Kody Swanson etched his name in the record books as a two-time “Hoosier Hundred” winner on Thursday night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, as he distanced himself from the field over the final laps to earn his tenth career Silver Crown Series victory, tying him for ninth on the all-time list with Mike Bliss and Gary Bettenhausen.
Swanson started from the pole after taking the ProSource “Fast Time Award,” but a first-corner tangle slowed the initial start of the race, and A.J. Fike claimed the lead as the race finally hit a green-flag run. C.J. Leary went with him early as Swanson held down the third spot. He was looking for second on lap eleven when fourth-running Tracy Hines slowed to a stop on the backstretch, bringing out a yellow.
After the restart, Swanson went after Leary, taking the second spot on lap 22 and chopping into Fike’s lead. Shane Cockrum was also quick early, as he battled for third with Leary. Meanwhile, Brian Tyler was on the move from the tail of the field after taking over Randy Bateman’s ride for the feature when his original mount experienced engine issues. Tyler ran from 27th up to the top-ten by lap 40.
Just after that, the third caution of the night appeared. The race hit halfway with Fike and Swanson building a lead over Cockrum and Jerry Coons, Jr., who had disposed of Leary for the fourth spot. Steve Buckwalter was also on the move, as he had driven up to sixth after starting 16th. Tyler found himself in seventh on the yellow.
A few laps later, Buckwalter’s night ended as he broke and met the turn-two concrete, flipping over and necessitating a red-flag period. Under red, both Leary and Dave Darland changed right-rear tires, costing them a one-lap penalty.
Swanson pressured Fike hard on the restart, but Fike was able to hold him off on lap 55. Behind them, Tyler was inside the top-five and passed Coons for the fourth spot.
Just as they completed lap 67, Swanson had a big run to the outside of Fike down the front-stretch, outracing him into the corner for the lead on lap 68. Tyler moved to third and began to run down Fike as the race hit the lap-75 mark. A caution on lap 84 set up an 11-lap race to the finish, and Swanson drew away from the field. Tyler jumped to the inside of Fike on lap 96 and made a daring move to take second. But Aaron Pierce was coming with him, and he wrestled the runner-up spot away from Tyler on the next lap.
With two laps to go, tenth-running race rookie Tyler Courtney lost a right-rear tire down the backstretch and brought out a final caution, setting up a two-lap race to the checkers. Swanson would not be threatened, however, and he motored to a 2.044-second victory over the final two laps in the DePalma Motorsports – Radio Hospital #63 Maxim/Hampshire.
“I’m not a ‘statement’ kinda guy, but we answered some questions from others and from ourselves tonight. After last year, it was hard to know what this year would be like, especially with the tire change. Nobody had a year like last year since Hewitt in 1986, and I’m no Jack Hewitt. To find out that we can get it done again this year, it’s exciting to me, and to win it a second time is just hard to believe. Every time we show up, I feel like we’ve got a shot to win, and it makes it a lot of fun. They worked really hard from last night when they were still assembling the engine – Bob Hampshire and Clark Lamme pulled an all-nighter and prepared a car capable of winning the Hoosier Hundred, which just sums up how incredible this DePalma family and team is,” Swanson said.
Pierce completed his best ever “Hoosier Hundred” run, coming home second in the Sam Pierce Chevrolet – G&G Oil #26 Beast/Chevy.
“It’s the best I’ve ever done here and the best I’ve ever done on the dirt, and it was a lot of fun. We are usually on the loose side of things in these dirt races, and we either burn the tire off or get into trouble. We kept it tight enough tonight and knew we’d be solid if we could keep the right-front tire on it. I probably used it up once I got to second and tried to catch Kody. I thought we were in pretty good shape catching the last caution, but there just wasn’t enough left. I’m glad to see such a good field, and it’s great that some guys are coming back,” Pierce said.
Tyler’s magical run ended on the podium as he picked up the B&W Auto Mart “Hard Charger Award” in the Randy & Patty Bateman – Chance’s Chassis Repair #55 Beast/Chevy.
“I’ve known Randy and them for a long time, and I knew they had a good car that wouldn’t fall apart. It takes a couple laps to get a feel for the brakes, steering, and all that. I had to learn what I had, and I figured we could make our way up through there pretty decent. We get up through there, and get to second, and I think, ‘Ya know, we might get this done.’ I gotta say, it was a lot of fun to run up through there. There were a bunch of good racers here tonight, and it ended up being a good race, too,” Tyler said.
Fike came home in the fourth spot aboard the RFMS Racing – Liberty Village #3 Beast/Foxco, while Justin Grant rounded out the top-five after starting 19th in his first outing with the Chris Carli Motorsports – Finish Line Racing Equipment #8 Beast/Chevy.
USAC SILVER CROWN RACE RESULTS: May 21, 2015 – Indianapolis, Indiana – Indiana State Fairgrounds – ”Hoosier Hundred”
QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-33.223; 2. Shane Cottle, 81, Williams-33.597; 3. A.J. Fike, 3, RFMS-33.816; 4. Tracy Hines, 98, RPM/Gormly-33.857; 5. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary/6R-33.944; 6. Jerry Coons Jr., 20, Nolen-34.260; 7. Shane Cockrum, 71, Hardy-34.399; 8. Dave Darland, 19, Longworth-34.488; 9. Russ Gamester, 51, Gamester-34.503; 10. Jacob Wilson, 07, Wilson-34.504; 11. Brady Bacon, 48, Martens-34.537; 12. Austin Nemire, 91, Hemelgarn-34.558; 13. Steven Russell, 14, McQuinn-34.630; 14. Patrick Lawson, 2, Lawson-34.721; 15. Rickey Hood, 56, Foxco-34.847; 16. Steve Buckwalter, 53, SET-34.853; 17. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-34.860; 18. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-34.876; 19. Justin Grant, 8, Carli-35.039; 20. Tyler Courtney, 153, Courtney-35.097; 21. Levi Jones, 57, Rogers-35.230; 22. Davey Ray, 25, Sachs-35.583; 23. Chris Fetter, 88, Fetter-35.923; 24. Randy Bateman, 55, Bateman-36.109; 25. Tad Roach, 84, Spivey-36.138; 26. Rex Norris III, 16, Norris-36.738; 27. Terry James, 23, Satterthwaite-39.503; 28. Kenny Gentry, 18, Gentry-NT; 29. Brian Tyler, 7, Classy Chassy-NT.
FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Kody Swanson, 2. Aaron Pierce, 3. Brian Tyler (#55), 4. A.J. FIke, 5. Justin Grant, 6. Shane Cockrum, 7. Rickey Hood, 8. Patrick Lawson, 9. Jacob Wilson, 10. Brady Bacon, 11. Dave Darland, 12. C.J. Leary, 13. Tyler Courtney, 14. Jerry Coons Jr., 15. Rex Norris III, 16. David Byrne, 17. Steve Buckwalter, 18. Steven Russell, 19. Terry James, 20. Russ Gamester, 21. Levi Jones, 22. Austin Nemire, 23. Shane Cottle, 24. Davey Ray, 25. Tracy Hines, 26. Chris Fetter, 27. Tad Roach. NT
**Buckwalter flipped on lap 55.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-67 Fike, Laps 68-100 Swanson.
NEW USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Swanson-129, 2-Fike-108, 3-Pierce-105, 4-Wilson-93, 5-Coons-76, 6-Byrne-66, 7-Leary-60, 8-Lawson-56, 9-Norris-56, 10-Tyler-54.
NEXT SILVER CROWN SERIES RACE: May 23 – Brownsburg, IN – Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis – “Day Before the 500″
– USAC press release & photo credit