Swanson Perseveres in Memphis 100 Win

It takes a master of a craft for an individual to adapt to anything thrown at them.

Kody Swanson has encountered countless tests throughout the offseason - in the weeks leading up to the first race and on both days of race weekend - yet he managed to ace them all, culminating in Saturday’s “Memphis 100” USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series victory at Memphis International Raceway.

At the conclusion of 2018, Swanson migrated to Nolen Racing after the closure of DePalma Motorsports with whom he won four of the previous five Silver Crown championships.  The team thrashed through the offseason to get their machines ready for the opener and had the foresight and the want-to to have two cars ready to go for Memphis.  As it turned out, they would need their full arsenal.

During Friday’s practice, Swanson practiced both of Nolen’s cars.  They had their primary car pulled apart on pit lane during the session after a brand-new driveshaft dealt them trouble.  Meanwhile, the team pulled out their backup and Swanson put some laps on it to make sure it was ready to run.  Swanson jumped back into the primary with a new driveshaft and proceeded to set the fastest lap of the afternoon. 

Fast forward to raceday on Saturday, Swanson took to practice back in the primary before encountering what he described as a fluke engine part issue.  Nolen once again had to roll the backup car out where they tweaked on the chassis to get it to where Kody felt it was at its best.  Enter qualifying and Swanson put it on the pole position. 

Easy as clockwork, right?  Of course not, but with Swanson as part of the operation, he almost makes it seem that way on the regular.

“I’m exhausted; I’m elated; I don’t even know what to feel,” Swanson exclaimed.  “I’m very grateful.  I haven’t been to my day job since Tuesday.  I could see the writing on the wall that we were already in a corner then.  We had guys that were there into the wee hours of the morning with me almost every night this week, then back at it the next day, just digging for all we were worth to be ready.  We got one ready and dug deep enough to get the other one ready just in case,” Swanson explained.  You hate to think you’d ever have a failure and need it, but we did, and it was ready to come in off the bench and do a great job for us.”

Swanson led the first five circuits from the pole position of the 100-lapper before David Byrne corralled Swanson and used an outside turn one pass to clear him for the point.  Eric Gordon capitalized and was able to grab second from Swanson just moments later on the back straightaway.  By lap eight, Swanson was fourth as hard-charging Aaron Pierce slipped by as well.

Matt Goodnight was the lone wall contact of the weekend, pounding the SAFER barrier between turns three and four on lap 10 to bring out a lengthy yellow, that ultimately resulted in a red flag for the cleanup.  He climbed from the car and walked away under his own power.  Fifth-running Kyle Hamilton also stopped during the incident and was relegated to the tail.

When racing resumed, Pierce was a man on a mission, sweeping by Gordon for second on the 25thlap and, one lap later, ripping by Byrne on the inside of turn three to snare the top spot.

Pierce had constructed a one-and-a-half second lead until lap 36 when he fell to the wayside with a driveline issue, putting him on the sidelines for the remainder of the afternoon.  That put two familiar foes, Swanson and Bobby Santos, at the front running one-two.

One lap following a restart, Santos made his move on Swanson, swiping the lead with an inside turn one pass just before the halfway mark, ultimately building a one-and-a-half second lead.  Coming into Memphis, Santos had won the series’ pavement opener in two-straight years and Swanson admitted tracking down Santos in a pavement Silver Crown car was no easy feat, but his faith and confidence never wavered.

“I did my homework enough to know that Memphis eats tires and that you need to be there at the end,” Swanson explained.  “I was glad to be in a good spot early and get the lead, but Bobby was coming strong through the middle.  I didn’t know if once he got the lead, we’d see him again.  I felt like we kind of stabilized there and got a couple restarts and got a chance to just start over.”

That chance seemingly arrived on the lap 71 restart when Swanson tracked Santos’ path and shot to the lead on the inside off turn two.  However, back in the pack, the machines of Travis Welpott (backstretch) and Austin Nemire (turn two) came to a stop to bring out the yellow, thus negating Swanson’s race-leading move.

