Kody Swanson Jack Reitz Photo

By Richie Murray

Speedway, Indiana (October 24, 2022)………Throughout the first 51 years of the USAC Silver Crown series’ existence, the number 1 had never captured the championship.

But if there’s anybody who was up to the task to alter that half-a-century narrative, it was certainly Kody Swanson.

Swanson’s efforts led him to become just the third driver in USAC history to earn seven national championships within a single division. A.J. Foyt grabbed seven USAC Championship Car titles between 1960-79. Mel Kenyon performed likewise, scoring seven crowns with the USAC National Midgets between 1964-1985.

Kody has made quick work of his seven USAC Silver Crown championships, which have all been earned in a nine-season span between 2014-2022.

In a unique partnership, Swanson wheeled entries for both Doran Racing and Chris Dyson Racing as completely separate entities throughout his quest to the 2021 series championship. In 2022, the two teams combined forces on paper to earn each team’s first ever entrant title.

The newly christened Doran-Dyson Racing partnership operated from separate shops to house Doran’s pavement car and Dyson’s dirt car for Swanson to drive. The shared team name and number presented an opportunity for all parties to compete under the same umbrella for the same united goal – to win a season championship.

What’s unparallelly interesting about the Doran and Dyson pairing is the two team’s shared backgrounds in road racing. In fact, a photo from the 1980s currently hangs in the Doran team shop and features Al Holbert at speed in IMSA Camel GT competition, driving the famed Lowenbrau Porsche 962 that Kevin Doran was the crew chief of. In the background of that same photo, as fate would have it, was a Dyson Racing machine.

All these years later, the two teamed up for left turns only, and became champions of the oval track variety.

“I’m really fortunate to have the opportunities that I’ve had,” Swanson acknowledged. “I’ve driven for a lot of great race teams and I’m thankful for each one. This year, to have driven for Doran and Dyson in a combination effort, what a special year to do it and have it come down right to the end. We gave it all we had and it’s really special to win the championship any way you can. Winning a USAC title really means a lot and to have it be a seventh is really special.”

While finishes of 7th at Terre Haute, 2nd at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, 8th at Port Royal and 4th at Madison and a third-place position in points may not seem that unsettling to most observers, consider this. The four-race drought was the longest winless stretch Swanson has endured to start a Silver Crown season since 2013, nearly a full decade ago.

Oddly enough, it was a non-points, special event that kickstarted Swanson’s summertime turnaround which put the Kingsburg, Calif. native in the driver’s seat of the championship run following the first non-championship Silver Crown event of its kind since 1996.

Swanson led the 25-lap, 10-car shootout wire-to-wire in June at IRP. It’s a roll he matriculated into Winchester Speedway where he avenged the previous year’s half-car-length defeat with a triumph in which he was 10 seconds ahead of the field at the finish line, putting all but second place finisher Logan Seavey a lap down.

Since 1976, there had been one individual who stood head and shoulders above all others in terms of USAC national feature victories at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway. That was Rollie Beale. In August, Swanson topped the 1973 USAC National Sprint Car champion’s long-standing win record in the race named after the legend he passed. Swanson once again led all 100 laps in succession for his sixth career Toledo victory.

Onto mid-August, it was relatively the same story at Illinois’ World Wide Technology Raceway. Earlier in the day, Swanson became the first to reach 40 career USAC Silver Crown pole positions during a qualifying run which set a new world speed record for a traditional USAC Silver Crown with a time of 30.675 seconds, which translates to 146.699 mph, eclipsing the former speed record for a traditional Silver Crown car set by himself at Iowa Speedway with a 146.212 mph in 2012.

The term “traditional” is used in this matter due to the utilization of a “New Generation” “Super Speedway” car that was used in competition solely during the years of 2006-07. Aaron Pierce turned a qualifying lap of 175.012 mph during the brief era in USAC history at Florida’s Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2006.

At WWTR, Swanson saw the lead slip away early, but made his way back to the front to lead the final 48 laps of the 80-lap affair at the 1.25-mile paved oval located in the shadow of the St. Louis arch.

Now 63 points ahead, the championship seemed well within hand for Swanson as the series moved into a stretch of dirt races. However, that part of the equation suited second place points runner Seavey quite well down the stretch.

Seavey made up ground with a victory in an attrition-filled race at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds, which saw just seven of the 30 starters still running at the checkered of the 100-lap distance. In doing so, Seavey became the third driver to win both a stock car and champ car race at the Du Quoin Mile along with Jimmy Bryan and A.J. Foyt.

Swanson still maintained full control of the point standings by late September after a somewhat sluggish beginning, but one bit of misfortune can spell near doom and gloom, and that’s what eventually came to be.

“We struggled at the beginning of the year; it was just kind of the way it went,” Swanson recalled. “We didn’t have the dirt race finishes that we wanted, and it was the same with the pavement. We struggled at Madison, but we got hot there in that stretch of summer to resurrect it, but I hate that I made an error at Eldora and almost gave it all away.”

The 4-Crown Nationals at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in September proved to be exhilarating for Seavey and crushing for Swanson. While Seavey was punishing the field en route to his third consecutive dirt Silver Crown victory of the season, Swanson experienced the complete other end of the spectrum in the first turn on the first lap.

That’s when fifth-starting Swanson and fellow third row starter Carmen Perigo collided, sending Swanson backwards into the outside retaining wall where he was then clipped by the right rear tire of the oncoming Matt Westfall, resulting in a bent axle for Swanson which knocked him out of the race and into a 27th place result, the worst finishing position of his entire USAC Silver Crown career.

