year, he led the first 29 laps before being sidelined by an engine issue while leading. Subsequent mechanical issues with an engine in 2017 and a clutch in 2019 have resulted in heartache for Leary in his two most recent appearances.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) set fast time to win the pole in the most recent USAC Silver Crown race at Williams Grove in 2019. That night, he earned his best finish thus far with the Silver Crown series at Williams Grove, a 3rd. He also took 5th in 2016 while leading eight laps and was 9th in 2017.
Mike Haggenbottom’s only USAC Silver Crown start at Williams Grove produced his best career finish, a 4th, after starting all the way back in 15th. He’s one of five Pennsylvanians in the field along with Steven Drevicki (Reading, Pa.), Dave Berkheimer (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), Carmen Perigo (Stoystown, Pa.) and Jimmy Light (West Springfield, Pa.).
For three-time USAC East Coast Sprint Car champion Drevicki, it’ll be his first career USAC Silver Crown appearance. Drevicki won with the East Coast series at Williams Grove in 2020. Berkheimer has finished 17th (2016), 18th (2017) and 16th (2019) in his three Williams Grove Silver Crown starts. For Light and Perigo, the event will be their first USAC Silver Crown appearances at Williams Grove. Perigo was a 10th place finisher with the USAC National Sprint Cars at “The Grove” in 2017.
Williams Grove USAC Silver Crown veterans also include Austin Nemire (Sylvania, Ohio) who finished a personal best of 6th in 2019. He was the hard charger in 2017 after starting 15th and finishing 8th. In his 2016 debut, Nemire raced to an 11th place result.
Eric Gordon (Fortville, Ind.) scored a 5th place finish in his first Silver Crown start at Williams Grove in 2019. David Byrne (Shullsburg, Wis.) was a top-ten finisher with USAC Silver Crown at Williams Grove in 2019, taking 7th, as was Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.), 10th in 2016, and likewise, Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.), a 10th place runner in 2017 along with Matt Goodnight (Winchester, Ind.), 10th in 2019. Kyle Robbins (New Castle, Ind.) had a 15th place result in 2019.
Also making USAC Silver Crown debuts this Friday at Williams Grove are a duo of drivers with USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car experience at Williams Grove in recent years. Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.) was 3rd in 2018 after leading the first 19 laps of the feature while Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) placed 18th in the same 2018 race.
USAC Silver Crown debuts at Williams Grove will be turned in by leading USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contender Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.); 2021 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car and USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature winner Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.); Eastern Storm USAC National Sprint Car feature winner Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.); 2020 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year Bryan Gossel (Fort Collins, Colo.); 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Car champ Jake Swanson; 2021 AMSOIL USAC CRA Sprint Car feature winner and first-time USAC Silver Crown entrant Chase Johnson (Penngrove, Calif.); plus Silver Crown series veterans Travis Welpott (Pendleton, Ind.), Ronnie Wuerdeman (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Casey Buckman (Chandler, Ariz.).
Friday’s Williams Grove 100 features the USAC Silver Crown National Championship and the Lawrence Chevrolet 410 Sprint Cars.
Gates open at 5:30pm EDT on race day with the drivers meeting at 6:30pm and hot laps at 7pm.
Adult general admission tickets are $30 with students ages 13-20 admitted for just $10. Kids ages 12 and under are free.
The USAC Silver Crown National Championship event at Williams Grove is part of a full week of USAC racing festivities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This week, the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship will also tackle five dates in a six-night stretch.
The Sprint Cars begin 2021 Eastern Storm on Tuesday, June 15, at the 1/3-mile Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa., the only track that has appeared on the schedule since Eastern Storm’s inaugural run in 2007.
The following night, on Wednesday, June 16, the Sprint Cars will make their debut on the recently reconfigured 4/10-mile Bridgeport Speedway in Swedesboro, N.J.
Fifty years after the USAC National Sprint Cars last visited Pennsylvania’s ½-mile Selinsgrove Speedway, the series is back on Thursday night, June 17 for the first time since Mitch Smith’s victory five decades earlier in 1971.
USAC Sprints get back to work on Saturday night, June 19, at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway’s ½-mile. The tour closes out on Sunday night, June 20, with the USAC Sprint Car debut at the newly rejuvenated Bloomsburg Fair Raceway 3/8-mile dirt oval in Pennsylvania, where the sight and sound of auto racing of any kind has been absent for the past 40 summers.
All Eastern Storm events will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.
USAC SILVER CROWN POINTS: 1-Kody Swanson-70, 2-Bobby Santos-70, 3-David Byrne-64, 4-Justin Grant-61, 5-Taylor Ferns-58, 6-Jim Anderson-55, 7-Logan Seavey-52, 8-Shane Cottle-49, 9-Patrick Lawson-46, 10-Austin Nemire-43.
