By Richie Murray
Toledo, Ohio (August 4, 2022)………During last fall’s Rollie Beale Classic at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway, as if it wasn’t already evident enough, it became even more abundantly clear that Kody Swanson possesses the rare and unique talent to make the extraordinary seem commonplace.
He made that happen again in the last round of the USAC Silver Crown season in July as the six-time series champion took over possession of the point lead entering this Saturday night’s 100-lap Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic Fueled By Marco’s Pizza on August 6.
For the high majority of the 2021 race at Toledo’s high-banked, half-mile paved oval, Swanson performed just as you’d come to expect from the series’ winningest driver. The first 83.5 trips around the half-mile paved oval were relatively free of stress for Swanson, but a bit of turn three duress nearly derailed both his bid for the race win and the driving title.
It was then that Swanson got caught up in a melee, smashing his left front of his nose and wheel into the rear bumper of a spinning car, testing the maximum limits of metal’s unmalleable flexibility. A major puncture wound to the nose and a bent axle became the battle scars Swanson carried for the final 13 circuits en route to victory, and despite all the lingering circumstances, Swanson remained untouchable and unmalleable in his own right.
Swanson enters Saturday’s event as the defending race winner and has won each of the last three at Toledo, among his grand total of five USAC Silver Crown race victories at the venue in 2011-15-18-19-21. He’s also the only driver to have started all eight USAC Silver Crown events at Toledo and has yet to finish outside the top-four in any of those eight starts.
Swanson has led 555 of the 900 laps ever run by Silver Crown cars at Toledo at a clip of 61.66 percent. He’s also won the pole five times at Toledo in 2011, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021. His first, in 2011, remains the one-lap Silver Crown track record – 14.809 sec. (121.548 mph avg.).
However, he’s not the only driver who can dominate the asphalt as a loaded field of 24 USAC Silver Crown racers and teams file into Toledo to pound the pavement in the Glass City.
Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.) is the only driver to win at Toledo Speedway in a USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Silver Crown car in his career, and took the checkered at the Rollie Beale Classic in 2017. A feather in his cap is being the most recent driver not named Kody Swanson to win with the series at Toledo. The pavement ace has finished inside the top-three in a Crown car at Toledo on five occasions, 3rd in 2012, 1st in 2017, 2nd in 2018, 2nd in 2019 and 2nd again in 2021 in addition to a King of the Wing Sprint Car win there in 2017.
A mere three-points separate the top-three in the USAC Silver Crown championship fight with Swanson leading over Logan Seavey and C.J. Leary who are each tied, three points apiece behind Swanson. Both Seavey and Leary are pursuing a first Silver Crown driving title.
Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) has emerged as a frontrunner to contend with on the pavement. Known primarily for his dirt prowess, the 2019 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Champion not only won, but dominated the Silver Crown visit to Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway this past June. He’ll be making his first Toledo appearance in three seasons. He finished a best of 11th at Toledo in 2015.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) will be aiming to make gains toward a Silver Crown championship run with a solid Toledo finish. He’s already been in victory lane on the dirt with the series this season at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway. Seavey is a past USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Champion from the 2018 season and, at Toledo, he earned a 10th place result in 2021.
Brian Tyler (Parma, Mich.) owns USAC winning experience at Toledo, capturing a National Sprint Car round there during the 2001 season. Tyler put together his best Toledo Silver Crown result in 2021 with a late surge to finish 3rd. Back in 2010 and 2011, the two-time USAC National Sprint Car champion notched back-to-back 6th place Silver Crown runs at Toledo.
Past series champion Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) set quick time in qualifying at Toledo in 2018. He’s earned top-ten Toledo Silver Crown finishes with a 10th in both 2017 and 2018, then turned in a personal best 4th in 2019. His car is owned by race sponsor Ron Hemelgarn, who was also the winning owner for Buddy Lazier’s 1996 Indianapolis 500 entry. Dennis LaCava was with the team on its big day a quarter century ago and will be turning the wrenches for Grant at Toledo this Saturday.
Eric Gordon (Greenfield, Ind.), likewise, has been victorious in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition at Toledo, winning his first career USAC race there back in 1989. In Silver Crown competition at Toledo, Gordon has tallied a 4th in 2018 and a 10th back in 2011.
Austin Nemire, from nearby Sylvania, Ohio, made his first career Silver Crown start at Toledo in 2015, finishing 7th, followed it up in 2018 with a solid 6th. Nemire has been consistently steady over the years at Toledo, taking a best finish of 6th in 2018, then was the hard charger in 2019, moving his way through the field to a 7th place finish after starting 20th. In 2021, the story unfolded similarly with Nemire charging from 15th to finish 8th.
Russ Gamester (Peru, Ind.) has made four Toledo Silver Crown starts with a best of 11th in 2019. He took 8th with the USAC National Sprint Cars at Toledo in 2011 and was 4th during an Auto Value Super Sprint feature there in 2019.
