By Richie Murray
Madison, Illinois (August 27, 2023)………Sunday’s running of the OutFront 100 at World Wide Technology Raceway presented a series of firsts from the driver to the team and even the car itself.
Davey Hamilton Jr. led the final 47 laps of Sunday’s matinee on the Madison, Ill. 1.25-mile paved oval while fending off late-race pressure from both Justin Grant and Bobby Santos to win his first career USAC Silver Crown race.
The Legacy Autosport team, which fielded Hamilton Jr. for the first time earlier this month, also captured its first series win in just the team’s sixth start. The Pittsboro, Ind. based team is owned by Louis Michael Meyer, the great grandson of Louis Meyer, the first three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and the first to celebrate an Indy win with a swig of milk in victory lane back in 1936.
On top of that, the team’s own in-house Legacy Chassis won its first ever race with the series, becoming the first chassis other than a Beast to win a pavement USAC Silver Crown race in 15 years. Chet Fillip’s own Tex-Mex creation had been the most recent non-Beast winner when he scored at Virginia’s Richmond International Raceway in 2008.
Furthermore, for the first time since 1993, an Idaho native is a USAC national feature winner as Hamilton (Boise, Idaho) became the first driver from “The Gem State” to earn a victory since Randy Tolsma was a midget winner at Indianapolis Raceway Park 30 years ago.
One year ago, Hamilton led his first career laps in Silver Crown competition at WWT before going on to a then career best result of second behind Kody Swanson. This time around, Hamilton took advantage when Swanson lost his brakes just before the midway point, and from there on out, Hamilton kept his Legacy Autosport/Metalloid – Penske Shocks/Legacy/Stanton Chevy up front despite a bit of smoke emanating from his car during the final laps.
“It’s a dream come true,” Hamilton stated. “They gave me a call right before Toledo and offered me the ride. They gave me a chance and it has been a solid piece everywhere we’ve gone.”
Even before the race, Hamilton Jr. was running short of breath. After providing pace car rides to the race day patrons, he ran about a mile to his Silver Crown car on pit lane, just making it in time to get strapped in and ready himself for 80 laps of competition.
While Hamilton started from the sixth position, Swanson captured the pole position for the 46th time in his Silver Crown career during Honest Abe Roofing with a time of 30.745 seconds, translating to a blistering 146.365 mph average speed.
At first, third-starting Mario Clouser slipped past the entire front row to lead three-quarters of the first lap. However, outside front row starter Logan Seavey found traction up top to race around Clouser to lead the first two laps – his first on the pavement.
Using the vaunted draft, Swanson regathered himself and drag raced past Seavey on the back straight to claim the lead on lap three. However, Swanson’s time up front was short-lived as C.J. Leary dove to the bottom of turn one to take over the top spot on the fifth lap.
Not only did Leary’s lead become short-lived, but it was the same story for his day as he slowed while leading on the 11th lap with a broken fuel pump, necessitating a caution as he coasted to a stop on the back straight, prematurely ending his day.
Thereafter, Hamilton was on the move, taking second on the lap 15 restart as he powered underneath Clouser in turn two, then began to close in on Swanson for the lead, even showing his front bumper at the entry to turn three before backing out moments later.
Following a Taylor Ferns turn two spin on lap 24, Hamilton, as had been the case all day, showed his prowess on restarts. On the lap 28 edition, he edged ahead of Swanson coming to the green flag to officially lead the lap. Swanson wound it up and was able to wrestle the lead back away from Hamilton in turns one and two to reposition himself at the forefront of the pack.
Ironically, at essentially the same moment in the race Swanson took the lead from Hamilton in last year’s race, the reverse came to be true this time around on lap 34. Hamilton drove to the inside of Swanson and stuck the pass in turns three and four, taking some of the knowledge he learned in the 2022 race and applying it to his Sunday drive.
“It seemed like my car was getting a really good draft behind Kody,” Hamilton revealed. “I had to pull out a couple times just to avoid hitting him. Last year, I learned that this place could hurt you on restarts. So, I did the best I could on getting a good jump. Having these guys behind you is not fun, I’ll tell you that.”
On lap 36, Swanson came right back at Hamilton on the outside of turn one. Just after moving ahead, Swanson dirt-tracked it through turns one and two, getting completely sideways while remaining on the gas in a spectacular save to avoid contact with the wall. Despite the lack of a meeting with the wall, the moment signaled the end of Swanson’s day as he dropped like a rock, falling all the way to 11th before making the first of several pit stops due to a lack of brakes. Swanson ultimately soldiered on but finished a distant 15th, seven laps behind the leader.
With Hamilton now up front, he broke away to a 1.429 second lead with 30 to go when Nathan Byrd’s car went up in smoke along the front straightaway after charging from his 22nd starting spot to fifth. Byrd qualified his normal No. 88, which experienced mechanical trouble in qualifying, but for the race, jumped into the No. 11 regularly piloted by Trey Burke. However, that car spun a spud of the fuel pump early on, forcing Burke into the No. 14, which was originally entered for Davey Hamilton Sr. to drive. It was a true game of race day musical chairs unlike any other in recent memory.
With 13 to go, it became a top-two breakaway up front with Hamilton holding the lead by a few car lengths over Justin Grant. Third running Bobby Santos, however, suddenly became a player with the benefit of the draft as he rapidly closed in on the top-two, shaving nearly 1.5 second off his deficit in a single lap before taking the spot away from Grant on lap 71.
