From Linda Mansfield
WINCHESTER, Ind., July 22 — A six-time champion doesn’t like finishing second in a race by 0.050 of a second.
Kody Swanson was determined to do everything in his power to finish one spot better than he did in last year’s Rich Vogler Classic USAC Silver Crown race at Winchester Speedway, and he did just that Thursday night in the 2022 edition of the race. Driving the Doran-Dyson Racing No. 1 sponsored by Henry Repeating Arms, Glenn Farms and Duncan Oil, he dominated the competition by winning the pole, leading all 100 laps of the race, setting the fastest lap of the race, and taking the checkered flag with an unheard of 10.062 seconds margin of victory. Swanson lapped the entire field on the high-banked half-mile asphalt oval except for the very distant runner-up, Logan Seavey.
And just like last year, Swanson took the point lead with his performance here. The defending series champion went into this race third in points, but with the victory he now tops the 58 drivers who have earned points so far this year with 308 points to Seavey’s 305. Doran-Dyson Racing tops the entrant standings with 308 points, while Rice Motorsports and Klatt Enterprises are currently tied for second with 305.
Swanson is the winningest driver in series history, and he extended that record to 35 with his victory in Thursday’s race, which was presented by The Pallet Builder.
The native of Kingsburg, Calif., who now lives in Indianapolis had a great start with the blue No. 1, which is powered by a Lanci-prepped Ford engine. Chris Windom ran in second for the first 63 laps until Seavey passed him on the event’s only restart working lap 64. Neither of them had anything for Swanson’s No. 1 prepped by Kevin Doran and the Lebanon, Ohio-based Doran Racing team, however.
The only caution during the 100-lapper flew from laps 56 through 63 after Taylor Ferns spun in Turn 2 while running fourth. She was able to restart fourth because by that time there were only four drivers on the lead lap. She ended up finishing third. C.J. Leary and Brian Tyler rounded out the top five in the 21-car field.
Swanson’s fastest lap of the race came a little after the restart when he was timed in 15.677 seconds on lap 65.
Swanson also has the most poles in series history, and he extended that mark to 38. Thursday night he won the Fatheadz Eyewear pole with a time of 14.629 seconds, which didn’t quite break the track record he earned here last year, but was still 0.472 seconds faster than the second-fastest qualifier, Windom. Swanson also topped practice with a lap in 15.057.
Unofficially he set a new 100-lap track record of 35:44.816 in the race.
Swanson said having a really good car and his efforts to set a smart pace while still minimizing his tire wear were key.
“Last year I was conservative because I was nervous about what would happen if I ran out of tires at the end. This time I wanted to make sure we ran out front and then to see how it would go, because this car was so good,” he said afterwards.
He was about 0.455 seconds ahead of Windom for the first 15 laps, but he had stretched his advantage to 1.662 seconds by lap 20. His lead dropped to about 0.7 of a second around lap 35, but was back to 1.465 seconds 10 laps later.
At the halfway point Swanson had stretched his lead to 3.403 seconds and he had already lapped up to fifth place. The very next lap he was more than 4 seconds ahead of Windom. He had a 5.494-second lead when the caution flew.
Shortly after that the second-place driver became Seavey, but Swanson had a 2.542-second lead over him on lap 65, and a 5.118-second lead on lap 70. His advantage was 4.472 seconds on lap 75; 4.975 seconds on lap 80; 6.019 seconds on lap 85; 7.823 seconds on lap 90; 9.189 seconds on lap 92, and 10.413 seconds with five laps to go before he won by 10.062 seconds.
“I’m grateful to be a part of this Doran Racing team, and I appreciate the job that everyone on this team does,” Swanson said afterwards. “I left for the race shop on Tuesday morning and I haven’t been home since. We went through everything to try to be as prepared as we could be for this race. Everyone on this team works so hard. We had a job to do and wanted to put this car in victory lane for this team, and I didn’t do any of it alone.
“This place [Winchester Speedway] is so unique anyway; there can be so much tire fallout here, but our car stayed consistent throughout the race and I think our tires didn’t wear out as quickly as some of the other drivers’ tires did. I think that was key,” he said.
“I learned an important lesson here last year,” he added. “This time I was cautiously aggressive early. I kept Windom behind me, but I didn’t wear out my tires to do it. Then, as the race progressed, I could lengthen my lead.”
Swanson said he had a couple of moments with lapped traffic, but “I had a smooth, clean race.
“This was a good night for us,” Swanson concluded. “So far this year hasn’t gone as well as we’d hoped, but now hopefully we can keep this momentum up going forward.”
Swanson mentioned that several years ago Tracy Hines was helpful in developing his technique for high-banked tracks. “Even last fall, I got to sit down with Mack McClellan, Tom Bigelow and Johnny Parsons, and they told stories about this place,” he said. “I took a lot of it to heart, and there was maybe a trick or two I learned from them. I’m thankful for that, and for everybody in my life and the chance to do this.”
Swanson is now a three-time winner of this race. He also won it in 2017 and 2019 when it was held at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg, Ind.
The event was streamed live on Flo Racing.
The next USAC Silver Crown race is at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway Aug. 6. Doran Racing and Swanson are the defending winners of that event, and Swanson led all 100 laps of it last year too.
Prior to that Doran Racing will field an asphalt sprint car for Swanson in the Gene Nolen Classic 500 Sprint Car Tour event July 30 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway, and a similar race Aug. 1 at Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis Raceway Park.
For more information on Doran Racing see DoranRacing.com and follow the team on Facebook.