Nathan Byrd, Kyle O’Gara and Taylor Ferns each recorded their best Toledo Silver Crown results the last time around in 2021. Byrd (Goodyear, Ariz.) scored a career-best 6th in the event while O’Gara (Beech Grove, Ind.) came home 7th and Silver Crown racing’s most successful woman, Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.), notched a 9th.
Returning for Toledo action this Saturday are 2018 series Rookie of the Year, New Castle, Indiana’s Kyle Robbins (11th in 2018); Pendleton, Indiana’s Travis Welpott (9th in 2018); Levittown, Pennsylvania’s Mike Haggenbottom (11th in 2021); Abilene, Texas’ Jake Day (12th in 2021), Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania’s Dave Berkheimer (22nd in 2021) and Grafton, Ohio’s Mike McVetta (16th in 2021).
McVetta is one of two Ohio natives in Saturday’s field along with Nemire. McVetta captured Midwest Supermodified Series (MSS) championships in 2018 and 2019 as well as the Buckeye Super Sprint title in 2011. The Dick and Deborah Myers owned team sure knows the fast way around Toledo. Their winged sprint car possesses the fastest lap ever turned at Toledo, a 12.096 set in 2018.
Getting their first taste of USAC Silver Crown experience at Toledo are pavement stud Derek Bischak (Angola, Ind.), plus five USAC Silver Crown Rookies, including USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget standout Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.), leading Silver Crown Rookie Gregg Cory (Shelbyville, Ind.), Nick Hamilton (Danville, Ind.), Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) and Tom Paterson (Argos, Ind.).
Saturday’s event honors legendary Toledo native and 1973 USAC Sprint Car champion driver and also marks the ninth appearance by the series at Toledo since 2010.
The Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic Fueled by Marco’s Pizza will feature the USAC Silver Crown National Championship plus Late Model Sportsman and Factory Stocks. Vintage Race Cars will also be on display.
The USAC pit gate opens/rig parking begins at 2pm Eastern on race day Saturday. The track ticket office opens and spectator gates open at 4:30pm. USAC Silver Crown practice runs from 4:30-5:15pm. USAC Silver Crown Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying begins at 5:45pm. Parade laps for the vintage cars is slated for 6:35pm. USAC Silver Crown cars and drivers will be called to front stretch at 6:50pm.
Getting closer to showtime, there will be a Beale family introduction, a brief racer reunion, the national anthems starting at 6:50 followed by driver introductions and the Rollie Beale Classic main event at 7pm.
Tickets are $25, kids 6-12 are $5, while ages 5 and under are free. Add $1 per ticket for online ticket purchases at http://www.toledospeedway.com/.
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Kody Swanson-308, 2-Logan Seavey-305, 3-C.J. Leary-305, 4-Brian Tyler-239, 5-Justin Grant-221, 6-Taylor Ferns-180, 7-Travis Welpott-176, 8-Bobby Santos-172, 9-Gregg Cory-147, 10-Brady Bacon-128.
2022 ROLLIE BEALE CLASSIC ENTRY LIST:
1 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Doran-Dyson Racing)
6 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Klatt Enterprises)
7 KYLE ROBBINS/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
11 (R) NATHAN BYRD/Goodyear, AZ (Hamilton-Byrd Racing)
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
18 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)
22 BOBBY SANTOS/Franklin, MA (DJ Racing)
24 MIKE HAGGENBOTTOM/Levittown, PA (John Haggenbottom)
26 (R) KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Sam Pierce)
31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)
32 (R) GREGG CORY/Shelbyville, IN (Williams Racing)
42 (R) JAKE DAY/Abilene, Texas (Jake Day)
51 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (Gamester Racing)
55 TAYLOR FERNS/Shelby Township, MI (Taylor Ferns Racing)
67 KYLE O’GARA/Beech Grove, IN (SFHR Development)
80 (R) NICK HAMILTON/Danville, IN (Breidinger Motorsports)
81 BRIAN TYLER/Parma, MI (BCR Group)
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
92 (R) MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Kazmark Motorsports)
94 (R) MIKE MCVETTA/Grafton OH (Dick & Deborah Myers)
99 ERIC GORDON/Greenfield, IN (Brad & Tara Armstrong)
111 (R) TOM PATERSON/Argos, IN (Tom Paterson)
131 DEREK BISCHAK/Angola, IN (Derek Bischak)
222 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports)
(R) represents a USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contender
TRACK RECORDS FOR USAC SILVER CROWN AT TOLEDO SPEEDWAY
1 Lap – 10/15/2011 – Kody Swanson – 14.809 – 121.548 mph
100 Laps – 6/29/2012 – Jerry Coons Jr. – 27:07.40 – 110.606 mph
TOLEDO USAC SILVER CROWN WINS:
2-Jerry Coons Jr.
