Kody Swanson will pilot the “Balboa” car at Eldora Speedway in the Camping World SRX Series Saturday.
The California native wasn’t expecting to get the call from Ray Evernham inviting him to compete with the series. When he saw that the call was from a Charlotte-area number, he knew had to pick up the phone on that one.
“It was shocking, it was a random Tuesday and I had a call from a 704 area code that I didn’t recognize. I thought I should probably take this one. It was neat to have him call, I had no idea that I could be getting the call about it,” Swanson said. “It really caught me off guard but it’s really cool to be a part of it.”
Swanson admittedly wasn’t expecting to be invited to the race at Eldora, considering his past experience at the Ohio half-mile. In 26 previous starts, he has yet to win at Eldora. His best finish at the track is second, coming twice on the same night in 2015 with both the USAC National Sprints and Silver Crown.
When he first brought up Eldora I thought he was pulling my leg because I knew that Lucas Oil Raceway was on the schedule and with the success we’ve been fortunate to have there, I thought he was calling about that one. He said he had somebody lined up for that one, which turns out to probably be Bobby Santos all along. He’s proven to be the top guy there.
“To do it at Eldora and the inclusion of the Silver Crown series to be on the undercard and be a Silver Crown guy, I had to admit that it was probably one of my worst Silver Crown tracks. It’s really neat to be included and hopefully I can improve there this weekend.”
Grassroots racers got off to a big start at the SRX opener at Stafford Motor Speedway with Doug Coby’s win over the series’ all-stars. Muiti-time Knoxville Raceway track champion Brian Brown finished eighth in last week’s main event in Iowa.
This weekend’s SRX race is different in that Eldora is not an established “home track” for Swanson. He hopes he can use the Late Model experience he has gained this season to help him get acclimated to the SRX car this weekend.
“It’s really neat to be included for sure and with the job that Doug did at Stafford, he set the bar at the top. And to see how well Brian (Brown) did and how well Hailie (Deegan) did it was really impressive. I’ve been to Eldora before but never in a car quite like this. I’m thankful to have a little Late Model experience this year and maybe that will make me more comfortable sitting in a car like that.”
It’s a really different experience depending on the car. I’m excited to go there with the SRX car and see how it drives differently. One of the things I’ve been trying to get my head wrapped around is if it’s the track experience or the race car experience.”
In the meantime, he has watched both SRX broadcasts at Stafford and Knoxville to get ready for when he gets his turn this weekend at Eldora.
I’ve watched both broadcasts on CBS and not only have I been enjoying the broadcasts, I’ve been trying to watch the drivers and cars and see what’s working. Something I’ve noticed is Doug Coby has a lot of laps at Stafford, and Brian Brown at Knoxville. They have more experience at their tracks than I do at Eldora. With the Silver Crown Series, we run there once a year so I’ve probably only ran there six or seven times.
While he has yet to win at Eldora in an open-wheel car, he is hopeful he can get over that hump and take his first win at the track when SRX comes to town.
“I’ve been to Eldora a few times and have enjoyed some success and celebrated a few championships there before, but I have never gotten that feature victory. If I beat Tony at his own place, that would be really great.”
The Camping World SRX Series season continues Saturday at Eldora Speedway at 8 p.m. ET, televised on the CBS Television Network and streamed on Paramount+. Joining Swanson will be an all-star cast of drivers including Helio Castroneves, Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Willy T. Ribbs, Ernie Francis, Jr., Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Scott Bloomquist.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo