By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Brownsburg, Indiana (October 22, 2022)………The Brothers Swanson corralled all the USAC Silver Crown headlines during Championship Saturday at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
While Tanner Swanson took the feature victory in the 100-lap battle of the Kingsburg, Calif. siblings, it was Kody Swanson who emerged as the series champion once more for the seventh time in his illustrious career.
Tanner tracked down Kody in lapped traffic with 35 circuits remaining, then led the balance of the distance to earn his seventh career USAC Silver Crown win at IRP, tying himself with, you guessed it, Kody, as the all-time winningest series driver at the track.
Meanwhile, Kody, who trailed Logan Seavey by three points entering the event, collected three points for winning his 41st career pole position to lead off the festivities. Kody officially moved atop the series point standings when he led the 51st lap, clinching the three-point bonus awarded to the driver leading the most laps in the feature.
Simultaneously, Kody was experiencing an assault upon the unconditional expression of “Brotherly Love.” Tanner continuously applied pressure to the rear bumper of Kody until executing his move in traffic on lap 66 to make the pass and make himself a happy winner after capturing his first series victory in more than two seasons aboard his Bowman Racing/Bricker’s Pub – T.J. Forged/Beast/Kistler Chevy.
Near midway, Tanner came to the realization that he was pushing too hard. Once the seed of information was planted from his newfound communication via the spotter, Tanner whoa’d up and recalibrated his approach.
“It’s just a high-speed chess match here,” Tanner related. “You’ve got two cars that are that good and I didn’t have any radio communication for the first half of it. I really didn’t know how many laps were left, so I was pushing him a little bit and trying to see where he was at and where I was at. I thought we were feeling pretty good, then I finally got somebody to come over the radio and say ’40 to go,’ and I was like, ‘Uh oh, we’ve been pushing way too hard!’” So, I backed off a little bit, then I got lucky with some lapped cars. Once we got into clean air, we were able to log some good laps.”
“Lucky” is a bit of a misnomer with luck usually playing into the hands of the driver who finds himself in the right place at the right time. That’s precisely where Tanner was on lap 66 when Kody found himself sandwiched between the tail-end lead lap cars of Nathan Byrd and Brian Tyler in turn four. Kody was forced to check up while Tanner carried a full head of steam and dove under all three to snare the lead away at the line.
“Being in second while going through lapped traffic is the best place to be,” Tanner acknowledged. “I was able to make the easy decision while Kody had the hard decision, and I just did whatever he didn’t do. I got really lucky with those two guys who pinned him in. If that hadn’t happened, I don’t know how it would’ve played out.”
Three-quarters of a lap later, the caution fell for the first of the race when Kyle Robbins (13th) spun at the exit of turn four. Jake Day (15th) attempted to avoid by maneuvering to the high side, but clipped Robbins’ left rear wheel with his left front, sending Day on a straight path into the inside wall. Both drivers were okay, but both saw an early end to their races.
Thereafter, Kody lost second when C.J. Leary dove under in turn one to steal the position away on the lap 74 restart. Kody further slid back to fourth when series Rookie Tyler Roahrig, debuting a new Legacy Chassis for the Silver Crown debuting team of Legacy Autosport, impressively went to the topside of turns three and four to squeeze around Kody for the spot with nine laps to go, trailing only race winner Tanner Swanson and runner-up C.J. Leary to the line on the 100th lap.
Despite dropping off the podium during the late stages, the story was already written for Kody’s championship ending. Early in the race, Logan Seavey was running a steady third when the oil pump belt broke, knocking him out of the race on lap 12 and dropping him down to a season-worst 20th place result.
It was a bitter end for Seavey and his Rice Motorsports team who broke a cam in their engine during Friday’s open practice at IRP, then pulled an all-nighter to drop their dirt car engine between the frame rails. However, the struggle to make it fit didn’t initially go as well as hoped. The oil pan was retrofitted by Cold Hard Art to help the cause, and by that point, it was already 4am. Work continued in the shop close to 7am and the trailer and racecar ultimately appeared in IRP’s infield a mere 20 minutes before the first practice session.
Likewise, Kody spent his fair share of shop time as well, practically camping out at Dyson Racing headquarters from the time last Saturday’s Illinois State Fairgrounds race ended until Wednesday night of this past week. When the final checkered waved, the whole plan had come to fruition with Doran Racing and Chris Dyson Racing earning first ever USAC Silver Crown entrant titles while Kody became a USAC Silver Crown champion for the seventh time. That is, despite finishing fourth and having to chase his younger brother to the aforementioned checkered flag.
“Tonight, I’m not even the best in my own family,” Kody said with a laugh. “My brother, Tanner, does an amazing job. He put it on us tonight. We just missed (the setup) a little bit, but these championships are hard to come by and I’m thankful to be surrounded by great people who never give up. We were here until midnight last night trying to get the thing fixed to make it 100 laps, and it did. We still came home fourth and had a solid finish. To cap it off with a championship is a little bit of a silver lining.”
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) made a sweet move late to grab a second place finish in his Klatt Enterprises/Wilwood Disc Brakes – Lucas Oil – Brown & Miller Racing Solutions/Beast/Ford. It marked the best career USAC Silver Crown finish by a Leary at IRP. C.J.’s father, Chuck, finished third in 1999. C.J. also took home a career-best third in the final series points.
It was a terrific USAC Silver Crown debut for the Legacy Autosport team with driver Tyler Roahrig (Plymouth, Ind.) bringing home a third place finish in his Legacy Autosport/Legacy Brand – Metalloid Corporation/Legacy/Legacy Chevy. Roahrig, who won the accompanying 500 Sprint Car Tour feature earlier in the night, charged from ninth, then used a high side pass of Kody Swanson with nine laps to go to swipe the third spot. In two career IRP Silver Crown starts over the past two seasons, Roahrig has now finished second and third.