By Richie Murray
Du Quoin, Illinois (September 6, 2021)………In his storied USAC Silver Crown career, which has spanned three decades and 199 starts, perhaps none were more improbable than his performance Monday afternoon at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in southern Illinois.
For instance, it was his first run in the BCR Group/Flint Trucking – QS Quality Components – Duncan Oil/Maxim/Kercher Chevy, taking the reins of the ride exactly two weeks earlier following the parting of ways between the team and longtime driver Shane Cottle.
Secondly, it had been two years since the Parma, Michigan driver last sat in the seat of a USAC Silver Crown car, keeping the fires burning in the meantime by winning in a Gold Crown car at several of the most famed road racing circuits in the United States.
Tyler returned to the series in grand fashion to “steal their lunch money” so to speak, by charging from 11th to 1st to win his second career Ted Horn 100, and first since 2008, at the Magic Mile.
On the other hand, it wasn’t all that improbable considering the fact that we’ve witnessed Brian Tyler do this before. Many times. In fact, his 18th career USAC Silver Crown victory ranks him third on the all-time list.
With a mid-race snooker of Kody Swanson for the lead, then thwarting repeated challenges from Logan Seavey down the stretch, Tyler’s performance put him in the win column with the series for the first time in more than a decade, since a victory on the Springfield Mile in 2011.
Furthermore, Tyler’s stretch of 10 years and 17 days between USAC Silver Crown wins is the second longest gap in series history. Cottle set the record in 2020 at 12 years, 11 months and 7 days, and achieved the feat in the same BCR Group No. 81 that Tyler won with at Du Quoin on Monday afternoon.
In doing so, at 53 years, 10 months and 10 days old, Tyler became USAC Silver Crown’s oldest race winner, surpassing the record of Chet Fillip, who was 51 years, 2 months and 25 days when he won at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in 2008.
“They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I think we still got it,” Tyler smirked. “I got to thank the guys on the 81 car. They gave me a really good car. I’ve taken a couple years off, but not by choice. It’s just under circumstances of what’s been going on. It feels really good to be back and I love the miles anyhow.”
After winning his 35th career USAC Silver Crown Fatheadz pole award, series point leader Kody Swanson jetted off with the lead and controlled the early stages, only being slightly pestered by fellow two-time Ted Horn 100 winner Shane Cockrum.
Meanwhile, a tad further back, Tyler was already knifing his way under and around the frontrunners, peeking into the top-five by lap 16 as he followed the path of Jake Swanson to move past Matt Westfall. Two laps later, Tyler cashed in a two-for-one deal as he blasted by J. Swanson on the bottom entering turn three for fourth, then found the path to overtake Seavey for third mere seconds later exiting the fourth turn.
On the lap 22 restart, Tyler blasted by Cockrum underneath to slot into second off turn two. J. Swanson and Seavey both shot by Cockrum for third and fourth, respectively, as Cockrum dropped all the way back to fifth with a deflating right rear tire.
A caution for the stopped car of Korey Weyant in turn four on lap 24 provided Cockrum a bit of a break as his crew changed the tire under the yellow flag period and returned him to action where he drove all the way back from the tail to finish fifth in the final tally.
On Cockrum’s path back to the front, the afternoon’s lone red flag was displayed on the 32nd lap when contact between Travis Welpott and Cockrum for the 21st spot resulted in Welpott smashing into the outside turn one wall, which sent him flipping over twice. Welpott walked away from the incident.
With the two breaking away at the midway point and working traffic, Tyler took advantage of Swanson’s check up in turn two as he approached 21st running Jason McDougal. As Swanson whoa’d up, that presented Tyler the red carpet on the bottom to roar underneath and assume the position at the top of the leaderboard.
“I’ve raced with Kody a long time along with some of these other guys,” Tyler said. “I knew if I could keep the pressure on Kody, sooner or later, he was going to make a mistake. Once I got the lead, the biggest thing I did was concentrate on hitting my marks and trying not to make that same mistake. I knew the boys were champing at the rear bumper. I just had to be smooth and straight try not to make any mistakes.”
As Tyler opened up a 4.396 second lead, second running Kody Swanson’s afternoon went to shambles as his ignition box faltered, forcing him to slow and stop on the back straightaway on lap 59. K. Swanson returned to the fray, albeit four laps down and finishing a season-worst 17th.
As Tyler upped his lead throughout the second half back up to three seconds, Seavey prevailed in his tussle with J. Swanson as he slipped into second on the low line in turn two on lap 74. Cutting right to the quick, Seavey sliced Tyler’s lead majorly from three seconds to two to 1.4 when the yellow fell for 12th running Aaron Pierce who slammed the outside wall in turn four. Also under the yellow, Dave Berkheimer’s day ended when his car caught fire just before the entrance to the pits in turn four.
Tyler nailed the lap 81 restart to build a solid five car length gap over Seavey. However, Seavey steadily began to claw his way back into Tyler’s consciousness by shaving off two of those lengths over the next lap as it became a battle between the most experienced Ted Horn 100 driver in the field in Tyler (19 starts) and a Ted Horn 100 Rookie, Seavey, who also does happen to own an ARCA Stock Car victory in 2018.
Seavey stalked his potential prey and took a look to the outside of Tyler off turn four on lap 93 to no avail as Tyler maintained and even slightly extended his lead to eight tenths. Gnashing his teeth to get one more shot on lap 98, Seavey drifted high at the entry to turn one and lost substantial ground, allowing Tyler to gain another half second.
Tyler put a stake in the ground and powered away to a 0.915 second victory over runner-up Seavey, Jake Swanson in third and KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Jerry Coons Jr. in fourth after starting 19th. Local racing hero Shane Cockrum rounded out the top-five with a fifth-place finish.
