USAC: Kody Turns Tables in Swanson Brother Battle at “Rich Volger/USAC Hall of Fame Classic

RaceChaser Staff Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Midwest 0 Comments

Kody Swanson celebrates his win in the Rich Volger/USAC Hall of Fame Classic on Thursday night. (Chris Seelman photo)

Kody Swanson celebrates his win in the Rich Volger/USAC Hall of Fame Classic on Thursday night. (Chris Seelman photo)

Brownsburg, Indiana — Despite winning ten races and a pair of championships over the course of the last two-and-a-half seasons, Kody Swanson consistently played second fiddle to his brother, Tanner, each time the USAC Silver Crown division came to Lucas Oil Raceway.

But on Thursday night, Kody finally became first chair, ending Tanner’s stranglehold of the .686-mile paved oval and his run of five wins in the last six races at the track, dominating all 100 laps from the pole in a new (to him) racecar in the “Rich Vogler/USAC Hall of Fame Classic.”

Kody, of Kingsburg, California, hit the track in a different machine than he usually pilots, which also sported different colors. The DePalma Motorsports team recently acquired the former RFMS Motorsports car, driven by A.J. Fike in recent years, after irreparably damaging the primary, familiar white #63 at Gateway Motorsports Park in June.

On this night, though, Kody’s car was completely black, except for the red lettering that adorned the nose and tail tank of the machine. “The Man in Black,” as Kody would be known throughout the night, was on a rail from the get-go, setting ProSource Fast Qualifying time to earn the pole starting position.

The pomp and circumstance prior to the start of the main event was abundant with 12 new members joining the class of 2016 during a ceremony held on the front straightaway.

Steve Butler, Russ Clendenen, Jimmy Davies, Willie Davis, Bob Higman, Tommy Hinnershitz, Dick King, Rick Mears, Pat O’Connor, Kevin Olson, Tony Stewart and Bob Tattersall all joined the immortal list of those who have been enshrined as one of the legends for their contributions to USAC throughout their careers.

After the fifth annual USAC Hall of Fame induction ceremony concluded, it was time to get down to business. At the drop of the green flag, Kody spurted out front to take the advantage on the opening lap. Tanner, who started fourth, was not far behind, taking third from 1999 series champ Ryan Newman after the former Daytona 500 winner slid up and pancaked the wall, but kept on moving, at the exit of turn three on lap four.

On the 17th lap, Tanner got a run on second-place Jerry Coons, Jr., diving to the inside at the entrance of turn three and engaging in a wheel-to-wheel battle through turns three and four before sliding up in front of Coons at the exit of turn four to secure the runner-up spot.

However, by that point, Kody had already built up a half-straightaway lead. Yet, soon came lapped traffic, which entered the fray a quarter of the way into the race. As the leader, Kody knew Tanner was lurking and couldn’t be too far behind. His pace could not lessen or Kody would once again have the oh-so-familiar sight of staring directly at the tail tank of the black and yellow 02 of his younger brother as he pulled away into the distance.

Entangled in traffic on lap 24, Kody chose to split the lapped cars of David Bryne and Shane Cottle at the exit of turn two, then slide down below to overtake both Shane Cockrum and Casey Shuman in turn four to maintain his gap over a closing Tanner, who chopped Kody’s lead by a half-second.

On a lap 48 restart, after a spin by Patrick Lawson between turns one and two, the field was bunched up and the lead cars were removed from lap traffic. Immediately, it didn’t appear to make much of a difference as Kody pulled away from Tanner and the rest of the field once again. With 30 laps to go, Kody had once again rebuilt his lead to a half-straightaway.

A pair of cautions in the late-going couldn’t even hinder Kody’s dominance, but an Austin Nemire spin with two laps remaining did set up one last green-white-checkered run to the checkered between Kody and Tanner.

As had happened time and time again throughout the night, Kody got a good jump on the restart, pulling away to create a seven-car-length interval between the two by the time the pair had crossed under the white flag.

Kody would not be deterred on the final lap, defeating Tanner by 0.768 seconds, followed by Coons, Bobby Santos, Chris Windom and Newman at the line to finally return to victory lane at Lucas Oil Raceway for the first time since July of 2011 in his DePalma Motorsports/Radio Hospital – Champion Oil/Beast/Hampshire Chevy. With the victory, Kody, the two-time, defending series champ, retook the point lead by seven markers over Chris Windom.

“Tanner is the best here; there’s no question,” Kody said of his younger brother. “People asked me last time about the sibling rivalry, and I told them, ‘There isn’t a rivalry; I’m 0-for-6. He just beats me.’ Tonight, though, we got the better of him. I can’t thank this team enough. They just about pulled an all-nighter last night to get this thing together. I have to thank Don Fike too; he gave us a whale of a deal on this car.”

“To win this event is great. To be a part of this series is just great. I’ve heard stories about Rich (Vogler) and, to win a race in his memory, that’s really special to me. It’s so neat that his family still supports USAC and the pleasure is mine tonight.”

Despite coming up a little short in a solid second-place run, Kingsburg, California’s Tanner Swanson extended his streak of top-two finishes in the Silver Crown Series at Lucas Oil Raceway to seven in his Bowman Racing/Bowman Properties – Bowman-Elmore Racing/Beast/Kistler Chevy.

“I could stand here and tell a bunch of lies and say we had a chance, but the fact is he was just better tonight,” Tanner acknowledged. “I thought we’d have a shot with another yellow, and then we got another one and had no chance. We’ve been on the other end of that deal and have had great cars and have been able to capitalize, but tonight, we just missed it.”

“Kody was just hooked up. We could go for about two laps after a restart, but there was no way we could keep the pace he had. I know he wasn’t showing us all he had, but I told (car owner) Mike Bowman that, three years ago, this team had never won a Silver Crown race and we would’ve been ecstatic with second. We’ll move on, but if we can’t win it, I’m glad Kody did.”

Tucson, Arizona’s Jerry Coons, Jr. raced to his best career finish at Lucas Oil Raceway Thursday night, garnering a third-place finish in his Nolen Racing/KECO – Columbus Container/Beast/Tranter Chevy. It also marked the best finish for a Gene Nolen-owned car at LOR since Jim Keeker drove the number 20 to victory in August of 1995.

“My spotter was keeping me aware of where I was,” Coons explained. “We’ve had good cars here and we tried a different setup tonight and were just a little too positive on the right front. You never have a perfect car, but they gave me a good one tonight. I felt like we were better on the long runs than Santos, but he was better on the short ones, so I was a little nervous with all those yellows. I was just hoping we could get through the lap traffic smoothly and, thankfully, we did.

Contingency award winners at Lucas Oil Raceway included Kody Swanson (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Casey Shuman (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) Kevin Studley (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher).

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