Kaylee Bryson Indy Racing Images Photo

By Richie Murray

Springfield, Illinois (August 17, 2023)………There’s nothing much better than dirt mile season on the racing calendar.

It’s a rare treat of high-speed racing courtesy of the USAC Silver Crown National Championship in front of the covered grandstands while the smell of deep fried Oreos and the sound of the Tea Cup ride fills the central Illinois air.

This Saturday’s 60th running of the Bettenhausen 100 Presented By Hunt Brothers Pizza truly will have it all when 44 of the bravest drivers and fastest dirt machinery graces the Springfield Mile under the daylight on August 19.

Here’s six storylines to whet your appetite as we prepare for state fair time at one of the most majestic settings in all of motorsports – champ car racing at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.


The monstrous 44-car entry list is the largest of any kind for the USAC Silver Crown series in 18 years!

The last time the field reached this level came in 2005 at Indianapolis Raceway Park when 46 arrived at the .686-mile paved oval. That same season, 45 cars were on hand for the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds dirt mile.

As for Springfield, you’ll have to go all the way back to 2001 to see a car count of this size when 48 signed in on that day 22 years ago.

Not only does this field of quality and quantity present a show that will produce a plethora of race-winning contenders. The race to make the race will be just as crucial and competitive.

The top-24 qualifiers on time will be locked into the 100-lap main event. The remaining 20 will be slotted into a 12-lap last chance qualifying race which will transfer only the top-six into the feature.


Kody Swanson enters the Bettenhausen 100 as the winner of the past three consecutive USAC Silver Crown races, all of which have come on pavement at Madison, Winchester and Toledo.

Swanson is one of only three drivers to have ever won at least four-in-a-row in series competition. Tom Bigelow was the first to achieve the feat over a span of overlapping seasons in 1975-76. Jack Hewitt did the same a decade later during his first championship season. Furthermore, Bigelow and Hewitt’s winning streaks included a victory at Springfield.

In 2018, Swanson captured a series record five-in-a-row. However, his streak came to an end that year when a steering issue knocked him out of the Springfield race while running near the front with just 30 laps to go.

Swanson has won three previous times at Springfield, in 2014, 2015 and 2021. Now he aims to join an exclusive list of drivers to win at least four editions of the Bettenhausen 100: Chuck Gurney (7), A.J. Foyt (4), Brian Tyler (4) and Jack Hewitt (4).


Illinois native Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.) made the move late in last year’s race to win at his home state track and become a first-time Bettenhausen 100 winner after leading the final 26 laps.

This year, he tries to become the 10th back-to-back winner in race history, following in the shoes of Jim Hurtubise (1961-62), A.J. Foyt (1964-65), Mario Andretti (1973-74), Chuck Gurney (1984-85), Jack Hewitt (1986-87), Chuck Gurney (1989-90-91), Brian Tyler (2004-05), A.J. Fike (2012-13) and Kody Swanson (2014-15).

Furthermore, Cockrum is just one of 26 drivers to win a AAA/USAC Champ Car race at both the Illinois State Fairgrounds and the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in his career.

Already a back-to-back winner at Du Quoin in 2014-15, this weekend, Cockrum will also attempt to become the sixth driver to win consecutively at both tracks in his career. The lone five individuals to do so previously are among the heavyweights in the history of the sport: Mario Andretti, Tony Bettenhausen, Jimmy Bryan, A.J. Foyt and Jack Hewitt.


Although she was passed late in the race by Shane Cockrum a year ago, it was Kaylee Bryson who stole the show early on during the running of the 2022 Bettenhausen 100.

After qualifying for the outside of the front row, the Muskogee, Okla. native proceeded to lead 72 of the first 74 laps while using the daunting high line despite an engine that was down a cylinder.

After bringing the crowd to a frenzied roar throughout, she went on to finish fifth, setting two records in the process as the first woman to lead a lap with the series and the first woman to finish inside the top-five of a dirt Silver Crown race.

Despite the run coming in just her third career series start, she is still considered a Rookie of the Year contender in 2023 with the series, and currently leads all Rookie drivers with a third place standing in the points behind only Kody Swanson and Logan Seavey.

On Saturday, she looks to become not only a first-time series winner but also the first woman to ever capture a USAC National feature victory.


Dating back to 2008, all drivers who have been credited as the hard charger of the Bettenhausen 100 have finished inside the top-10.

The dirt miles seemingly see a major advancement by a driver from the back of the pack on a regular basis. These are the drivers who have managed to play their cards right and picked their spots correctly when making their move forward.

The last five runnings of the race have seen the following: Jeff Swindell (28th to 3rd in 2017), David Byrne (25th to 10th in 2018), David Gravel (26th to 2nd in 2020), Kody Swanson (23rd to 1st in 2021) and Brian Tyler (22nd to 6th in 2022).

Six drivers have been both the hard charger and the race winner of a champ car race at Springfield over the years: Johnnie Parsons (17th to 1st in 1949), Tony Bettenhausen (14th to 1st in 1951), A.J. Foyt (16th to 1st in 1964), Kenny Irwin Jr. (28th to 1st in 1995), Brian Tyler (21st to 1st in 2004) and Kody Swanson (23rd to 1st in 2021).

In fact, Irwin’s advancement from 28th is the largest in USAC Silver Crown history. Additionally, Chuck Gurney’s move from 31st to 2nd back in the 1986 Bettenhausen 100 is the biggest charge in series history by a non-race-winner.