With it being the first daytime USAC Silver Crown race held at Du Quoin since 2002, Tyler felt he might have had an upper hand in that department over all challengers.
“I’ve raced at Du Quoin when it was a day show probably before most of these kids were born,” said Tyler, who made his first Ted Horn 100 start under the sun in 1996. “So, I think I might’ve had the upper hand on them.”
It was second again on a dirt mile for Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) as he finished in the runner-up spot for the second consecutive time with the series in his Rice Motorsports/Fatheadz Eyewear – STIDA.com – Lucas Oil/DRC/Pink Foxco Chevy. However, his solid finish coupled with K. Swanson’s woes put Seavey within 16 points in the championship race with just two events remaining.
“He’s an experienced racer and he’s really good at Silver Crown racing,” Seavey said of Tyler. “I’m still learning how to manage these races. I’m just going too slow in the beginning and giving up too much track position. But I felt like our tires were going to be killed, then I got out, looked at our tire and it looks awesome.”
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) scored his best run on a dirt mile, and equaled his best career series finish, with a third on Monday at Du Quoin, making it two series Rookies on the podium with he and Seavey. Swanson piloted the DMW Motorsports/Advanced Materials Technologies – US Auto Cure – Phoenix Pavers/DRC/Wilcox Chevy in his Du Quoin debut.
“It’s cool to be up here on the podium,” J. Swanson exclaimed. “I feel like we had a good enough racecar to maybe have something for the end. That’s what I was really wanting to do. Kody and Tyler seemed like they were really going hard, and I didn’t know if I could push it any harder. I wanted to save because I was banking on that late race yellow. I don’t know if it would’ve helped or not. We were running pretty fat, and it started to sputter there at the end on us, but they filled this thing full of fuel. We could’ve probably leaned it down and it would’ve made it the whole race and maybe been a little quicker at the end and gave us a shot. But it’s hard to say.”
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: September 6, 2021 – Du Quoin State Fairgrounds – Du Quoin, Illinois – 1-Mile Dirt Oval – Ted Horn 100
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 9, Dyson-31.587; 2. Shane Cockrum, 71, BLS-31.606; 3. Dallas Hewitt, 57, Hewitt-31.787; 4. Logan Seavey, 22, Rice-32.016; 5. Kyle Robbins, 7, KR-32.017; 6. Matt Westfall, 54, Westfall-32.185; 7. Shane Cottle, 110, DMW-32.229; 8. Austin Nemire, 16, Nemire/Lesko-32.253; 9. Jake Swanson, 10, DMW-32.267; 10. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-32.324; 11. Brian Tyler, 81, Williams-32.383; 12. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-32.383; 13. Terry Babb, 188, Babb-32.407; 14. Ken Schrader, 21, Swanson-32.411; 15. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-32.607; 16. Chris Fetter, 88, Fetter-32.607; 17. Casey Buckman, 74, C-Buck-32.655; 18. Jason McDougal, 6, Klatt-32.671; 19. Kyle Steffens, 08, Steffens-32.788; 20. Jerry Coons Jr., 55, Bateman-32.813; 21. Kyle Cummins, 69, Pink 69-33.141; 22. Patrick Lawson, 2, Lawson-33.180; 23. Carmen Perigo, 52, Stehman-33.379; 24. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-33.388; 25. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott-33.422; 26. Korey Weyant, 99, Weyant-33.926; 27. Nick Bilbee, 3, Simmons-34.178; 28. Danny Long, 44, Long-34.290; 29. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-34.363; 30. Chris Urish, 77, Urish-NT.
FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brian Tyler (11), 2. Logan Seavey (4), 3. Jake Swanson (9), 4. Jerry Coons Jr. (19), 5. Shane Cockrum (2), 6. Shane Cottle (7), 7. David Byrne (10), 8. Kyle Robbins (5), 9. Matt Goodnight (15), 10. Terry Babb (13), 11. Carmen Perigo (22), 12. Patrick Lawson (21), 13. Kyle Steffens (18), 14. Casey Buckman (16), 15. Kyle Cummins (20), 16. Nick Bilbee (25), 17. Kody Swanson (1), 18. Aaron Pierce (12), 19. Dave Berkheimer (27), 20. Matt Westfall (6), 21. Ken Schrader (14), 22. Dallas Hewitt (3), 23. Jason McDougal (17), 24. Travis Welpott (23), 25. Korey Weyant (24), 26. Austin Nemire (8), 27. Danny Long (26), 28. Chris Fetter (28), 29. Justin Grant (29). NT
**Travis Welpott flipped on lap 32 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-47 Kody Swanson, Laps 48-100 Brian Tyler.
USAC SILVER CROWN POINTS: 1-Kody Swanson-440, 2-Logan Seavey-424, 3-Justin Grant-322, 4-Shane Cottle-322, 5-Kyle Robbins-315, 6-David Byrne-306, 7-Shane Cockrum-295, 8-Austin Nemire-283, 9-Travis Welpott-270, 10-Mike Haggenbottom-243.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-115, 2-Brady Bacon-114, 3-Justin Grant-116, 4-Tanner Thorson-118, 5-Robert Ballou-97, 6-Logan Seavey-91, 7-Thomas Meseraull-103, 8-Kevin Thomas Jr.-94, 9-Kyle Cummins-68, 10-Buddy Kofoid-75.
NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: September 24-25, 2021 – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio – 1/2-Mile Dirt Oval – 4-Crown Nationals
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
GSP Quality Driving Performance of the Night: Shane Cockrum
Fatheadz Eyewear / Southern Illinois Sports Productions / Richard Blakely Fast Qualifier: Kody Swanson
KSE Racing Products / Tucker’s Automotive Repair & Tire Hard Charger: Jerry Coons Jr. (19th to 4th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Kyle Steffens