Doran Racing’s Swanson Sets Records
And Earns Podium Finish at Winchester;
Takes Lead in USAC Silver Crown Championship
WINCHESTER, Ind., July 24 — Doran Racing’s Kody Swanson set two track records, extended another series record, and earned a podium finish of second place in the Rich Vogler Classic USAC Silver Crown race Thursday night at Winchester Speedway. He almost came away with the victory, as he finished just 0.050 of a second behind Justin Grant in the 100-lap race on the fast but bumpy half-mile asphalt oval with 37-degree banked turns.
Although he’s only running a partial season in this series this year, with the excellent finish he took the point lead in the championship with 204 points to Grant’s 200.
In an intense effort to nip Grant at the line, Swanson set the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, lap 100, with a time of 15.240 seconds. Grant set the second-fastest lap of the race on the same lap with a time of 15.341 seconds.
The fastest race lap was one of two track records Swanson set Thursday in the Doran Racing Beast No. 77, which is powered by a Ford V8 engine prepped by Lanci Engines and sponsored by Glenn Farms, Lykins Energy Solutions and TJ Forged wheels.
The other record was earned during Fatheadz Eyewear qualifying, when Swanson won the pole with his first lap and then bettered that on his second lap with a time of 14.459 seconds, which went into the record books. He admitted afterwards that he held his breath on his last qualifying lap as he gave it his all. By topping the field Thursday in those two categories Swanson earned automatic track records, since this was the series’ first appearance at this track.
The pole was Swanson’s 32nd career pole in this series, which extends another record he holds, as no one has won more poles, more races, or more championships in this series than Swanson has.
Bobby Santos III was the second-fastest qualifier, 0.358 behind Swanson with a 14.817, and he went on to finish third in the race, 0.571 behind him. Aaron Pierce and Kyle O’Gara rounded out the top five in the event, which attracted a field of 19.
Besides the usual challenges of dicing with the top runners and weaving through the lapped traffic, the race was a high-speed chess match that was affected by the timing of late caution flags. There were four yellows during the race. The last one from laps 96-98, which was necessary after Austin Nemire spun in Turn 3, set up a green-white-checkered finish. It affected Swanson’s momentum, as he was just 0.226 behind Grant on lap 95 and appeared poised to strike until the field was forced to slow down.
Although Swanson, a native of Kingsburg, Calif., who now lives in the Indianapolis area, gave it his all, Grant was about a half a car length ahead at the checkered.
Swanson led the first four laps, but then Santos got under him in Turn 3 to push him to second. The top pair remained close, as Swanson was 0.1 or 0.2 behind Santos from lap five through lap 15, when the first caution flew after Patrick Lawson stopped in Turn 3.
Swanson was only 0.159 behind Santos on lap 22, but on lap 23 Pierce came from third to pass both Swanson and Santos, which pushed Swanson to third. Pierce led until lap 58. Meanwhile, Grant passed Swanson for third on lap 24, and the Doran No. 77 dropped to sixth on lap 27 as Swanson kept close while trying to save his equipment for what was to come.
He passed Santos for fifth on lap 34, and he moved into fourth on the next lap when both he and Santos passed O’Gara. Swanson then took third from David Byrne on lap 37.
Swanson was the fastest driver in the first half of the race, as he ran a 15.773 on lap 47 while third to Grant’s 15.858 on lap 44 while he was second. But then the second yellow flew on lap 48 after Nathan Byrd slowed and his car leaked fluid onto to the track. So at the halfway point the field was under yellow, and the top five were Pierce, Grant, Swanson, Santos and O’Gara.
Following the restart on lap 52 the intensity of the race increased, with the top four drivers running nose to tail. It all came to a head on lap 58 when both Grant and Swanson passed Pierce to take over first and second, respectively. Santos got by Pierce on the next lap but he couldn’t pass Swanson, who was only 0.3 behind Grant.
Grant and Swanson were then able to pull away from the others. Swanson kept the pressure up on Grant and was only 0.2 behind him until lap 74, when lapped traffic allowed Grant to edge ahead by 0.432.
Grant was able to increase his advantage after that because Swanson got held up in lapped traffic. Grant was 2 seconds ahead of Swanson when the third yellow waved on lap 85 after Shane Cottle had mechanical difficulties and spun in Turn 4 while running eighth.
The green flew again on lap 92, and Swanson was ready. Two laps later Swanson was only 0.199 behind Grant and looking for a way by. He was still very close, only 0.226 behind Grant, when the fourth and final yellow flew on lap 96, setting up the wild dash to the finish.
“I really hate to lose any of these races, but I have to congratulate Justin Grant for running a great race and getting the win,” Swanson said afterwards.
“When I dropped back to sixth I was just trying to take care of the car for the last run. Our car wasn’t as good as I was hoping later in the race, and the timing of those last cautions didn’t go our way. On the last lap I tried my best, and we just came up a bit short, and felt like I had run myself out of laps to finish the job.
"I want to thank the Doran Racing team for all of their hard work. They gave me a good car, good enough to win, and I'm just disappointed that I didn't finish it for them. I certainly appreciate their effort, and look forward to trying again at Lucas Oil Raceway next month.”
The team’s next event is the big-paying Hoosier Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind., on Aug. 13-14. Doran Racing will field a car for Swanson in the sprint car race that Friday night and the USAC Silver Crown race there that Saturday night.
For more information on Doran Racing, see DoranRacing.com.
The team also has a Facebook page.