An intriguing Rookie class will be on hand to take their first crack at the Springfield Mile. Of note, only one driver to date has won in his first Bettenhausen 100 try, that being Cole Whitt in 2009.

This year’s crop taking on the dirt mile for the first time ever includes the likes of central Pennsylvania winged sprint car racer Chase Dietz (York, Pa.) who nearly won in his first career USAC Silver Crown start, finishing second at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway in June.

USAC National Sprint Car and National Midget winner Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) is also part of this group after setting quick time and a new track record in his most recent series outing at Port Royal.

Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), likewise a USAC National Sprint and Midget frontrunner, will be riding with the Nolen Racing team, which captured a 2018 Bettenhausen 100 victory with driver Chris Windom.

Silver Crown Rookie Trey Burke (Alvin, Texas) will make his dirt mile debut, and his family has a long lineage at Springfield. Trey’s grandfather, Ronnie Burke made seven Bettenhausen 100 starts between 1972-1997, finishing a best of seventh in 1976. Trey’s great uncle, Jackie Burke, made four Springfield starts between 1998-2015, taking 18th in 2014.

Wayne Johnson (Tuttle, Okla.) is on board for his first mile run in a champ car during his star-studded career, which has been almost exclusively in winged sprint cars. USAC CRA Sprint Car standout Matt Mitchell (Yorba Linda, Calif.) will experience Springfield for the first time as will Indiana sprint car shoe Ryan Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.).


On Saturday in Springfield, pits and registration open at 7am Central with the ticket office and grandstands opening at 9am, the drivers meeting at 9:30am, practice from 10am-11:10am, Honest Abe Roofing Qualifying at 11:30am, followed by the qualifying race, pre-race ceremonies and the 100-lap main event at 2pm.

Tickets will be available on race day or by calling the State Fair office at 217-782-1979. Info and tickets can also be obtained by calling the Track Enterprises office at 217-764-3200.

Advance tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children 11 and under. At the gate on race day, adults are $30 and $10 for children 11 and under. Infield tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children 11 and under. Pit passes are $35 for USAC members and $40 for non-members. Infield parking is $5 for those parking in the infield with no infield or pit passes.

Every lap of Saturday’s Bettenhausen 100 will be aired live on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3AMU46z.



07 (R) JOHN TOSTI/High Ridge, MO (John Tosti)

08 KYLE STEFFENS/St. Charles, MO (Gordon Steffens)

2 PATRICK LAWSON/Edwardsville, IL (Patrick Lawson)

3 (R) TIM SIMMONS/Cabot, AR (Tim Simmons)

5 (R) MATT MITCHELL/Yorba Linda, CA (DMW Motorsports)

6 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Klatt Enterprises)

8 DAVEY RAY/Davenport, IA (Cornell Racing Stables)

9 SHANE COTTLE/Kansas, IL (Chris Dyson Racing)

10 JAKE SWANSON/Anaheim, CA (DMW Motorsports)

11 (R) TREY BURKE/Alvin, TX (Davey Hamilton Racing/SRG)

12 (R) WAYNE JOHNSON/Tuttle, OK (Two C Racing)

14 STEVEN RUSSELL/Rochester, IL (McQuinn Motorsports)

15 CHRIS FETTER/Troy, MO (Chris Fetter)

18 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)

20 (R) EMERSON AXSOM/Franklin, IN (Nolen Racing)

22 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports)

24 JERRY COONS JR./Tucson, AZ (John Haggenbottom)

25 CASEY BUCKMAN/Chandler, AZ (C-Buck Motorsports)

26 (R) KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Sam Pierce)

31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)

32 GREGG CORY/Shelbyville, IN (Williams Racing)

34 (R) GARY DUNKLE/Lincoln, NE (Gary Dunkle)

44 DANNY LONG/Bonne Terre, MO (Danny Long)

51 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (Gamester Racing)

52 CARMEN PERIGO/Stoystown, PA (John Stehman)

53 A.J. FIKE/Galesburg, IL (Five Three Motorsports)

69 CHASE STOCKON/Fort Branch, IN (Pink 69 Racing)

71 SHANE COCKRUM/Benton, IL (BLS Motorsports)

77 CHRIS URISH/Elkhart, IL (Chris Urish)

81 MATT WESTFALL/Pleasant Hill, OH (BCR Group)

86 (R) CHASE DIETZ/York, PA (Bruce Lee)

91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)

92 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Kazmark Motorsports)

95 PATRICK BRUNS/Champaign, IL (Full Throttle Racing)

97 (R) MITCHEL MOLES/Raisin City, CA (Hans Lein)

99 KOREY WEYANT/Springfield, IL (Scott Weyant)

107 JACOB WILSON/Crawfordsville, IN (Wilson Brothers Racing)

110 (R) CARY OLIVER/Buncombe, IL (Cary Oliver)

111 TOM PATERSON/Argos, IN (Tom Paterson)

118 (R) RYAN THOMAS/Indianapolis, IN (Wingo Brothers Racing)

126 AARON PIERCE/Muncie, IN (Sam Pierce)

177 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Doran-Binks Racing)

555 TAYLOR FERNS/Shelby Township, MI (Taylor Ferns Racing)

777 (R) DAVE PEPERAK/Clinton, IN (Dave Peperak Motorsports)

(R) represents a USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contender