Showing posts with label USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series. Show all posts

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Swanson Signs With Nolen Racing For 2019 Silver Crown Run

Kody Swanson, the winningest driver in USAC Silver Crown history, will race for Nolen Racing during the 2019 season. (Photo Courtesy Dave Olson)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Whiteland, Indiana.........Four-time USAC Silver Crown champion Kody Swanson has signed with Nolen Racing to run the full 2019 USAC Silver Crown schedule.

Kingsburg, California's Swanson, who set the all-time Silver Crown wins record with his 24th victory last August at Salem (Ind.) Speedway, became a free agent following the closure of DePalma Motorsports earlier this week, whom he had raced for since the 2013 season and had accumulated 21 career wins with.

The Whiteland, Indiana-based Nolen Racing team has won 11 career Silver Crown races since the 1991 season with drivers Johnny Parsons, Jim Keeker, Tony Elliott, Shane Hollingsworth and Chris Windom. However, the team has yet to claim its first Silver Crown title. This past year, Nolen ran two cars full-time, finishing third and fifth in the series' standings with drivers Windom and Jerry Coons, Jr., respectively.

For 2019, the team will run one car on the Silver Crown trail for Swanson, who in 2018, raced a Gene Nolen-owned car to victory at the Payless Little 500, a grueling, 500-lap sprint car race at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway. The win was Swanson's second in the race and Nolen's first.

Swanson scored five wins in a row this past summer, setting a new mark for consecutive triumphs. Interestingly enough, Swanson's run was stopped by a Nolen Racing car, which was driven by Windom to two-straight wins on the Illinois miles in Springfield and Du Quoin.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

DePalma Motorsports Leaves On Top After 5 Straight Silver Crown Titles

DePalma Motorsports set a record in 2018 with their fifth-straight USAC Silver Crown owner's title with Kody Swanson as the driver. (Photo Courtesy Gene Crucean)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Lima, Ohio (October 9, 2018).........DePalma Motorsports, one of the most iconic and successful teams in the history of the USAC Silver Crown series, is riding into the sunset on top of their game, announcing that their 2018 championship season was the last for the Lima, Ohio-based team.

It concludes a magical five-year run with Kody Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif. DePalma Motorsports itself won the Silver Crown owner title each year they had Swanson as their full-time driver between 2014 and 2018. Swanson himself won Silver Crown driving titles in the DePalma No. 63 in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.

The accomplishment of five consecutive series titles set by the team had never been seen before in the series, snapping the series record for streaking (four) set by Bob East/Tony Stewart Racing between 2002 and 2005 as well as Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, which grabbed four in a row from 2010 to 2013.

Along the way, Swanson and the DePalmas rewrote the record book, one of which Silver Crown participants will be chasing for years and years. Regardless of dirt or pavement, the combo was always up front.

This past year, Swanson and the DePalmas won five-straight races, breaking Jack Hewitt's long-standing, 32-year-old record of four-straight Silver Crown wins set in 1986. The last of Swanson's five wins, at Indiana's Salem Speedway, was the ultimate. Kody drove to his 24th career victory in the Silver Crown Champ Car Series, overtaking the top spot on the all-time win list.

With all that said, the accolades and the broken records have put the DePalmas at the pinnacle of the sport, but it's the people of racing that car owner Tony DePalma is going to miss the most.

"I've met a lot of good people in this sport and built a lot of great relationships," DePalma said. "It's been a pleasure to know a lot of people in this sport and it's really one of the most rewarding things besides, obviously, winning races. It's been really neat to get to know Kody's family and friends over the last several years. It's also fun to get to know our competitors. Yeah, they're the people we competed against, but most of them I view as friends. That's the most rewarding thing."

DePalma returned to Silver Crown racing in 2002, inheriting his uncle Ralph's stable of race cars after his passing. DePalma owned cars had notable runs with driver Mike Brecht in the "4-Crown Nationals" at Eldora Speedway, turning in a 3rd in 2004 and a 2nd in 2006.

