Doran Racing and Kody Swanson got their 2021 asphalt sprint car season off to an excellent start Saturday night by winning the “Dave Steele Memorial World Non-Winged Championship 125” at Showtime Speedway for the second year in a row.
Swanson, of Zionsville, Ind., drove the Lebanon, Ohio-based team’s brand-new No. 77 Beast chassis sponsored by Glenn Farms of Woodland, Ga., to a 4.220-second victory on the three-eighths-mile asphalt oval for the $5,000 top prize. It was the first event for both the blue car and its Chevy LS V8 engine.
The victory came after a hard-fought battle with Kyle O’Gara, who started on the pole and led the first 100 laps before Swanson passed him on lap 101 of the 125-lap event with a move to the inside as the pair flew down the frontstretch. The handling of O’Gara’s car started to go away with about 20 laps to go, resulting in Swanson’s large margin of victory. Prior to that the pair duked it out for about 55 intense laps, with Swanson running directly behind O’Gara or alongside him before he was able to make a pass stick.
L.J. Grimm, Shane Butler and Tyler Roahrig rounded out the top five in the 17-car field that featured many of the same drivers Swanson will face in the PayLess Little 500 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway on May 29.
Swanson was the fastest qualifier with a time of 13.566 seconds, earning a bonus from the parents of the late Dave Steele, Mac and Carol Steele. Due to the luck of the draw he started fourth behind O’Gara, Joe Ligouri and Dakota Armstrong.
He moved into third on lap five by passing Ligouri. He took second on lap 22 when he passed Armstrong in Turns 1 and 2, and then set his sights on O’Gara.
There were seven yellows and two reds in the first part of the race, but the last 34 laps went non-stop.
The yellow and subsequent red on lap 24 could have been disastrous. First two cars running in the back of the field spun in Turn 4 to bring out the caution flag. As the field proceeded around the track, Armstrong launched himself over Shane Butler’s car, becoming airborne but landing on all four wheels. At that point the red flag waved for oil on the speedway.
Butler, who was running right behind Swanson, didn’t slow down and went up and into Swanson’s car on the backstretch. Butler’s car was hooked into the right side of Swanson’s car when they stopped. Luckily they got unhooked and both drivers were able to continue.
O’Gara set the fastest lap of the race on lap 45 with a time of 13.322 seconds. Swanson set the second-fastest lap of the race on lap 107 with a time of 13.331 seconds. Roahrig was third-fastest with a 13.460 on lap 63.
“It means a lot to win this race in honor of Dave Steele, and to race in memory of a friend,” Swanson said in victory lane. “Thanks to the entire Doran Racing team for busting their tails, and to everyone who supports us. It takes many hands.
“I was trying very hard; Kyle is a great racer,” Swanson continued. “He is tough here at Showtime for sure. The longer the race goes, the hourglass is running out of sand, and I tried to pass him for many laps. He developed a little push, and that allowed us to get around him.”
On Friday night at Showtime Swanson overcame involvement in a pre-race crash to finish fourth in the 30-lap non-wing sprint car feature, which O’Gara won. The accident occurred when Butler spun during the initial start and collected the cars of Swanson, Grimm, Johnny Gilbertson and Ronnie Wuerdeman on the backstretch near Turn 2 with no laps down. Luckily Swanson was able to continue and he had a dramatic rally at the end even though his car’s right-front tire was losing air. On lap 29 Swanson moved into fifth by passing Armstrong, and on the last lap both he and Armstrong passed Liguori to vault Swanson into fourth.
Both Friday and Saturday’s races were broadcast live on Speed51.tv.
For more information on Doran Racing see DoranRacing.com.
Doran Racing PR