Open the Gates! USAC Silver Crown Season Fires Off Saturday in Toledo

The new USAC Silver Crown season brings new life, new machinery, new driver/team combinations and a breath of fresh air spiked with methanol. Just the way we like it.

With 23 entries set for this Saturday’s 11th running of the Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic Fueled by Marco’s Pizza on April 20 at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway, it’s what we’ve waited these past six months for.

While we’ve waited patiently since last October, the half-mile of Ohio’s Toledo Speedway has been lying in wait just the same, ready to spring into action the only way we know how – for 100 laps at more than 120 miles per hour.

Here’s eight storylines to watch coming up this weekend at Toledo!


With inspiration from Creedence Clearwater Revival, the first thought that comes to mind is, “And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the reign (of Kody Swanson)?”

Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) has raced to seven overall USAC Silver Crown victories at Toledo in 2011-15-18-19-21-22-23. That number is just one shy of the most victories by any driver at a single track in USAC Silver Crown history. Jack Hewitt owns eight victories at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway while Kody’s brother, Tanner Swanson, has scored eight at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Kody’s current run of five consecutive Silver Crown wins at Toledo also has him on the verge of another record. He currently stands in a three-way tie for the lead in that particular department. Dave Steele won five-in-a-row at the Phoenix International Raceway from 2002-06 while Kody also won five-straight at Salem Speedway between 2016-20.

As the owner of seven poles and seven victories in Silver Crown competition at Toledo, Swanson is the winningest USAC driver in the history of the track. He’s also the only driver to have started all 10 previous USAC Silver Crown events contested at Toledo dating back to 2010 and has now led 678 of the 1,100 total laps ever run in Silver Crown competition at Toledo for a percentage of 61.6%.

The seven-time USAC Silver Crown champion, however, is returning from a broken left foot suffered in the offseason. A victory on Saturday in just his second race back from injury would undoubtedly be one of the most special of his career.


C.J. Leary seemingly has a score to settle after a magnificent run during his most recent outing at Toledo in 2023.

That day, Leary took over the lead from Kody Swanson on lap two and proceeded to lead a race-high 77 laps in succession. The hellacious battle between the two came to a head on lap 78 when Swanson was able to get a nose under Leary’s car in turns three and four to take command.

The runner-up result proved to be Leary’s best finish of the 2023 season. Now the Greenfield, Ind. racer possesses the hunger to revisit USAC Silver Crown victory lane for the first time since June of 2022 at Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway, 18 races ago. That night also served as the lone pavement victory of his USAC career.


When it comes to USAC Silver Crown season openers on pavement, no driver has won more often than Bobby Santos. Santos has captured the pavement opener on six occasions in his career in 2012-13-17-18-22-23, including each of the last two years.

Back in 2017, Santos (Franklin, Mass.) raced around Kody Swanson just before the midway point to score one in the win column for himself and the DJ Racing team at Toledo Speedway. He’s also the only driver to win at Toledo in a USAC Sprint, Midget and Silver Crown car in his career in addition to collecting a King of the Wing Sprint Car victory there in 2017.

In six of his eight career Silver Crown starts at Toledo, Santos has placed on the podium, and he’s also taken the runner-up position four times in 2018-19-21-22.


Speaking of former Toledo Speedway winners such as Kody Swanson and Bobby Santos, there’s also another former winner who’s making a rare pavement start of late. That’s 2008 USAC Silver Crown champion Jerry Coons Jr.

In fact, all 10 past Silver Crown wins at Toledo Speedway will be represented in the field between Swanson’s seven, Santos’ one and Coons’ two, which came in the inaugural champ car event at the track in 2010 before scoring again in 2012, a race in which his 100-lap track record of 27:07.40 still stands.

Coons (Tucson, Ariz.) has only made one pavement Silver Crown start dating back to 2019, but this weekend, the veteran of 184 career series starts (4th all-time) will take the reins of John Haggenbottom’s No. 24 at Toledo.


Logan Seavey has a second consecutive USAC Silver Crown championship on his mind coming into Toledo after basking in the glow of his 2023 series title with Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing. After two years of doing the chasing, now the shoe is on the other foot with everybody attempting to hunt Seavey down.

The Sutter, California racer’s defense begins on the pavement of Toledo where he’s held serve by finishing fourth and fifth over the past two seasons in 2022-23, respectively. Although all eight of his Silver Crown wins thus far have come on dirt, arguably, you could say that he won the championship by virtue of his pavement performances.

