Swanson Dominates Rich Vogler Classic at Winchester

Doran Binks Racing and driver Kody Swanson made Cinco de Mayo memorable Sunday afternoon at Winchester Speedway when they topped the charts in every conceivable way with their USAC Silver Crown car sponsored by Mission Foods, the leading tortilla company in the United States.

After extending his record as the driver with the most poles in series history to 49, Swanson led all 100 laps of Sunday’s 33rd annual Rich Vogler Classic to post a whopping 5.554-second victory over Bobby Santos III. Swanson, a seven-time USAC Silver Crown champion, also extended his record as the driver with the most victories in series history to 42.

It was Swanson’s third straight USAC Silver Crown victory at Winchester. He has now won the Rich Vogler Classic five times (2016, 2019, 2022, 2023 and 2024; this Silver Crown event was held elsewhere prior to 2021.)

Before Swanson’s achievement on Sunday, Ryan Newman was the most recent driver to win three straight USAC races at Winchester (one sprint and two midget wins in 1999). Newman, the winner of the 2008 Daytona 500, also won the NAMARS-sanctioned sprint and midget portion of the Vogler Classic at Winchester in 2000.

Sunday’s victory marked the second year in a row in which Swanson, a native of Kingsburg, Calif., who now lives in Indianapolis, led this entire race.

He also led all 100 laps of the season opener last month in Toledo, Ohio with the Lebanon, Ohio-based team’s No. 77, which is also sponsored by Glenn Farms and Wilke Orthodontics and is powered by a Lanci-prepped Ford engine.

After setting the fastest time in practice with a 14.729-second lap for the half-mile asphalt oval with 37-degree high-banked turns, Swanson captured the Honest Abe Roofing pole with a time of 14.665 seconds, averaging 122.741 miles per hour. In his four career USAC Silver Crown starts at Winchester, he has been the fastest qualifier each time.

He then made it look easy in winning the race, although his race was not without challenges.

In the very early going he was able to keep the lead even though four drivers behind him were running faster. He held off fellow front-row starter Dakoda Armstrong lap after lap while trying his best to save his equipment, especially his tires, so he had something for his rivals at the end. He didn’t top the “fastest race lap” category until lap 26.

As is required to win long races, he also explored different lines throughout the event as his fuel load got lighter, and carefully picked his way around lapped traffic.

Three times he saw any advantage he’d built up disappear due to caution flags, as the field accordioned up behind him for the restarts.

And near the end of the race he had to check up to avoid getting involved in a wreck when two drivers that he was lapping made contact with each other between Turns 1 and 2 while they were battling for position higher up on the track as he was passing them on the inside.

The first caution flew on lap 16 when a mechanical issue with Travis Welpott’s car put it into the wall between Turns 3 and 4. The car sustained front-end damage but Welpott, who had been running 12th, was unhurt. That wiped out Swanson’s 0.690-second lead over Armstrong for the restart on lap 24.

The interval remained under a second until about lap 35, when Swanson had a 1.024-second advantage. He was able to keep his rivals about 1 second behind him through lap 50, when his advantage was 1.665 seconds, but that disappeared on lap 51 when the second yellow waved after Kyle Steffens stopped in Turn 4 while running 13th and there was debris on the backstretch. Fourteen of the original 22 starters were still running at the halfway point.

Towards the end of that caution period the driver who was sixth, Justin Grant, noticed that Armstrong’s car was missing a nut on its left-rear tire. Grant was able to alert the officials and they brought Armstrong in for consultation, ending his drive but also avoiding an accident.

That put Santos right behind Swanson for the restart on lap 60, and Santos chased him the rest of the way before finishing second for the second year in a row.

Swanson was able to pad his lead to over a second by lap 64, and to over 2 seconds by lap 69. His 2.865-second lead disappeared when the third and final caution waved on lap 71, however, when the left-front tire shredded on Kaylee Bryson’s car while she was running eighth.

The green waved again on lap 74 and Swanson once again worked on rebuilding his lead. It was 1.360 seconds with 20 laps remaining, 2.201 seconds on lap 85, 3.058 seconds on lap 90, 4.055 seconds on lap 95, and 5.554 seconds when the checkered dropped.

Santos and C.J. Leary battled between themselves in the late stages and finished behind Swanson, while Justin Grant nipped Taylor Ferns for fourth on the last lap.

Swanson set the fastest lap of the race on lap 63 with a time of 15.499 seconds. Leary and Grant were second and third fastest with times of 15.76 on laps five and six, respectively.

“These long races are hard,” Swanson said afterwards. “You never really know how it’s going to go until the end. In the early going I was just trying to get a feel for my race car, figure out where the other top runners stood, and plan ahead so I had something at the end. The banking is so high here you can kill your tires, so I was trying to take care of my equipment the whole time. You can be sure I was all out at the end with a driver as good as Bobby Santos behind me though.

“I’m just grateful to be here and to be driving this car,” he added. “The Doran Binks crew never gave up, and they put their best car on the track. I’m also thankful for our sponsors, like Mission Foods and Glenn Farms.”

The race was streamed live by Flo Racing.

There are two more USAC Silver Crown races in May. The series travels to the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks’ dirt half-mile May 17-18, and the Hoosier Hundred will be held May 24 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg, Ind. Doran Binks Racing will also compete in the Little 500 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway on May 25, which is a non-points race sanctioned by the 500 Sprint Car Tour.

For more information see DoranRacing.com.

Doran Racing PR