By Richie Murray
Brownsburg, Indiana (May 26, 2022)………A magical afternoon for Kody Swanson was made complete with a completely dominating performance in the 2021 USAC Midget special event feature at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, which came on the heels of winning the USAC Silver Crown race earlier that day.
This Friday night, May 27, Kody has a shot at tying Triple Crown champion Tracy Hines as the all-time winningest USAC driver at IRP. Swanson currently holds 13 total victories while Hines possesses 15 at the .686-mile paved oval, which hosts the seventh annual Carb Night Classic, which the Kingsburg, Calif. native will compete in both the USAC Silver Crown division and the USAC Midget non-points special event, as part of the Brown’s Oil Service IRP pavement midget series.
Kody is accustomed to setting records at IRP. In fact, his Midget/Silver Crown sweep a year ago marked the first time any driver had won multiple USAC features on the same day at IRP’s .686-mile paved oval since Dave Steele captured both ends of the Twin 25 midget features in 2002.
However, Kody was the first driver to accomplish the feat in two different types of racecars since the track’s construction more than six decades ago in 1961.
Three of Kody’s 13 IRP wins have come in a midget, taking his earliest victory as far back as 2010 before winning twice there in 2021, in addition to setting fast time in qualifying and starting from the pole in last year’s Carb Night Classic.
A total of five IRP midget winners are in this Friday’s 25-car field with three-time victor Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.), a 2006 and 2020 IRP midget winner on Indianapolis 500 weekend at IRP, adding another triumph at the westside of Indy oval in June of 2021. The 2010 NASCAR Modified king notched a 3rd in the 2021 Carb Night Classic midget feature.
Tanner Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) has shared honors as a midget winner with his brother, Kody, at IRP. Tanner was victorious during the 2010 Night Before the 500 and was a 4th place finisher at “Carb Night” in 2021.
Josh Wise (Riverside, Calif.), the 2005 USAC National Midget champion, returned to victory lane last August at IRP with a stirring midget win that came in a late-race dash in the final four laps. The 156-time NASCAR Cup Series starter returned to midget racing during the 2021 Carb Night Classic, finishing 7th.
Speaking of returns, Chuck Gurney Jr. (Livermore, Calif.) made a superb comeback to the driver’s seat with a 13th to 4th surge in the August 2021 midget race at IRP. The Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports crew chief is among the group of past IRP midget winners in this weekend’s field, tallying back-to-back victories in 2008 and in May of 2009.
Friday’s driver lineup also boasts its share of champions with 2020 USAC Silver Crown titlist and current USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship point leader Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) returning to the fold after finishing 5th in the midget at the Carb Night Classic last year. He’s joined by reigning USAC National Midget champion Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif.) who will be making his pavement midget debut.
USAC champions are across the board with 2014 Pavement Midget champion Kyle O’Gara making his second straight appearance in the event following an 8th place Carb Night Classic finish in 2021. Cody Gerhardt (Fresno, Calif.), 11th in 2021, is a three-time USAC national champ in the Western Ford Focus Pavement Midget, California North Ford Focus Midget and California South Ford Focus Midget divisions in 2010. Morgan Hill, California’s Blake Brannon (12th in 2021) was the 2016 USAC Western Restricted HPD Midget champion.
Chad Nichols (Danville, Calif.) makes his Carb Night Classic debut this weekend after collecting three consecutive USAC Western States Pavement Midget titles in 2012-13-14. NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran and New Castle, Ind. native Dakoda Armstrong will also be making his first Carb Night Classic appearance. He was, at the time, USAC’s youngest champion at age 13 when he captured the 2004 USAC Kenyon Midget championship.
The Northeastern Midget Association always brings a strong contingent to IRP. Mendon, Massachusetts’ Johnny Zych was 13th last May at the Carb Night Classic; he’s a three-time NEMA champ in 2013-15-16. Fellow NEMA standout, Suffield, Connecticut’s Todd Bertrand (18th in 2021), was the series champion in 2020. Medway, Massachusetts’ Jake Trainor (6th in 2021) and Brownsburg, Indiana’s Cole Carter (9th in 2021), son of 1978 IRP midget winner Pancho Carter, were tops of the NEMA teams at Carb Night 2021.