Seavey finished as high as second on the pavement at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 2023. Now, after making continuous strides over the past few seasons, Seavey and the team are prepared to stride all the way to the top of the pylon as a first-time pavement winner.


Can anyone break into the Swanson-Coons-Santos triumvirate on Saturday? There are more than a few who’ve had solid showings in the past and could very well edge their way to the front of the field.

Aside from the aforementioned Leary and Seavey, 2020 Silver Crown champ Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) has previously captured the pole at Toledo in 2018 and grabbed a best of third in 2022 along with a fourth in 2019 and 2023. Derek Bischak (Angola, Ind.) was a beast in his podium run a year ago at Toledo when he equaled his career-best of third.

Meanwhile, Davey Hamilton Jr. (Boise, Idaho) charged from 14th to fifth in 2021 and also became a first-time winner with the series in 2023. Six-time Silver Crown victor Russ Gamester (Peru, Ind.) had a fine run to fifth during the 2022 race at Toledo.

Also securing top-10 Silver Crown finishes over the years at Toledo are Goodyear, Arizona’s Nathan Byrd (6th in 2021), Muskogee, Oklahoma’s Kaylee Bryson (6th in 2023), Auburn, Illinois’ Mario Clouser (7th in 2023), Shelby Township, Michigan’s Taylor Ferns (8th in 2023), Pendleton, Indiana’s Travis Welpott (9th in 2019) and New Castle, Indiana’s Dakoda Armstrong (10th in 2023), all of whom are seeking their first career Silver Crown wins this Saturday.


New combos and new drivers will also find themselves in the mix on Saturday at Toledo. Legacy Autosport is providing three cars for Davey Hamilton Jr., Nathan Byrd and Trey Burke (Alvin, Texas). Burke’s ride is teamed in conjunction with Robert Wilson Racing. Hamilton and Burke will be chasing the full series schedule for their respective teams.

Two-time Little 500 winner Tyler Roahrig (Plymouth, Ind.) has been spectacular in limited Silver Crown starts, finishing on the podium in four of his six career appearances! This year, he’ll tackle the pavement for Washington’s Michael Newman.

Three Silver Crown Rookies will be on hand at Toledo, all of whom are making their Toledo Speedway debuts with the Silver Crown series: Columbus, Ohio’s Trey Osborne (BCR Group), Kaufman, Texas’ Nathan Moore (Chip Thomas) and Cincinnati, Ohio’s Jackson Macenko (Brad Hayes Racing-Nick Bohanon Racing).

They’ll join a group of series veterans returning to their familiar rides: Saint Charles, Missouri’s Kyle Steffens (Steffens Motorsports), Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania’s Dave Berkheimer (Berkheimer Racing) and Shelbyville, Indiana’s Gregg Cory (Williams Racing), the 2022 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year.


Saturday’s event marks the 51st USAC National racing event held in the city of Toledo, Ohio since the Stock Cars made their debut at the nearby Toledo Raceway Park in 1956, won by the aptly named Bud Moneymaker. USAC made its first visit to the new Toledo Speedway with the sprint cars in 1969, won by Bruce Walkup.

The event also honors legendary Toledo native, 1973 USAC Sprint Car champion driver and longtime USAC official Rollie Beale. Beale scored 32 race victories during his illustrious career and was one of the most respected drivers in USAC history. He retired in 1977 and joined the USAC officiating crew, eventually becoming chief steward for both the Silver Crown and National Sprint Car series for many years.

In 1991, Beale was awarded USAC’s Ross Hadley award for dedication to the sport. He was also enshrined in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1996 and captured a monumental victory in the Little 500 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway in 1966. He passed away at the age of 84 in February of 2014.


An open practice session will be held at Toledo Speedway on Friday, April 19. Pits open at 2pm Eastern with practice on track from 4-8pm. The first hour will consist of USAC Silver Crown practice only. Pit passes are $20 and rigs can stay parked in the pits overnight.

Saturday’s Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic Fueled by Marco’s Pizza race day features the USAC Silver Crown National Championship plus the ARCA Salenbien Excavating Late Model Sportsman & the Safety Kleen ARCA Factory Stocks.

The USAC pit gate opens at 10am Eastern when rigs can begin parking on parking pads 1-30. The track ticket office and spectator gates open at 12:30pm. USAC Silver Crown practice will take place from 12:30-1:15pm. USAC Silver Crown Qualifying begins at 1:45pm. Parade laps for the vintage cars are set for 2:35pm. Pre-race ceremonies will commence at 2:50pm. Racing action starts at 3pm followed by driver introductions and the Rollie Beale Classic 100-lap feature.