Following his father Jim's passing, the cars were mothballed so to speak before the family team returned in 2010, then hit the circuit full steam when they put Swanson full-time in the seat for the 2014 season and quickly found the magic touch that Tony's father and uncle used to claim the 1984 Silver Crown owner title with driver Dave Blaney.

The familiar sight of the No. 63 up front has been commonplace, and it will certainly be a change to see for those in the stands and those on the track, but also to the DePalma team.

"No doubt about it, we're going to miss it," DePalma admitted. "'We're going to miss the camaraderie, the anticipation and the anxiety of competing. We were always pretty stoked and focused, and it was a standing joke of 'hey, pass the bottle of antacid.' We were really uptight about each and every race, but that's part of the reason we did well is because we put so much into it."

The team put all they had into it and then some as they raised their game to exemplary heights. However, DePalma felt now was the right time to make the exit for a myriad of reasons.

"I saw my kids starting to miss things with their kids; that was one piece of it," DePalma began. "There are other things I want to pursue and have started to put into motion a little bit. I'm missing some of the things I shouldn't be missing. Long story short, what took me over the edge was, what a better exit point than this? We were going to have to exit at some point in time anyway. Maybe it's premature, but I've always believed, when I've looked at athletes in various sports, I've always scratched my head thinking 'why didn't you get out when you were on top?'"

As crazy as it seems now, Kody was still seen as primarily a "pavement specialist" at the time and was tabbed as the driver for the blacktop while he searched for rides on the dirt to prove himself as a capable shoe. He recorded a 2nd, 5th and another 2nd in the first three pavement outings for DePalma during that initial season together in 2013. For 2014, Kody was handed the keys to both the pavement and dirt rides and he hasn't missed a beat since, reeling off 21 wins together with the DePalmas, more than any other driver/team combination in the history of the series.

"These last five years and the relationships that my family and I have had with the DePalma family and this team have been career and life changing," Swanson said. "When we met, I may have been more at a breaking point than a crossroads in my career, and along with a few other key people, this family and race team gave me a chance to continue and an incredible opportunity to be part of something special. Over the years we were blessed to gel as a team, but developed further than that, and into a family of our own. Everyone that has been involved has gotten along together so well. We have developed relationships personally that treat each other like family, maybe even better in some cases, and has become a team that almost any and every other would pale in comparison to."

"I am extremely grateful to have raced and become friends with each and every member of this team, and for the sacrifices that each of them, and their families, have made as part of this team," Swanson continued. "It has been such a unique situation, and something not easily found in an entire team across any sport. Everyone involved gave it their all, without hesitation, and wanted to compete together for all the right reasons. We all wanted to do our best, and everyone put in all the effort they could to try to win races together. You simply can't ask for anything more than that in a team, and what we've been able to accomplish together has been incredible and something I am so thankful for my family and I to have been a part of."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Phoenix Copper Cup Race Preview

Photo Courtesy Al Steinburg

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Phoenix, Arizona.........With cold weather blanketing many parts of the U.S.A., the warm climes and picturesque scenes of Arizona are always a welcome sight for sore eyes, especially for the teams of the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series, which begin its 2018 season at the newly-renamed ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix International Raceway) this Friday and Saturday, April 6-7.

Practice and qualifying is set to take place on the one-mile tri-oval on Friday while the 100-mile finale is schedule for Saturday afternoon.

One year ago, it was Franklin, Massachusetts' Bobby Santos sweeping the pole and the race victory in his DJ Racing No. 22, becoming the first driver from the Northeast to capture a Silver Crown event at Phoenix in 23 runnings. In fact, 15 different winners have celebrated Silver Crown wins at Phoenix since the series' debut at the track in 1987. The only driver in this year's field who can claim that right is Santos.

Kingsburg, California's Kody Swanson finished second in last year's race following a late surge to the front. Phoenix remains elusive to the three-time series champ thus far. He's finished in the runner-up spot in his last two Phoenix Silver Crown outings in 2009 and 2017. He stands just four wins behind Jack Hewitt's Silver Crown record of 23 wins on the all-time list.