Maria Cofer (Macdoel, Calif.) became the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) Midget champ in 2017. She finished 17th at IRP in 2020 and is one of two women in the field along with Annie Breidinger (Hillsborough, Calif.), a 19th place Carb Night Classic midget finisher in 2021.
Nick Hamilton (Danville, Ind.) knocked out a 10th in the 2021 Carb Night Classic. Also returning to Carb Night action are Goodyear, Arizona’s Nathan Byrd (20th in 2021) and Spring Valley, Illinois’ Ryan Shilkuski (22nd in 2021).
Making their Carb Night debuts are 2021 POWRi WAR Sprint Car champion Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.), plus Davey Hamilton Jr. (Boise, Idaho), Bret Sanderson (Ladoga, Ind.) and Brandon Maurer (Sherman, Ill.).
More than 50 combined USAC Silver Crown and Brown’s Oil Service Midget drivers are expected to compete in the Carb Night Classic, set for Friday night, May 27, at IRP.
The seventh running of the Carb Night Classic features a rare quadruple header of open wheel racing on the Friday before the Indianapolis 500, and it’s sure to be a night to remember.
The 2022 edition of the Carb Night Classic will feature Road to Indy’s Cooper Tire Indy Pro 2000 (90 laps) and USF2000 (75 laps) Championships, as well as a 30-lap non-points USAC Special Event National Pavement Midget Championship feature paying $5,000 to win and a 100-lap points-paying USAC Silver Crown National Championship race which pays $10,000 to win.
In fact, the USF2000 event will be the milestone 300th USAC sanctioned event on the IRP oval since its construction in 1961.
Spectator gates open at 3pm Eastern with practice also beginning a 3pm. Qualifying is set to begin at 5:50pm. Opening ceremonies are slated for 6:55pm with the USF2000 Freedom 75 race at 7:05pm, the Indy Pro 2000 Freedom 90 race at 8:05pm, the midget race at 9:05pm and the USAC Silver Crown race at 9:35pm.
Tickets for the Carb Night Classic are on sale now at www.raceIRP.com.
The USAC Silver Crown and Midget portions of the Carb Night Classic can be watched live and on-demand on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz. Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 coverage can be found on https://www.roadtoindy.tv/.
CARB NIGHT CLASSIC MIDGET ENTRY LIST: (25 CARS)
2 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Rams)
4 DAVEY HAMILTON JR./Boise, ID (Klatt)
7 COLE CARTER/Brownsburg, IN (Bertrand)
7A DAKODA ARMSTRONG/New Castle, IN (Armstrong)
7K NICK HAMILTON/Danville, IN (Irwin)
7x TANNER SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (RMS)
8 JAKE TRAINOR/Medway, MA (Seymour)
9 JOHNNY ZYCH/Mendon, MA (Zych)
14 BRANDON MAURER/Sherman, IL (Maurer)
17 CHAD NICHOLS/Danville, CA (Nichols)
40 BLAKE BRANNON/Morgan Hill, CA (Brannon)