General admission tickets are $25 apiece. Kids age 6-12 are $5. Ages 5 & under are free. Add $1 per ticket for advance online ticket purchases at

Tickets are $25, kids 6-12 are $5, while ages 5 and under are free. Add $1 per ticket for online ticket purchases at Online ticket sales end at 9pm Eastern on Friday, August 4.



08 KYLE STEFFENS/St. Charles, MO (Gordon Steffens)

5 DAKODA ARMSTRONG/New Castle, IN (C & A Motorsports)

6 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Klatt Enterprises)

18 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)

19 DAVEY HAMILTON JR./Boise, ID (Legacy Autosport)

22 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing)

24 JERRY COONS JR./Tucson, AZ (John Haggenbottom)

26 KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Sam Pierce)

31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)

32 GREGG CORY/Shelbyville, IN (Williams Racing)

40 NATHAN BYRD/Goodyear, AZ (Legacy Autosport)

41 TYLER ROAHRIG/Plymouth, IN (Michael Newman)

48 (R) NATHAN MOORE/Kaufman, TX (Chip Thomas)

51 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (Gamester Racing)

60 TREY BURKE/Alvin, TX (Robert Wilson Racing)

77 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Doran-Binks Racing)

81 (R) TREY OSBORNE/Columbus, OH (BCR Group)

91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)

92 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Kazmark Motorsports)

98 BOBBY SANTOS/Franklin, MA (DJ Racing)

124 (R) JACKSON MACENKO/Cincinnati, OH (Brad Hayes Racing-Nick Bohanon Racing)

131 DEREK BISCHAK/Angola, IN (Derek Bischak)

555 TAYLOR FERNS/Shelby Township, MI (Taylor Ferns Racing)

(R) represents a USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contender


1 Lap – 10/15/2011 – Kody Swanson – 14.809 – 121.548 mph

100 Laps – 6/29/2012 – Jerry Coons Jr. – 27:07.40 – 110.606 mph


7-Kody Swanson

2-Jerry Coons Jr.

1-Bobby Santos


2010: Jerry Coons Jr. (10/16)

2011: Kody Swanson (10/15)

2012: Jerry Coons Jr. (6/29)

2015: Kody Swanson (5/1)

2017: Bobby Santos (7/28)

2018: Kody Swanson (5/4)

2019: Kody Swanson (4/28)

2021: Kody Swanson (10/10)

2022: Kody Swanson (8/6)

2023: Kody Swanson (8/5)


2010 FEATURE: (150 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Jerry Coons Jr. (1), 2. Kody Swanson (5), 3. Bobby East (6), 4. Bryan Clauson (10), 5. A.J. Fike (8), 6. Brian Tyler (11), 7. Levi Jones (4), 8. Bud Kaeding (3), 9. Justin Carver (15), 10. Zach Daum (14), 11. Dave Darland (19), 12. Russ Gamester (12), 13. Derek Hagar (18), 14. Zach Martini (20), 15. Tanner Swanson (9), 16. Tracy Hines (7), 17. Shane Hollingsworth (13), 18. Jeff Swindell (16), 19. Troy DeCaire (17), 20. Jacob Wilson (2). NT

2011 FEATURE: (150 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bryan Clauson (6), 3. Bobby East (3), 4. Jerry Coons Jr. (2), 5. Darren Hagen (7), 6. Brian Tyler (10), 7. Levi Jones (11), 8. Kyle Hamilton (12), 9. Shane Hollingsworth (13), 10. Eric Gordon (4), 11. Tracy Hines (9), 12. David Byrne (14), 13. Kyle Larson (15), 14. Derek Hagar (16), 15. A.J. Fike (18), 16. Russ Gamester (8), 17. Jimmy Kite (19), 18. Tanner Swanson (5), 19. Doug Berryman (17). 45:54.90

2012 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Jerry Coons Jr. (8), 2. Bobby East (1), 3. Bobby Santos (3), 4. Kody Swanson (2), 5. Tracy Hines (4), 6. Kyle Hamilton (5), 7. Tanner Swanson (6), 8. A.J. Fike (10), 9. Levi Jones (14), 10. Jacob Wilson (11), 11. Bud Kaeding (9), 12. Eric Gordon (13), 13. Brian Tyler (12), 14. Doug Berryman (15), 15. Taylor Ferns (7). 27:07.40

