It’s admittedly hard to stop a train. And about the closest thing to a train of late is Kody Swanson in a USAC Silver Crown car at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway.
While we watch in awe at the Kingsburg, Calif. native’s historic run at the half-mile paved oval, the hunger continues to build and the desire within burns hotter than ever for those in the field to dethrone the champ at his personal ATM this Saturday night, August 5.
Equaling the biggest field ever for a USAC Silver Crown event at Toledo, these 24 men and women are up to the challenge of making Saturday night’s 10th running of the Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic Fueled By Marco’s Pizza one of their finest moments.
Here’s six storylines to watch coming up this weekend at Toledo!
Since 1976, there had been one individual who stood head and shoulders above all others in terms of USAC national feature victories at Toledo Speedway. That was Rollie Beale.
In 2022, Kody Swanson moved atop the list, topping Beale’s long-standing record at his hometown track, and he did in the race named after the legend he passed who had earned five USAC National Sprint Car feature triumphs between 1971 and 1976 at the track.
Swanson now owns six career USAC Silver Crown victories at Toledo to go along with six poles. To boot, Swanson’s 2022 win was ahis fourth consecutive win in the event, checking the “W” column with top-flight performances in 2011-15-18-19-21-22. Swanson is also the only driver to have started all nine USAC Silver Crown events ever run at Toledo dating back to 2010 and has now led 655 of the 1,000 total laps ever run in Silver Crown competition at Toledo for a percentage of 65.5%.
Only three drivers have won six career USAC Silver Crown poles at a single track. Swanson became the first to have at least six poles at two different tracks (Indianapolis Raceway Park & Toledo). His younger brother, Tanner Swanson (IRP) and Dave Steele (Phoenix International Raceway) are the others.
In addition to winning each of his past two Silver Crown starts this season at Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway and Indiana’s Winchester Speedway, Swanson is also eying a share of another Silver Crown record by winning five consecutive series races at one track. Dave Steele won five-straight at Phoenix International Raceway between 2002-06 while Kody himself scored five-in-a-row at Indiana’s Salem Speedway between 2016-20.
SANTOS A DUAL THREAT
Back in 2017, Bobby Santos raced around Kody Swanson just before the midway point to score one in the win column for himself and the DJ Racing team.
This year alone, the Franklin, Mass. native has finished inside the top-two in all three of his USAC Silver Crown starts, which is the current longest string of top-two results by any driver in the series. He grabbed a victory in the opener at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, then reeled off consecutive runner-up results at Madison and Winchester.
Santos is the only driver to win at Toledo Speedway in a USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Silver Crown car in his career in addition to collecting a King of the Wing Sprint Car victory there in 2017.
He enters this Saturday’s race with five-straight top-two finishes at Toledo’s Rollie Beale Classic dating back to his 2017 victory. Since then, he’s been the runner-up on four consecutive occasions at Toledo, which interestingly enough, have all come from starting positions behind the front row. On Saturday, he aims to break the Swanson stranglehold.
A NEW LEGACY
Davey Hamilton Jr. has been a prime performer in USAC Silver Crown competition at Toledo, finishing 6th in 2017 and 5th in his 2021 return. He enters Saturday coming off a 5th place result in his most recent start at Winchester.
On Saturday, the Boise, Idaho native will take over the reins of the highly competitive No. 19 out of the Legacy Autosport stable. The car has made four starts since debuting with the series last fall, finishing a stout 3rd, 3rd, 3rd and 8th on the pavement with a combination of Tyler Roahrig and Caleb Armstrong at the wheel.
The new combination hopes to bring a first ever USAC Silver Crown victory to both driver and team.
SEAVEY KEEPING TABS
Throughout the first four rounds of the USAC Silver Crown season, Logan Seavey had kept Kody Swanson at bay.
The Sutter, Calif. native supplemented his win on the dirt at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway with a 5th at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks and coupled a pair of spectacular showings on the pavement with a 2nd at IRP and a 5th at Madison.
After which, he led Swanson in the championship pursuit after finishing as the runner-up in the title race during each of the past two seasons.
However, Winchester spelled a different story for Seavey and his Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing team, as they lost their brakes early, then replaced them during a red flag only to have the right front wheel center break later on, sending Seavey and his machine straight into the turn two wall.
The accident proved detrimental in more ways than one as the 12th place finish relegated Seavey back to second in the standings, 16 out, while Seavey finds himself in the position of having to chase Swanson once again starting at Toledo.
A pair of drivers whose last names just so happen to start with the letter “B” have been on a surge of late with the USAC Silver Crown series.
In May, Derek Bischak, in his fifth year with the series, earned a best career finish of fourth at IRP. Most recently in July at Winchester, he upped his performance to a career-best 3rd on the high banks of Winchester. If Bischak was a stock, you should probably be in. The Angola, Ind. racer has been a hard-charging performer in his only two previous starts at Toledo, going 12th to 8th in 2019 and 19th to 6th in 2022.
While Bischak was the 2019 series’ top Rookie, Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) is currently in pursuit of achieving the same. She leads the 2023 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year standings entering Toledo and has been quite proficient at regularly advancing through the field.
In each of her past two series starts, both on pavement, she moved from 15th to 8th at Madison and 13th to 7th at Winchester, both of which earned her hard charger honors. On the pavement of IRP in May, she charged from 30th to 15th. All of which has helped her to third place in the overall series standings at press time.
This Saturday’s race is also a homecoming of sorts for Bryson who made her first career USAC Silver Crown start at Toledo in August of 2022, finishing 13th.
BEALE STREET IN TOLEDO
Saturday’s event marks the 50th 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.
SATURDAY’S RACE DETAILS:
The event will feature the USAC Silver Crown National Championship plus Late Model Sportsman and Factory Stocks. Vintage Race Cars will also be on display.
The USAC pit gate opens/rig parking begins at 2pm Eastern on race day Saturday. The track ticket office opens, and spectator gates open at 4:30pm. USAC Silver Crown practice runs from 4:30-5:15pm. USAC Silver Crown Honest Abe Roofing Qualifying begins at 5:45pm. Parade laps for the vintage cars are slated for 6:35pm. USAC Silver Crown cars and drivers will be called to front stretch at 6:50pm.
Getting closer to showtime, there will be a Beale family introduction, a brief racer reunion, the national anthems starting at 6:50 followed by driver introductions and the Rollie Beale Classic main event just a bit after 7pm.
Tickets are $25, kids 6-12 are $5, while ages 5 and under are free. Add $1 per ticket for online ticket purchases at http://www.toledospeedway.com/
. Online ticket sales end at 9pm Eastern on Friday, August 4.
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