Quickly, Santos was able to get right to Hamilton’s back bumper with seven to go as the front runners began to discard lapped traffic, putting Travis Welpott a lap down. Moments later, it was Welpott (12th) spinning in turn two which caused a late yellow and stifled Santos’ momentous charge, thus creating a green-white-checkered scenario to finish the contest.
Under yellow, Hamilton’s car began to show a little bit of smoke. However, it seemed to be of no deterrence when the race resumed on lap 79. Santos got as close as a car length to Hamilton’s tail in turns one and two on the final lap, but Hamilton was able to peel away and finish off a $10,000 victory by a 0.169 second margin over Santos, Grant and Seavey while Derek Bischak rounded out the top-five with his fourth top-five finish in five starts this season.
Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.) remains the only two-time USAC Silver Crown race winner at WWT Raceway, but he sure did want to become the first three-time victor as well. In the end, Santos came home a close second on Sunday in his DJ Racing/Classic Corvettes – Brown & Miller Racing Solutions – Simpson/Beast/Speedway Chevy. In five USAC Silver Crown starts this season, Santos has now finished inside the top-two on four different occasions.
It’s been a whirlwind weekend for Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.). Roughly 16 hours after winning his third straight USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature in as many nights at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, he was on the move again where a middle-of-the-night drive to WWT Raceway followed his $44,500 evening at Kokomo on Saturday. Grant capped his weekend as the biggest mover of the Silver Crown feature, charging from ninth to third in his Hemelgarn Racing/NOS Energy Drink – Super Fitness – Hemelgarn Enterprises/Beast/Speedway Ford.
Meanwhile, by virtue of his fourth-place result and Kody Swanson’s misfortune, Logan Seavey has reassumed his position at the top of the USAC Silver Crown National Championship standings by a seven-point margin with just three events remaining.
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 27, 2023 – World Wide Technology Raceway – Madison, Illinois – 1.25-Mile Paved Oval – OutFront 100
HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 77, Doran/Binks-30.745; 2. Logan Seavey, 22, Rice/Abacus-30.843; 3. Bobby Santos, 98, DJ-30.865; 4. C.J. Leary, 6, Klatt-30.899; 5. Mario Clouser, 92, Kazmark-31.043; 6. Davey Hamilton Jr., 19, Legacy-31.072; 7. Derek Bischak, 131, Bischak-31.345; 8. Kyle O’Gara, 67, SFHR-31.381; 9. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-31.400; 10. Kaylee Bryson, 26, Pierce-31.595; 11. Trey Burke, 14, Hamilton/SRG-31.633; 12. Taylor Ferns, 555, Ferns-31.774; 13. Nathan Byrd, 88, Byrd-31.788; 14. Dakoda Armstrong, 5, C & A-31.921; 15. Kyle Steffens, 08, Steffens-32.026; 16. Matt Westfall, 81, BCR-32.044; 17. Aaron Pierce, 126, Pierce-32.098; 18. Mike McVetta, 94, RAM-32.504; 19. Bryan Gossel, 06, Gossel-33.379; 20. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott-33.442; 21. Nathan Moore, 48, Thomas-34.620; 22. Tom Paterson, 111, Paterson-35.500; 23. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-39.044; 24. Patrick Lawson, 2, Lawson-39.645; 25. Trey Burke, 11, Hamilton/SRG-NT.
FEATURE: (80 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Davey Hamilton Jr. (6), 2. Bobby Santos (3), 3. Justin Grant (9), 4. Logan Seavey (2), 5. Derek Bischak (7), 6. Trey Burke (11), 7. Kaylee Bryson (10), 8. Kyle O’Gara (8), 9. Mario Clouser (5), 10. Dakoda Armstrong (13), 11. Taylor Ferns (12), 12. Bryan Gossel (17), 13. Nathan Moore (19), 14. Kody Swanson (1), 15. Travis Welpott (18), 16. Matt Westfall (14), 17. Nathan Byrd (#11) (22), 18. Mike McVetta (16), 19. C.J. Leary (4), 20. Tom Paterson (20), 21. Aaron Pierce (15), 22. Patrick Lawson (21).
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Logan Seavey, Laps 3-4 Kody Swanson, Laps 5-10 C.J. Leary, Laps 11-27 Kody Swanson, Lap 28 Davey Hamilton Jr., Laps 29-33 Kody Swanson, Laps 34-80 Davey Hamilton Jr.
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-490, 2-Kody Swanson-483, 3-Justin Grant-363, 4-Mario Clouser-353, 5-Kaylee Bryson-344, 6-Taylor Ferns-320, 7-Bobby Santos-315, 8-Matt Westfall-305, 9-C.J. Leary-291, 10-Derek Bischak-270.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Daison Pursley-152, 2-Logan Seavey-104, 3-Shane Cottle-102, 4-Robert Ballou-87, 5-Matt Westfall-86, 6-Justin Grant-85, 7-Brady Bacon-85, 8-Emerson Axsom-76, 9-Chase Stockon-69, 10-Kevin Thomas Jr.-54.
NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: September 2, 2023 – Du Quoin State Fairgrounds – Du Quoin, Illinois – 1-Mile Dirt Oval – Ted Horn 100
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Practice Fastest Driver: Kody Swanson (30.745)
Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifier: Kody Swanson (30.745)
Hard Charger: Justin Grant (9th to 3rd)