2015 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Jacob Wilson (3), 3. A.J. Fike (17), 4. Jerry Coons Jr. (7), 5. Aaron Pierce (5), 6. David Byrne (16), 7. Austin Nemire (15), 8. Dave Baumgartner (11), 9. Tracy Hines (4), 10. Rex Norris III (10), 11. C.J. Leary (13), 12. Tim Barber (14), 13. Jarett Andretti (9), 14. Jimmy McCune (12), 15. Tanner Swanson (2), 16. Bobby Santos (8), 17. Kyle Hamilton (6), 18. Patrick Lawson (18). NT

2017 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Bobby Santos (2), 2. Kody Swanson (1), 3. Chris Windom (4), 4. Jerry Coons Jr. (6), 5. Joe Liguori (8), 6. Davey Hamilton (9), 7. Joe Axsom (11), 8. David Byrne (5), 9. Annie Breidinger (12), 10. Justin Grant (7), 11. Troy Thompson (14), 12. Aaron Pierce (3), 13. Joss Moffatt (15), 14. Damion Gardner (10), 15. Matt Goodnight (13). 28:48.17

2018 FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Kody Swanson (9), 2. Bobby Santos (4), 3. David Byrne (7), 4. Eric Gordon (16), 5. Aaron Pierce (6), 6. Austin Nemire (8), 7. Cody Gerhardt (15), 8. Matt Goodnight (10), 9. Travis Welpott (11), 10. Justin Grant (1), 11. Kyle Robbins (12, 12. Toni Breidinger (14), 13. Jerry Coons Jr. (2), 14. Kyle Hamilton (3), 15. Chris Windom (5), 16. Dave Darland (13). NT

2019 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bobby Santos (11), 3. Aaron Pierce (3), 4. Justin Grant (6), 5. Chris Windom (10), 6. Kyle Hamilton (2), 7. Austin Nemire (20), 8. Derek Bischak (12), 9. Joey Schmidt (13), 10. Brian Gerster (19), 11. Russ Gamester (16), 12. Mike Haggenbottom (22), 13. Cody Gerhardt (21), 14. Kyle Robbins (17), 15. Cody Gallogly (18), 16. Chris Dyson (14), 17. Matt Goodnight (15), 18. Eric Gordon (4), 19. David Byrne (7), 20. Jason Conn (9), 21. C.J. Leary (5), 22. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (8). NT

2021 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bobby Santos (4), 3. Brian Tyler (7), 4. David Byrne (3), 5. Davey Hamilton Jr. (14), 6. Nathan Byrd (10), 7. Kyle O’Gara (6), 8. Austin Nemire (15), 9. Taylor Ferns (5), 10. Logan Seavey (12), 11. Mike Haggenbottom (19), 12. Jake Day (21), 13. Tyler Roahrig (8), 14. Annie Breidinger (20), 15. Russ Gamester (11), 16. Mike McVetta (17), 17. Justin Grant (2), 18. Jim Anderson (13), 19. Travis Welpott (18), 20. Aaron Pierce (16), 21. Kyle Robbins (9), 22. Dave Berkheimer (22). NT

2022 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bobby Santos (4), 3. Justin Grant (3), 4. Logan Seavey (5), 5. Russ Gamester (7), 6. Derek Bischak (19), 7. Kyle Robbins (6), 8. Brian Tyler (10), 9. Mario Clouser (9), 10. Nick Hamilton (8), 11. C.J. Leary (20), 12. Mike McVetta (11), 13. Kaylee Bryson (15), 14. Kyle O’Gara (12), 15. Mike Haggenbottom (17), 16. Gregg Cory (16), 17. Taylor Ferns (2), 18. Travis Welpott (14), 19. Jake Day (21), 20. Austin Nemire (13), 21. Tom Paterson (18), 22. Dave Berkheimer (22). 1:05:57.617

2023 FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. C.J. Leary (2), 3. Derek Bischak (5), 4. Justin Grant (3), 5. Logan Seavey (7), 6. Kaylee Bryson (10), 7. Mario Clouser (9), 8. Taylor Ferns (17), 9. Russ Gamester (8), 10. Dakoda Armstrong (6), 11. Bobby Santos (20), 12. Billy Wease (11), 13. Kyle Robbins (14), 14. Kyle O’Gara (12), 15. Matt Westfall (15), 16. Nathan Byrd (13), 17. Trey Burke (18), 18. Mike McVetta (19), 19. Travis Welpott (16), 20. Davey Hamilton Jr. (4), 21. Tom Paterson (22), 22. Dave Berkheimer (21). 28:35.61