The melee accrued disastrous consequences for Swanson as his commanding 57-point lead entering the race dwindled to zero by the end of the night and emerged knotted up alongside Seavey atop the standings with two races remaining.

Seavey and Swanson stayed pretty much in lock step following October’s run at the Illinois State Fairgrounds dirt mile. There, Seavey took third and Swanson fourth, giving Seavey a three-point edge entering the finale right in Swanson’s wheelhouse a week later on the pavement at IRP.

Swanson performed as expected, winning the pole to grab three bonus points which drew him even with Seavey going into the final 100 laps of the year. Swanson took off with the lead while Seavey stayed in the hunt, running a solid third on lap 12 when the proverbial carpet was pulled from beneath him. The culprit for Seavey was a broken oil pump belt, ending his shot at a title run.

Meanwhile, when Swanson crossed the line in front on lap 51, he clinched three more bonus points for leading the most laps which elevated him ahead of Seavey once and for all. With Seavey on the sidelines, Swanson finished 4th once more and ultimately took the title by a 41-point margin. He also became the 14th driver overall, and the first since 2016, to overtake the point leader for the championship in the final race.

Seven driver tallied victories during the 2022 Silver Crown season with Seavey and Swanson both putting one on the board on three occasions. All three for Seavey came on dirt and all three came on pavement for Swanson.

Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) won the season opener in May at Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track via a pass of Jerry Coons Jr. with four laps remaining and extended his consecutive start streak with the series to 71, which ranks as the fourth most all-time behind Brian Tyler’s 97, Kody Swanson’s 88 and Dave Darland’s 79.

Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.) earned his first USAC Silver Crown score in more than four years after regaining the lead back from Kody Swanson late in the going during a late-May go at IRP.

So-called “dirt guy” C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) displayed his pavement prowess with a dominant performance in June at Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway, his first win on pavement since he was behind the wheel of TQ Midgets and karts during the early stages of his racing career.

Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) became the 26th driver to win a AAA/USAC Champ Car race at both Illinois dirt miles in his career. He found redemption in October at the Illinois State Fairgrounds with popular victory after previously winning at Du Quoin in 2014-15.

Tanner Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) made it an all-Swanson evening in October’s finale at IRP, passing brother Kody for the lead with 35 laps to go on his way to his first series win in two years while his older sibling celebrated a series championship.

Swanson led or was tied in nearly every single statistical category. His 322 laps led were the most as were his top-tens (10) and pole positions (5). He and Seavey each pegged eight top-fives throughout the run.

Gregg Cory (Shelbyville, Ind.) made his first foray into USAC Silver Crown racing a successful one in 2022 after previously finding success in TQ Midgets and Sprint Cars, bagging a Paragon (Ind.) Speedway track championship in 2006. He made starts in 10 of the 11 main events and finished a best of 10th at IRP in May.

Third place was the best finish by a series Rookie in 2022 with two drivers reaching the mark. Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) snared a third in August at World Wide Technology Raceway while Tyler Roahrig (Plymouth, Ind.) rode the high line to pick up third in the last show of the year at IRP.

Casey Buckman (Chandler, Ariz.) recorded his best career USAC Silver Crown finish at the Du Quoin 100-miler where he also made the biggest move of the season. Buckman, the track and facility manager at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park by day, charged from his 23rd starting position to finish 5th.

Six drivers made feature starts in all 11 events during the 2022 campaign: Grant, Leary, Seavey, Swanson, Brian Tyler (Parma, Mich.) and Travis Welpott (Pendleton, Ind.).

Women made a huge impact on the USAC Silver Crown scene with historical performances from two different drivers. Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.) became the first woman to finish on the podium of a USAC Silver Crown event at IRP in May, then repeated her feat with another third place result in July at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway.

Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) captivated the audience with a rim-riding effort on seven cylinders at the Illinois State Fairgrounds while becoming the first woman to lead a single lap in the history of the Silver Crown series. In fact, she led 72 out of the 100 laps before finishing in the 5th spot.

The series was saddened to learn of the death of Terre Babb (Decatur, Ill.), who passed away from a heart attack while leading a winged sprint car feature in a non-USAC sanctioned event at Missouri’s Saint Francois County Raceway in July at the age of 55. Babb had competed with the USAC Silver Crown series since 1989, and in May of 2022, made his 31st and final USAC Silver Crown start at Terre Haute, finishing 9th. His career best finish with the series came at the same track in 2010 where he earned a 4th.



Most Wins: 3-Logan Seavey & Kody Swanson

Driver Champion: Kody Swanson

Entrant Champion: Doran-Dyson Racing #1

Rookie of the Year: Gregg Cory

Most Laps Led: 322-Kody Swanson

Most Top-Fives: 8-Logan Seavey & Kody Swanson

Most Top-Tens: 10-Kody Swanson

Most Fast Qualifying Times: 5-Kody Swanson

Best Finish By A Rookie: 3rd – Aug 19 at World Wide Technology Raceway (Mario Clouser) & Oct 22 at Lucas Oil Raceway (Tyler Roahrig)

Most Feature Starts: 11-Justin Grant, C.J. Leary, Logan Seavey, Kody Swanson, Brian Tyler & Travis Welpott

Most Positions Advanced in a Race: Sep 5 at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds – Casey Buckman (23rd to 5th)