Kody Swanson continues to make USAC Silver Crown history on a weekly basis.
With a victory on Friday night in the Carb Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, the 30-year-old became just the 11th driver to win three consecutive races. The triumph also gives him 22 career victories, one short from tying all-time leader Jack Hewitt.
Only eight times previously has a driver gone back-to-back-to-back within the same season in Silver Crown competition, Mario Andretti (1974), Tom Bigelow (1975), Rick Hood (1985), Jack Hewitt (1986), J.J. Yeley (2003), Jay Drake (2004), Tyler Walker (2004) and Steele (2005).
And oh by the way, with the next race taking place at Madison International Speedway, another victory would make even more history — making him just the second driver after Dave Steele to win three straight pavement races. In other words, Silver Crown is Swanson’s world and everyone is just allowed to live it.
That includes his younger brother, Tanner.
Tanner Swanson won the pole for the 100-lap classic, but elected to start at the rear in pursuit of a $5,000 bonus, climbed to second but was ultimately unable to overtake his brother. Tanner got to the outside, side-by-side with Kody, but was blocked by lapped traffic.
Tanner never recovered and finished 2.5 seconds behind his big brother.
“Man, we weren’t good enough tonight,” Kody Swanson said. “Dave Steele is the greatest open-wheel pavement driver and my little brother is probably next. He showed it tonight, starting from the tail and hopefully the world sees what I’ve known for years. It might be for luck that I was able to hold him off. He got to my outside and there was traffic there, and we did a pick-and-roll.”
There certainly was some degree of luck with the younger Swanson running short of fuel over the final 10 laps.
“If not for that, I’m not sure I don’t hold him off,” Kody added.
Either way, it was a family affair for the Swanson family, with the entire clan filling up victory lane at the .686-mile short track just 15 minutes away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Tanner was perhaps held back by his decision to start at the back, having spent 15 laps struggling to work his way around Aaron Pierce for second, likely costing him both tire grip and the fuel reserved he would have typically saved starting at the front of the field.
Tanner finally made the move on lap 68, sliding up in front of Pierce for second with an inside move in turn three. However, Tanner drifted up the racetrack, nearly collecting the outside SAFER barrier in the process. Pierce got back by momentarily, but it would be only four more laps before Tanner found a little bit of redemption, passing Pierce again, this time on the outside of turn two to take second.
But the younger Swanson had no regrets about starting in the back.
“It was something different,” Tanner said. “It was a good chance to give these fans a memory they wouldn’t forget. I felt like we played it pretty well … We got to Kody in lap traffic and got side-by-say with him, and got our hopes dashed.”
And despite finishing 1-2, the Swansons made the night about Steele, who died in 2017, and for whom the race was named in honor of.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but Dave gave my brother an incredible opportunity to come back to the Midwest and race Midgets full-time. And that allowed me some chances too. We sure do miss him and we dedicate this to his memory.”
And that’s ultimately what both Swansons did with a dramatic battle over the final 15 laps. And now, Kody Swanson seems poised to join his mentor and friend, Steele, in the USAC history books.
“This requires a lot of luck and we got that the past two nights,” Kody said. “Like I told you last night, our guys work really hard. And I get the honor of driving for them. We’ve also caught a lot of breaks. So when people make those comparisons, I still don’t think I belong there, but we work awfully hard so we can enjoy the moment.”
The complete results from the Carb Night Classic can be found below.
FEATURE: (100 laps) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Tanner Swanson (22), 3. Aaron Pierce (6), 4. Bobby Santos (2), 5. Chris Windom (4), 6. Justin Grant (5), 7. David Byrne (3), 8. Jim Anderson (8), 9. Eric Gordon (9), 10. Kyle Hamilton (21), 11. Travis Welpott (17), 12. Patrick Lawson (16), 13. Cody Gerhardt (14), 14. Dave Darland (13), 15. Kyle Robbins (11), 16. Toni Breidinger (15), 17. Matt Goodnight (12), 18. Bill Rose (18), 19. Jerry Coons Jr. (7), 20. Derek Bischak (20), 21. Austin Blair (10), 22. Mike Haggenbottom (19).
NEW USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-K. Swanson-359, 2-Grant-260, 3-Byrne-240, 4-Windom-238, 5-Pierce-202, 6-Santos-198, 7-Welpott-188, 8-Goodnight-184, 9-Nemire-178, 10-Coons-170.
NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 29 – Oregon, Wisconsin – Madison International Speedway – “Bytec Dairyland 100”