44 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Bertrand)
47 TODD BERTRAND/Suffield, CT (Bertrand)
47x NATHAN BYRD/Goodyear, AZ (Bertrand)
55 JOSH WISE/Riverside, CA (Bowman)
60 CODY GERHARDT/Fresno, CA (Gerhardt)
66 BRET SANDERSON/Ladoga, IN (Sanderson)
67 BUDDY KOFOID/Penngrove, CA (West/KKM)
67K KYLE O’GARA/Beech Grove, IN (SFHR)
75 RYAN SHILKUSKI/Spring Valley, IL (Shilkuski)
80 ANNIE BREIDINGER/Hillsborough, CA (Breidinger)
88 MARIA COFER/Macdoel, CA (Arata)
98 BOBBY SANTOS/Franklin, MA (West)
99 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Guess)
514 CHUCK GURNEY JR./Livermore, CA (West)
CARB NIGHT CLASSIC USAC MIDGET WINS AT IRP:
CARB NIGHT CLASSIC USAC MIDGET WINNERS AT IRP:
2021: Kody Swanson (5/29)
PAST CARB NIGHT CLASSIC USAC MIDGET RESULTS:
2021 FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Thomas Meseraull (3), 3. Bobby Santos (4), 4. Tanner Swanson (6), 5. Justin Grant (2), 6. Jake Trainor (5), 7. Josh Wise (7), 8. Kyle O’Gara (9), 9. Cole Carter (15), 10. Nick Hamilton (8), 11. Cody Gerhardt (16), 12. Blake Brannon (17), 13. Johnny Zych (13), 14. Trey Burke (10), 15. Taylor Ferns (20), 16. Jesse Love (14), 17. John Sluss (19), 18. Todd Bertrand (12), 19. Annie Breidinger (11), 20. Nathan Byrd (18), 21. Bobby Guess (#99) (22), 22. Ryan Shilkuski (21). NT
USAC MIDGET WINS AT IRP:
6-Dan Drinan, Tracy Hines, Mel Kenyon & Kenneth Nichols
5-Ryan Newman, Dave Steele, Tony Stewart & Rich Vogler
4-Jeff Gordon, Doug Kalitta & Jason Leffler
3-Bob Cicconi, Stan Fox, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Santos, Don Schilling, Kody Swanson, Sleepy Tripp & Bob Wente
2-Mike Bliss, Billy Engelhart, Bryan Clauson, Jack Calabrase, Jimmy Caruthers, Aaron Fike, Nick Fornoro Jr., Brian Gerster, Chuck Gurney Jr., Darren Hagen, Jim Hettinger, Kenny Irwin Jr., Lee Kunzman, Mack McClellan & Andy Michner
1-Tommy Astone, Gary Bettenhausen, Merle Bettenhausen, Don Branson, Pancho Carter, Bobby East, Mike Fedorcak, Mike Gregg, Ron Gregory, Ted Hines, Sam Isenhower, Jim Keeker, Kyle Larson, Greg Leffler, Michael Lewis, Steve Lotshaw, Jan Opperman, Henry Pens, Stevie Reeves, Ken Schrader, Tanner Swanson, Kevin Swindell, Randy Tolsma, Billy Vukovich & Josh Wise
USAC MIDGET WINNERS AT IRP:
1961: Don Branson (8/27)
1965: Bob Wente (9/26)
1968: Billy Vukovich (8/10) & Merle Bettenhausen (9/21)
1969: Bob Wente (5/29), Henry Pens (5/29), Billy Engelhart (7/12), Mel Kenyon (8/2) & Lee Kunzman (9/20)
1970: Lee Kunzman (5/29) & Jimmy Caruthers (7/16)
1971: Jimmy Caruthers (5/28)
1974: Tommy Astone (5/25)
1975: Billy Engelhart (5/24), Johnny Parsons (7/16) & Sleepy Tripp (8/20)
1976: Sleepy Tripp (4/11), Bob Wente (5/29), Johnny Parsons (6/30), Sleepy Tripp (7/14) & Jan Opperman (8/18)
1977: Gary Bettenhausen (4/17), Mel Kenyon (5/28), Johnny Parsons (6/15), Johnny Parsons (7/20) & Johnny Parsons (8/10)
