By Richie Murray
Rossburg, Ohio (June 23, 2021)………Eight USAC National champions, two handfuls of Eldora Speedway USAC feature winners, and a whole host of talent are among a 32-driver lineup that will be on hand for this Saturday night’s, June 26th USAC Silver Crown 50-lap spectacular at the Rossburg, Ohio half-mile, high-banked dirt oval.
The expected car count of 32 would be the largest in 15 years for USAC Silver Crown at Eldora Speedway, and among the largest ever fields for the series at the famed track, which debuted there 40 years ago in 1981. Thirty-two cars and drivers were also in attendance in 2000, 2004 and 2006, while 36 were signed in for 1996 and 2001.
The USAC National champions that’ll be in the field this coming Saturday? There are a bunch, and they represent a venerable who’s who of USAC stars over the past several years.
Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) will do double-duty unlike any other he’s done before by competing in both a USAC Silver Crown car as well as in the new Camping World Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) series Saturday at Eldora, which forms a highly-unique doubleheader, the kind of which we’ve never seen before.
Swanson, the 2021 USAC Silver Crown opening race winner on the pavement at Indiana’s Lucas Oil Raceway in May, will compete for the Mark Swanson Encore Team, which has recently been driven to podium finishes in the series by both David Gravel and Jeff Swindell. However, Swanson has yet to win a USAC Silver Crown race at Eldora.
Swanson is among the 11 drivers who will arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at Eldora following a 100-lap Silver Crown event the night before, on Friday, June 25, at Oregon, Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway. Swanson, along with Bryan Gossel, Kyle Robbins, Austin Nemire, Travis Welpott, Mike Haggenbottom, David Byrne, Shane Cottle, Eric Gordon, Logan Seavey and Justin Grant, will make the midnight trek from the Badger State to Eldora to participate at both tracks in the pavement-dirt Silver Crown weekend combo, only the 17th occurrence of its kind for champ cars under the USAC banner.
Reigning USAC Silver Crown champion and three-time Eldora USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car winner Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) is also looking for his first Silver Crown score at the western Ohio track.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) has twice won in a USAC Silver Crown car at Eldora, in 2013 and again during his championship season of 2016. He’s joined by fellow Eldora Silver Crown winners, three-time USAC National Sprint champ Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.); 2019 USAC National Sprint titlist C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) and 2018 USAC National Sprint & 2019 USAC National Midget king Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.).
Courtney had won five-straight USAC National Sprint Car races at The Big E until finishing 2nd in May behind 2015 USAC National Sprint champ, and recently crowned Eastern Storm kingpin, Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.).
While Ballou drove the Chris Dyson Racing No. 9 to a top-ten finish last Friday at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway, Courtney, also a two-time USAC Midget winner at Eldora, now assumes the Dyson ride this weekend while Ballou will return to the Bill Rose Racing No. 66, which he was slated to drive in the rain-abbreviated show in May at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) leads all USAC Silver Crown Rookies in 2021, with the 2018 USAC National Midget driving champion standing 7th in the series points entering the weekend. Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) was a USAC National Sprint Car winner at Eldora in 2006 while Dave Peperak (Clinton, Ind.) did, likewise, all the way back in 1981 and, this Saturday at Eldora, intends to make his first USAC Silver Crown start since 1983!
USAC Silver Crown point leader Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) won the pole for the series’ race at Eldora in 2018. Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) did the same in 2019 and has finished 2nd in each of the last two Silver Crown races there. Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) won his first career USAC Silver Crown pole award last Friday at Williams Grove.
Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) led the final 28 laps to win the dirt opener for Silver Crown at Williams Grove a week ago, his first with the series in nearly six years. David Byrne (Shullsburg, Wis.) is a one-time Silver Crown winner as is Eric Gordon (Fortville, Ind.) while Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) owns wins with both of USAC’s National Sprint Car and Midget divisions in 2021 but is seeking his first career Silver Crown triumph.
Two USAC National Sprint Car veterans are making their first ever USAC Silver Crown appearances, Nick Bilbee (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Nathan Moore (Kaufman, Texas). Those two join an experienced crew of drivers who have been regulars in the series for the past year or more, including Williams Grove top-five finisher Kyle Robbins (New Castle, Ind.) and top-ten finisher Carmen Perigo (Stoystown, Pa.), plus 2020 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year Bryan Gossel (Fort Collins, Colo.) and 2017 USAC West Coast Sprint Car champ Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.).
Buckeye natives Austin Nemire (Sylvania, Ohio), Dallas Hewitt (Troy, Ohio) and Westfall are the three representatives for their state in the field along with Pennsylvanians Mike Haggenbottom (Levittown) and Dave Berkheimer (Mechanicsburg), Hoosiers Travis Welpott (Pendleton, Ind.) and Matt Goodnight (Winchester, Ind.), plus Illinois driver Terry Babb (Decatur), Arizona’s Casey Buckman (Chandler) and Missouri’s Chris Fetter (Troy).
Pits open at 2pm EDT, stands at 3pm and practice at 6pm, followed by racing and concluding with the 50-lap, $8,000-to-win USAC Silver Crown race. General admission tickets are $30 and free for kids age 12 and under.
The USAC portion of Saturday’s event at Eldora will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.
ELDORA USAC SILVER CROWN ENTRY LIST: (32 CARS)
06 Bryan Gossel/Fort Collins, CO (Bryan Gossel)
3 Nick Bilbee/Indianapolis, IN (Tim Simmons)
6 Jason McDougal/Broken Arrow, OK (Klatt Enterprises)
7 Kyle Robbins/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
9 Tyler Courtney/Indianapolis, IN (Chris Dyson Racing)
10 Jake Swanson/Anaheim, CA (DMW Motorsports)
16 Austin Nemire/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
18 Travis Welpott/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)
21 Kody Swanson/Kingsburg, CA (Mark Swanson Encore Team)
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)
39 Matt Goodnight/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
40 David Byrne/Shullsburg, WI (Byrne Racing)
48 Nathan Moore/Kaufman, TX (Nathan Moore)
52 Carmen Perigo/Stoystown, PA (John Stehman)
53 Brady Bacon/Broken Arrow, OK (Five Three Motorsports)
54 Matt Westfall/Pleasant Hill, OH (Westfall Racing)
57 Dallas Hewitt/Troy, OH (Dallas Hewitt)
66 Robert Ballou/Rocklin, CA (Bill Rose Racing)
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)
88 Terry Babb/Decatur, IL (Terry Babb)
89 Chris Fetter/Troy, MO (Chris Fetter)
91 Justin Grant/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
97 Chris Windom/Canton, IL (Hans Lein)
99 Eric Gordon/Fortville, IN (Brad & Tara Armstrong)
177 Dave Peperak/Clinton, IN (Dave Peperak)