David Byrne of Shullsburg, Wisconsin led a race-high 69 laps during the 2017 contest. He aims to become the first driver from Wisconsin to win a USAC-sanctioned event at Phoenix since Stan Fox captured the Midget portion of the 1993 "Copper World Classic." The native Badger, Byrne's homeland of Wisconsin is one of seven states represented in the field alongside Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio and Indiana, which has a race-high six drivers in this year's race lineup.

The home state of Arizona is represented by USAC Sands Chevrolet Southwest Sprint Car veteran Brent Yarnal of Phoenix, who will make his series debut when he hits the track for practice this Friday. Tucson's USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr., who aims to make his 10th career Phoenix Silver Crown start this weekend, has 165 starts in the series, placing him fifth on the all-time rankings.

The only driver with more Silver Crown starts at Phoenix than Coons is Greenfield, Indiana's Eric Gordon who returns to the series after a six-year hiatus. The first of Gordon's 12 Phoenix starts came all the way back in 1990! His best finish in the "Valley of the Sun" came the following year in 1991 when he grabbed second-place honors behind winner Jeff Gordon, no relation.

Chris Windom, the 2016 Silver Crown champion, and Justin Grant had less-than-desirable conclusions in last year's "Phoenix Copper Cup." Windom, of Canton, Illinois, escaped serious injury after pounding the backstretch wall in Friday practice. He returned to the track the following day, jumping into the car of fellow driver Patrick Lawson, which he moved up steadily through the field before the car went up in smoke. Ione, California's Grant met a similar fate as Windom, ending his afternoon against the SAFER barrier between turns three and four.

Like Windom and Grant, Aaron Pierce of Muncie, Indiana is a Silver Crown race winner and is, in fact, the driver who recorded the fastest official lap in Silver Crown competition during the 2006 season with a lap speed of 175.012mph at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.

Hillsborough, California's Toni Breidinger is the lone female and the youngest driver in the field at age 18 as she returns to the spot where she made her series debut a year ago, finishing eighth. She is one of nine drivers from last year's starting field returning to competition for 2018, including Byrne, Coons, Grant, Pierce, Santos, Swanson, Windom and Clovis, California's A.J. Russell, who finished one spot behind Breidinger in ninth at the 2017 race.

Seven drivers are making their Phoenix Silver Crown debuts, including Yarnal, Cody Gerhardt of Fresno, California, Matt Goodnight of Winchester, Indiana, Kyle Hamilton of Danville, Indiana, Austin Nemire of Sylvania, Ohio, Kyle Robbins of New Castle, Indiana and Pendleton, Indiana's Travis Welpott.

Bill Rose, a two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car winner is the most "experienced" driver in the field at age 53 as he plans to make his first Phoenix Silver Crown start since a 24th place run in 1992!

Daily Schedule:
FRIDAY, APRIL 6: 10am: Silver Crown Drivers Meeting. 11-11:30am: Silver Crown to Pit Road. 11:30am-12:30pm: Silver Crown Practice #1. 12:45pm-1:15pm: Silver Crown Practice #2. 2:15-2:45pm: Silver Crown Autograph Session. 4:15pm: Silver Crown Qualifying.

SATURDAY, APRIL 7: 1pm: Silver Crown Drivers Meeting. 1:55-2:05pm: Silver Crown Shake Down. 2:05-2:15pm: Silver Crown to Pit Road. 3:15pm: "Phoenix Copper Cup" 100-mile Silver Crown Race.

Listen LIVE on the USAC app or following along on USAC's social media pages: USAC Racing on Facebook and @usacnation on Twitter and Instagram. Watch the full race on-demand within a day after the event is run at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