1978: Johnny Parsons (4/30), Rich Vogler (5/27) & Pancho Carter (6/14)
1979: Mel Kenyon (5/26) & Mel Kenyon (5/27)
1980: Mel Kenyon (5/24) & Mel Kenyon (8/31)
1981: Mack McClellan (5/23) & Mack McClellan (8/29)
1982: Greg Leffler (7/3)
1983: Ken Schrader (5/28)
1984: Steve Lotshaw (5/26)
1985: Nick Fornoro Jr. (5/25)
1986: Sam Isenhower (5/24)
1987: Nick Fornoro Jr. (5/23)
1988: Jack Calabrase (5/28), Jim Keeker (6/23), Bob Cicconi (6/30), Mike Gregg (7/14), Jack Calabrase (7/21), Rich Vogler (8/4) & Rich Vogler (8/11)
1989: Jeff Gordon (5/27), Rich Vogler (6/22), Jeff Gordon (7/6), Don Schilling (7/20), Rich Vogler (8/3) & Don Schilling (8/17)
1990: Jeff Gordon (5/26), Jeff Gordon (7/28) & Don Schilling (8/11)
1991: Bob Cicconi (5/4), Mike Fedorcak (5/25), Stan Fox (6/22), Stan Fox (7/6), Bob Cicconi (7/20), Jim Hettinger (8/23 – SE) & Stan Fox (8/24)
1992: Kenneth Nichols (5/2), Dan Drinan (5/16), Doug Kalitta (5/23), Doug Kalitta (5/30), Kenny Irwin Jr. (7/18), Dan Drinan (7/18) & Kenneth Nichols (8/15)
1993: Kenneth Nichols (5/8), Stevie Reeves (5/22), Mike Bliss (5/29), Kenneth Nichols (6/12), Randy Tolsma (6/19), Jim Hettinger (7/10) & Kenny Irwin Jr. (8/21)
1994: Tony Stewart (5/14), Brian Gerster (5/21), Ted Hines (5/28), Andy Michner (6/11), Tony Stewart (6/30), Dan Drinan (7/21) & Mike Bliss (8/18)
1995: Brian Gerster (5/6), Dan Drinan (5/13), Andy Michner (5/28), Dan Drinan (7/13), Johnny Parsons (7/27), Dan Drinan (8/2) & Tony Stewart (8/17)
1996: Kenneth Nichols (5/11), Kenneth Nichols (5/25), Doug Kalitta (6/23), Doug Kalitta (7/17) & Tony Stewart (8/14)
1997: Tony Stewart (5/10), Ryan Newman (5/24), Tracy Hines (7/23) & Ryan Newman (8/13)
1998: Dave Steele (5/24), Tracy Hines (8/12) & Ryan Newman (9/19)
1999: Ryan Newman (5/29), Ryan Newman (8/18) & Jason Leffler (9/18)
2000: Kasey Kahne (5/27), Jason Leffler (8/23) & Jason Leffler (9/16)
2001: Kasey Kahne (5/27) & Kasey Kahne (9/15)
2002: Jason Leffler (5/25), Dave Steele (9/27) & Dave Steele (9/27)
2003: Aaron Fike (5/24), Aaron Fike (9/27) & Dave Steele (9/27 – SE)
2004: Ron Gregory (5/29)
2005: Michael Lewis (5/28)
2006: Bobby Santos (5/27) & Dave Steele (7/1)
2007: Kevin Swindell (5/26) & Bryan Clauson (6/16)
2008: Bobby East (5/24) & Chuck Gurney Jr. (7/24)
2009: Chuck Gurney Jr. (5/23) & Bryan Clauson (7/23)
2010: Tanner Swanson (5/29) & Kody Swanson (7/22)
2011: Darren Hagen (5/28) & Kyle Larson (7/28)
2012: Tracy Hines (5/26) & Tracy Hines (7/26)
2013: Darren Hagen (5/25) & Tracy Hines (7/27)
2014: Tracy Hines (5/24 – P)
2020: Bobby Santos (8/22 – SE)
2021: Kody Swanson (5/29 – SE), Bobby Santos (6/17 – SE), Kody Swanson (7/3 – SE) & Josh Wise (8/14 – SE)
(SE) represents a non-points special event
(P) represents a USAC Pavement Series Midget event