In the sea of familiar faces on the grid for last Monday’s Redbud 400 Super Late Model race at Anderson Speedway in Indiana, there was one that stuck out more than others because you simply wouldn’t have expected him to be there.
Four-time USAC Silver Crown champion Kody Swanson.
Now, it’s not exactly jarring to see Swanson at Anderson, because he is the three-time and reigning winner of the Little 500 Sprint Car race held the Saturday night before the Indianapolis 500, but it was interesting to learn what exactly was on his agenda.
Having done about everything he set out to accomplish in the USAC ranks, the 31-year-old was wandering the garage area at the medium-banked quarter-mile with an eye towards transitioning to stock cars in the near future.
“Yeah, man, first of all, I ‘m just here because this a big, big Super Late Model race and I would love to at some point be able to try something like this in my career,” Swanson told Short Track Scene during driver introductions. “Being in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis 500 gets a lot of attention but there is a really healthy stock car scene here too and it’s something I want to try sometime.”
Indianapolis is the home to the Champion Racing Association, which hosts notable Super Late Model events as the Redbud 400, Winchester 400, Kalamazoo Klash, Speedfest and the World Stock Car Festival.
As a result, several USAC Silver Crown races are promoted in conjunction with CRA Super Series events – including the 51 Super Select the night before NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 at Lucas Oil Raceway Park.
So, with Swanson working not too far from Anderson, and it being a Monday, the Redbud was an easy trip for the four-time Hoosier Hundred winner.
“This was an easy trip for me so I took a half day from work and snuck out the back door to see what I could learn,” he said. “I even made it in time for drivers meeting, watched some practice and talked to teams. I know a few of these guys and I met the rest of them today. We’ll see what today brings.”
Swanson has become a cult racing icon in the Midwest but still dreams of becoming an elite national star. He’s come close to testing an ARCA car on a couple of occasions and even has the support of 2016 ARCA champion and current NASCAR Xfinity Series contender Chase Briscoe anytime the topic comes up.
It’s just a matter of talking a team owner into letting him turn some laps.
“I’ve been around the ARCA garage a lot over the year and made some contacts and nearly had some opportunities and they just didn’t come together for whatever reason,” he explained. “We were supposed to turn some laps on practice day at (IRP) last year and it rained out.
“So sometimes in racing, whether you’re the one driving or you’re just trying to get a ride, sometimes it’s just the little breaks that are the difference between winning or losing, or not making a living doing this. So, I figured the Redbud being this close, I couldn’t skip the chance. At least put the effort in and see where it goes from here.”
Swanson nearly drove for Cuningham Motorsports, thus the Briscoe connection, but that never panned out as the team shut down and reorganized into Chad Bryant Motorsports.
Briscoe had earned his ride by working in the team’s shop and repeatedly asking for a chance just to test the car. When given the chance, he excelled and won a championship.
Briscoe was hoping to see Swanson earn a similar shot.
“We almost got that test a few years ago when Chase had a schedule dilemma and couldn’t make it to (IRP) so he got them to call me to shake down the car,” Swanson said. “I wasn’t expecting anything, but I just wanted to get some laps under my belt. And then it rained all day.
” It’s one of those things where it might come up again, so you just have to be here and available. Like I said, I’ve been around the garage and I know a lot of those guys. It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together. I like the CRA guys and obviously we race with a lot of these teams over the years so maybe we can make something happen.”