TOLEDO USAC SILVER CROWN WINNERS:
2010: Jerry Coons Jr. (10/16)
2011: Kody Swanson (10/15)
2012: Jerry Coons Jr. (6/29)
2015: Kody Swanson (5/1)
2017: Bobby Santos (7/28)
2018: Kody Swanson (5/4)
2019: Kody Swanson (4/28)
2021: Kody Swanson (10/10)
PAST USAC SILVER CROWN RESULTS AT TOLEDO SPEEDWAY:
2010 FEATURE: (150 laps) 1. Jerry Coons Jr., 2. Kody Swanson, 3. Bobby East, 4. Bryan Clauson, 5. A.J. Fike, 6. Brian Tyler, 7. Levi Jones, 8. Bud Kaeding, 9. Justin Carver, 10. Zach Daum, 11. Dave Darland, 12. Russ Gamester, 13. Derek Hagar, 14. Zach Martini, 15. Tanner Swanson, 16. Tracy Hines, 17. Shane Hollingsworth, 18. Jeff Swindell, 19. Troy DeCaire, 20. Jacob Wilson. NT
2011 FEATURE: (150 laps) 1. Kody Swanson, 2. Bryan Clauson, 3. Bobby East, 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 5. Darren Hagen, 6. Brian Tyler, 7. Levi Jones, 8. Kyle Hamilton, 9. Shane Hollingsworth, 10. Eric Gordon, 11. Tracy Hines, 12. David Byrne, 13. Kyle Larson, 14. Derek Hagar, 15. A.J. Fike, 16. Russ Gamester, 17. Jimmy Kite, 18. Tanner Swanson, 19. Doug Berryman. NT
2012 FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Jerry Coons Jr., 2. Bobby East, 3. Bobby Santos, 4. Kody Swanson, 5. Tracy Hines, 6. Kyle Hamilton, 7. Tanner Swanson, 8. A.J. Fike, 9. Levi Jones, 10. Jacob Wilson, 11. Bud Kaeding, 12. Eric Gordon, 13. Brian Tyler, 14. Doug Berryman, 15. Taylor Ferns. 27:07.40
2015 FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Kody Swanson, 2. Jacob Wilson, 3. A.J. Fike, 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 5. Aaron Pierce, 6. David Byrne, 7. Austin Nemire, 8. Dave Baumgartner, 9. Tracy Hines, 10. Rex Norris III, 11. C.J. Leary, 12. Tim Barber, 13. Jarett Andretti, 14. Jimmy McCune, 15. Tanner Swanson, 16. Bobby Santos, 17. Kyle Hamilton, 18. Patrick Lawson. NT
2017 FEATURE: (103 laps) 1. Bobby Santos, 2. Kody Swanson, 3. Chris Windom, 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 5. Joe Liguori, 6. Davey Hamilton, 7. Joe Axsom, 8. David Byrne, 9. Annie Breidinger, 10. Justin Grant, 11. Troy Thompson, 12. Aaron Pierce, 13. Joss Moffatt, 14. Damion Gardner, 15. Matt Goodnight. 28:48.16
2018 FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Kody Swanson (9), 2. Bobby Santos (4), 3. David Byrne (7), 4. Eric Gordon (16), 5. Aaron Pierce (6), 6. Austin Nemire (8), 7. Cody Gerhardt (15), 8. Matt Goodnight (10), 9. Travis Welpott (11), 10. Justin Grant (1), 11. Kyle Robbins (12, 12. Toni Breidinger (14), 13. Jerry Coons Jr. (2), 14. Kyle Hamilton (3), 15. Chris Windom (5), 16. Dave Darland (13). NT
2019 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bobby Santos (11), 3. Aaron Pierce (3), 4. Justin Grant (6), 5. Chris Windom (10), 6. Kyle Hamilton (2), 7. Austin Nemire (20), 8. Derek Bischak (12), 9. Joey Schmidt (13), 10. Brian Gerster (19), 11. Russ Gamester (16), 12. Mike Haggenbottom (22), 13. Cody Gerhardt (21), 14. Kyle Robbins (17), 15. Cody Gallogly (18), 16. Chris Dyson (14), 17. Matt Goodnight (15), 18. Eric Gordon (4), 19. David Byrne (7), 20. Jason Conn (9), 21. C.J. Leary (5), 22. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (8). NT
2021 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bobby Santos (4), 3. Brian Tyler (7), 4. David Byrne (3), 5. Davey Hamilton Jr. (14), 6. Nathan Byrd (10), 7. Kyle O’Gara (6), 8. Austin Nemire (15), 9. Taylor Ferns (5), 10. Logan Seavey (12), 11. Mike Haggenbottom (19), 12. Jake Day (21), 13. Tyler Roahrig (8), 14. Annie Breidinger (20), 15. Russ Gamester (11), 16. Mike McVetta (17), 17. Justin Grant (2), 18. Jim Anderson (13), 19. Travis Welpott (18), 20. Aaron Pierce (16), 21. Kyle Robbins (9), 22. Dave Berkheimer (22). NT