WILLIAMS GROVE 100 ENTRY LIST: (28 DRIVERS)
06 Bryan Gossel/Fort Collins, CO (Bryan Gossel)
3 Steven Drevicki/Reading, PA (Tim Simmons)
6 Jason McDougal/Broken Arrow, OK (Klatt Enterprises)
7 Kyle Robbins/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
9 Robert Ballou/Rocklin, CA (Chris Dyson Racing)
10 Jake Swanson/Anaheim, CA (DMW Motorsports)
16 Austin Nemire/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
17 Chase Johnson/Penngrove, CA (Goodnight Racing)
18 Travis Welpott/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)
22 Logan Seavey/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports)
24 Mike Haggenbottom/Levittown, PA (John Haggenbottom)
26 Kevin Thomas Jr./Cullman, AL (Sam Pierce)
30 C.J. Leary/Greenfield, IN (Leary Racing)
31 Dave Berkheimer/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)
33 Ronnie Wuerdeman/Cincinnati, OH (Wuerdeman Family Racing)
39 Matt Goodnight/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
40 David Byrne/Shullsburg, WI (Byrne Racing)
52 Carmen Perigo/Stoystown, PA (John Stehman)
53 Brady Bacon/Broken Arrow, OK (Five Three Motorsports)
54 Matt Westfall/Pleasant Hill, OH (Westfall Motorsports)
69 Kyle Cummins/Princeton, IN (Pink 69 Racing)
71 Shane Cockrum/Benton, IL (BLS Motorsports)
74 Casey Buckman/Chandler, AZ (C-Buck Racing)
81 Shane Cottle/Kansas, IL (BCR Group)
91 Justin Grant/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
97 Chris Windom/Canton, IL (Hans Lein)
99 Eric Gordon/Fortville, IN (Brad & Tara Armstrong)
123 Jimmy Light/West Springfield, PA (Two-Three Motorsports)
WILLIAMS GROVE USAC SILVER CROWN WINNERS:
1980: Sheldon Kinser (7/5)
1981: Eddie Leavitt (7/5)
2016: Chris Windom (6/10)
2017: Kody Swanson (6/16)
2019: Brady Bacon (6/14)
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC SILVER CROWN AT WILLIAMS GROVE SPEEDWAY:
1 Lap – 6/10/2016 – C.J. Leary – 20.379 – 88.326 mph
100 Laps – 7/5/1980 – Sheldon Kinser – 46:01.60 – 65.180 mph
PAST WILLIAMS GROVE USAC SILVER CROWN RESULTS:
1980 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Sheldon Kinser (6), 2. Kramer Williamson (10), 3. Robert Smith (4), 4. Steve Chassey (1), 5. Rich Vogler (7), 6. Mack McClellan (21), 7. Lennie Waldo (16), 8. Bill Puterbaugh (13), 9. Gary Hieber (15), 10. Tom Bigelow (8), 11. Bill Tyler (20), 12. Pancho Carter (3), 13. Frankie Schneider (22), 14. Ron Shuman (2), 15. Duke Cook (11), 16. Steve Cannon (18), 17. Chris Cumberworth (14), 18. Joe Saldana (5), 19. Van May (19), 20. Bobby Olivero (9), 21. Greg Leffler (12), 22. Smokey Snellbaker (17). 46:01.60
1981 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Eddie Leavitt (10), 2. Barry Camp (5), 3. Jack Hewitt (15), 4. Roger Rager (9), 5. Steve Kinser (3), 6. Joe Saldana (6), 7. Ken Schrader (12), 8. Tom Bigelow (19), 9. Gary Gray (16), 10. Mark Alderson (17), 11. Rich Vogler (8), 12. Larry Rice (14), 13. Greg Leffler (13), 14. Smokey Snellbaker (4), 15. Duke Cook (20), 16. Ron Shuman (2), 17. Paul Pitzer (1), 18. Gary Patterson (18), 19. Kramer Williamson (7), 20. Johnny Parsons (11). 49:03.75
2016 FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Bryan Clauson, 3. Kody Swanson, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Justin Grant, 6. Mark Smith, 7. Casey Shuman, 8. Jerry Coons Jr., 9. Steve Buckwalter, 10. Shane Cottle, 11. Austin Nemire, 12. Billy Puterbaugh Jr., 13. David Byrne, 14. Dave Darland, 15. Shane Cockrum, 16. Chris Fetter, 17. Dave Berkheimer, 18. John Heydenreich, 19. Joe Liguori, 20. C.J. Leary, 21. Billy Pauch Jr. NT
2017 FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Kody Swanson, 2. Damion Gardner, 3. Jerry Coons Jr., 4. Chris Windom, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Joe Liguori, 7. Patrick Bruns, 8. Austin Nemire, 9. Justin Grant, 10. Shane Cockrum, 11. Mark Smith, 12. C.J. Leary, 13. Steve Buckwalter, 14. Dave Darland, 15. Dakota Jackson, 16. David Byrne, 17. Hunter Schuerenberg, 18. Dave Berkheimer, 19. Johnny Petrozelle. 49:29.807
2019 FEATURE: (101 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (3), 2. Kody Swanson (6), 3. Justin Grant (1), 4. Mike Haggenbottom (15), 5. Eric Gordon (14), 6. Austin Nemire (5), 7. David Byrne (12), 8. Steve Buckwalter (8), 9. Chris Windom (2), 10. Matt Goodnight (10), 11. Chad Kemenah (11), 12. John Heydenreich (13), 13. Shane Cottle (7), 14. Dallas Hewitt (18), 15. Kyle Robbins (9), 16. Dave Berkheimer (17), 17. Tyler Courtney (4), 18. Johnny Petrozelle (16), 19. C.J. Leary (19). 1:01.52.305