August 23, 2020
What a racing weekend!
One of the busiest weekends in motorsports this season has passed into the history book. I wanted to follow as many races as possible including a chance to attend what could have been my only chance to cover a race live this season.
On Thursday evening the plan was to cover the races at Thunder Road in Barre, Vermont. Unfortunately on Tuesday while playing the “tough” sport of t ball at my daughter’s home in Huntington, Vermont, I tripped over my six year-old grandson Soren and we both fell. He recovered quickly despite getting stepped on.
Grampy was not so fortunate, I dislocated a rib and spent two days in bed, flat on my back with sharp biting pain whenever I moved or sat up. The pain was unlike anything I had experienced before. I have new found respect for anyone who breaks or bruises ribs. OUCH!
Thus no races at Thunder Road. I was, however, able to follow several races via the internet and get messages from a few drivers involved.
Swanson, Swanson, Santos III, Swanson, Larson
Regular readers of UpNorth Motorsports know that I have covered the inside story of a few drivers on the national scene who for a variety of reasons have caught my eye. One of the most prominent has been 32 year old Kody Swanson, Kingsburg, California now living in Indianapolis, Indiana.
This weekend he competed in a total of four USAC and one Road to Indy races in the Indianapolis area. I had to take note of that craziness for sure.
Race One…Road to Indy Pro 2000 the Freedom 90
Friday evening at Lucas Oil Raceway (LOR) in Brownsburg, Indiana, a stone throw away from Indianapolis, the Road to Indy (RTI) Pro 2000 Series was in town for one of their two oval track races in 2020. This series is used to feed drivers up the pipeline to the IndyCar Series.
Earlier this season, I reported that 5-Time USAC Silver Crown Champion Kody Swanson was at Salem Speedway, Salem, Indiana working with Legacy Autosports on a possible ride at a future date. That date was Friday.
Swanson with only a handful of laps in an aero sensitive race car was not only able to drive quickly on the .686 mile LOR, he garnered the pole position. His experience at LOR was probably a huge influence despite the knees higher than backside, laying down seat position in the Pro 2000 car. The sprint car seating position is bolt upright with elbows flailing to the sides.
After a few laps, Swanson went to the front and led every lap of the Freedom 90. In Victory Circle after the race, Swanson’s voice broke as he thanked sponsors and team members who gave him his first opportunity to run that type of car.
Tanner Swanson’s turn
The next race at LOR was the USAC Silver Crown Carb Night Classic Dave Steele Memorial. The race is held the night of Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in memory of Dave Steele a multi-time USAC Silver Crown driver who was killed at a race in Florida March 25, 2017.
Kody Swanson was on the pole for the 31st time in his Silver Crown career with younger brother Tanner on the outside. The elder Swanson led the first 40 laps of the 100 lap race until a broken rear brake caliper had him wave Tanner by and into the lead which he never relinquished.
The victory by Tanner Swanson made him the all-time winningest Silver Crown driver at LOR. He had not won in four years having finished second in 2018-19. The domination is quite interesting since Tanner only races at LOR with the Bowman Racing/Brickers Pub team in their only appearance of the year. Swanson lives in Kingsburg, California and flies in for this family racing weekend.
“I had a great weekend all around,” said Tanner. “We benefited from Kody’s misfortune to be able to win the Crown race which was incredible. We were able to battle for the lead in the midget which is always fun and just a little off in the sprint car but all Top 5’s for a guy that only runs a couple times a year isn’t too shabby.”
He also secured a ride in the USAC Midget car race on Saturday finishing second behind Franklin, Massachusetts native Bobby Santos III. Tanner qualified on the outside pole beside Kody Swanson who once again sat on the pole. Kody had a flat tire in the midget race which he did not finish.
Santos III in the Seymour-West, Indy Performance Composites “The Spirit of Boston” midget was not to be denied. Santos held of the charging Tanner Swanson to win by 1.382 seconds. Kyle Hamilton was third.
Race four of the weekend for Kody Swanson nets $10,000
Race number two Saturday August 22 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana featured the Night Before The 500 USAC Sprint car race. I may sound like a broken record when I say that Kingsburg, California’s Kody Swanson made it four out of four pole positions for the weekend to that point. His brother tanner would be starting directly behind him in third.
Ken Schrader in his first sprint car start at LOR qualified fifth. His race did not last long after he and eighth place starter Nick Hamilton tangled on lap one in turn two. Both smacked the SAFER barrier putting them out of the race.
Kody Swanson lead all forty laps in the Nolen Racing sprint car equipped that evening with a Tranter Chevy V8 in place of the usual V6. The team wanted to make sure they had an abundance of power for the V8’s of their fellow competitors.
Still a bit disappointed from the Silver Crown loss the night before, the Nolen Racing team put Swanson up front and dedicated the win in memory of the late team owner Gene Nolen.
Race five for Kody Swanson ends in a tumble
The fifth race of the busy weekend for Kody Swanson was the resurrected USAC Silver Crown Hoosier 100 at the one mile dirt track at Indiana State Fairgrounds only a few miles from the Indy 500 which was won earlier in the day by Takuma Sato.
The 65th Annual running of the Hoosier 100 was possible only because the renovations to the track surface were not made due to COVID-19 complications dealing with construction. Since the track was available, the USAC team put together a Silver Crown race which attracted 35 entries including the red hot dirt track ace Kyle Larson.
Larson arrived at the Indiana track fresh from two World of Outlaws winged sprint car race wins in North Dakota. Friday saw an unbelievable 4 lap run for the win after getting knocked into the infield at River Cities Speedway and Saturday he won at Red River Valley Speedway.
Larson sat on the pole until he changed the right rear tire on his #19 machine. That relegated him to a 23rd place starting position which he quickly abandoned at the green flag as he vaulted forward to 4th in the first 10 laps.
On lap 9 Kody Swanson and David Byrne flipped on the back stretch and emerged unhurt but through for the night. Thus ended Kody Swanson’s remarkable weekend of racing, four pole positions, two wins, a top 10 and two DNFs.
Larson went on to win the Hoosier 100 with C.J. Leary second and Logan Seavey third.
New Denmark driver on podium for first time in 2020
Oxford 250 Predictions
As of Friday the Oxford 250 has 57 entries filed for the 47th Annual race. The fans will be limited in number, however, Speed51 is offering pay-for-view for $50 for the whole weekend which I suspect will result in hundreds of viewers.
Two Blokes at the Oxford 250, Gary Saucier makes his predictions
My analysis will be based on how particular drivers and teams have done so far in the 2020 PASS season and I will also give a fair amount of weight to how drivers have done at Oxford Plains, both in PASS races and in their weekly super late model division. I will have five drivers named here. Picks one through three are in order of who I think has the best chance to win (one being the best chance), and picks four and five are my dark horses for this year. Ready? Yeah, me either.