Entry List:
3 A.J. RUSSELL/Clovis, CA (Ted Finkenbinder)
6 KYLE HAMILTON/Danville, IN (Klatt Enterprises)
7 KYLE ROBBINS/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
17 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL (Gene Nolen Racing)
20 JERRY COONS, JR./Tucson, AZ (Gene Nolen Racing)
21 ERIC GORDON/Greenfield, IN (Armstrong Racing)
22 BOBBY SANTOS/Franklin, MA (DJ Racing)
26 AARON PIERCE/Muncie, IN (Sam Pierce)
29 BRENT YARNAL/Phoenix, AZ (Yarnal Racing)
39 MATT GOODNIGHT/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
40 DAVID BYRNE/Shullsburg, WI (Byrne Racing)
60 CODY GERHARDT/Fresno, CA (Cody Gerhardt)
63 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (DePalma Motorsports)
66 BILL ROSE/Plainfield, IN (Bill Rose Racing)
80 TONI BREIDINGER/Hillsborough, CA (Breidinger Motorsports)
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
118 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Balanced Pavement/Dirt Mix The Ingredient For 2018 USAC Silver Crown Schedule

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Indianapolis, Indiana.........A helping of six pavement and five dirt races make up a balanced USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series schedule for the 2018 season, which marks the series' return to the state of Wisconsin for the first time since 2011.

The Silver Crown cars will make their debut appearance on the half-mile, paved Madison International Speedway on June 29 for the "Cheesemakers 100." While it's the big cars' first go at the Oregon, Wisconsin joint, USAC's National Sprint and Midget series did make a visit to the track in 1997 when Dave Steele (Sprint) and Jimmy McCune (Midget) captured their respective ends of the doubleheader. Bobby East won Silver Crown's last race in the Badger State at the Milwaukee Mile six years ago.

Madison is the lone addition to a schedule that features the most pavement races on the series' card since 2007. Of those six paved races, the largest in terms of size on the schedule is the season-opening "Phoenix Copper Cup" April 7 on Arizona's one-mile ISM Raceway (formerly known as Phoenix International Raceway). May brings two more to the hardtop on the 4th at Ohio's Toledo Speedway for the "Rollie Beale Classic" and to Brownsburg, Indiana and Lucas Oil Raceway for the "Carb Night Classic" on the 25th. The prestigious "Joe James-Pat O'Connor Memorial," a race with origins that date to 1953, is back on the high banks of Salem (Ind.) Speedway on August 11. Lucas Oil Raceway's "Rich Vogler Classic" closes out the pavement set of the season on September 8.

The dirt schedule is solidified with a lineup of some of the most legendary and historic racetracks in the sport. The "Sumar Classic" comes to the half-mile Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track on April 29. The 63rd running of the "Hoosier Hundred" on May 24 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds precedes the following night's pavement stop at Lucas Oil Raceway, marking just the fifth occurrence of dirt and pavement Silver Crown races taking place within a 24-hour span.

Deep fried corn dogs and elephant ears signal the State Fair season to some, but to race fans, it means Silver Crown racing on two of the most-storied one-mile dirt ovals in the history of auto racing. First up is the "Bettenhausen 100" at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield where racing's daredevils have competed for over a century. Two weeks later, on Labor Day weekend September 2, the call of the "Magic Mile" beckons for the "Ted Horn 100" on the scenic Du Quoin State Fairgrounds mile.

On 14 occasions, Ohio's Eldora Speedway has served in its role as the Silver Crown season-ender. The 2018 season will carry on that tradition with the 37th running of the "4-Crown Nationals" on September 22, which provides the only opportunity for fans to witness all three of USAC's national divisions, plus the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions, at one event.

Apr 7: **(P) ISM Raceway (Phoenix, AZ)
Apr 29: (D) Terre Haute Action Track (Terre Haute, IN)
May 4: (P) Toledo Speedway (Toledo, OH)
May 24: (D) Indiana State Fairgrounds (Indianapolis, IN)
May 25: (P) Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (Brownsburg, IN)
Jun 29: (P) Madison International Speedway (Oregon, WI)
Aug 11: (P) Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery (Salem, IN)
Aug 18: **(D) Illinois State Fairgrounds (Springfield, IL)
Sep 2: (D) Du Quoin State Fairgrounds (Du Quoin, IL)
Sep 8: (P) Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (Brownsburg, IN)
Sep 22: (D) Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
** represents a daytime event.
(D) represents an event at a dirt track.
(P) represents an event at a pavement track.