With oil dry on the low line between turns one and two, Swanson had to alter his line entering and exiting the second turn as he went to work on Santos on the lap 79 restart.  It didn’t take long for the fruits of Swanson’s labor to pay dividends as Swanson was able to occupy the low line into turn three to overtake Santos for good.

Swanson still had to work his way through traffic down the stretch, weaving his way through as Santos kept a close watch.  Coming to the white flag, the cars of Chris Dyson and Byrne ran side-by-side into turn one.  Swanson looked for an escape and had to whoa up his ride, getting him a tad squirrely on entry, but recovered to drive around the outside of Dyson midway down the back straight and enter clear waters to win his 25thcareer USAC Silver Crown event.

Behind Swanson were a series of fascinating perseverance stories of their own.  Santos finished second after starting 21ston the grid due to having a push start on the initial start.  Grant was third after charging from 20thfollowing a right rear tire change prior to the start.  Hamilton earned a career-best fourth after restarting from the tail following Goodnight’s early-race incident.  Rookie Joey Schmidt took fifth in his very first Silver Crown start.

Yet, at the front, it was Swanson once again, who admitted he hadn’t even been able to go to the gym lately because he had been at the shop so much.  After burning the midnight (and beyond) oil night-after-night, and through the trials and tribulations, the Kingsburg, Calif. native once again prevailed, and takes off in 2019 right from where he left off with a group as dedicated as he is to the craft.

“If I’ve learned anything over the last five years, it’s that the effort put in by the people you work with can make all the difference.  This Nolen bunch, so many people have stepped up and really tried to put their best foot forward and give it all we had.”

Contingency award winners Saturday at Memphis International Raceway were Kody Swanson (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier), Bobby Santos (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Mike Haggenbottom (Wilwood Brakes 13thPlace Finisher).


USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: March 23, 2019 – Memphis International Raceway – Millington, Tennessee – “Memphis 100”

FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 20, Nolen-20.830; 2. Kyle Hamilton, 6, Klatt-21.083; 3. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-21.096; 4. Bobby Santos, 22, DJ-21.120; 5. Chris Windom, 17, Goodnight/Byrd-21.209; 6. C.J. Leary, 10, DMW-21.314; 7. Eric Gordon, 78, Armstrong/Slinkard-21.340; 8. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 11, DHR/Byrd-21.405; 9. Austin Nemire, 16, Nemire/Lesko-21.489; 10. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-21.559; 11. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-21.604; 12. Derek Bischak, 31, Bischak-21.715; 13. Bill Rose, 66, Rose-21.829; 14. Chris Dyson, 9, Dyson-21.837; 15. Joey Schmidt, 25, Pierce-21.900; 16. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott/EGR-21.927; 17. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-21.927; 18. Jason Conn, 88, DHR-21.983; 19. Kyle Robbins, 7, KR-22.202; 20. Cody Gallogly, 81, Williams-22.245; 21. Cody Gerhardt, 60, Gerhardt-22.904; 22. Mike Haggenbottom, 24, Haggenbottom-22.992; 23. Jim Anderson, 92, Kazmark-NT.

FEATURE: (100 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bobby Santos (21), 3. Justin Grant (20), 4. Kyle Hamilton (2), 5. Joey Schmidt (14), 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (7), 7. Eric Gordon (6), 8. Derek Bischak (9), 9. Chris Dyson (11), 10. David Byrne (3), 11. Kyle Robbins (18), 12. Cody Gerhardt (19), 13. Mike Haggenbottom (22), 14. Cody Gallogly (17), 15. Austin Nemire (8), 16. Travis Welpott (13), 17. C.J. Leary (5), 18. Aaron Pierce (10), 19. Bill Rose (12), 20. Chris Windom (4), 21. Jason Conn (15), 22. Matt Goodnight (16), 23. Jim Anderson (23). NT


FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 Swanson, Laps 6-25 Byrne, Laps 26-35 Pierce, Laps 36-49 Swanson, Laps 50-79 Santos, Laps 80-100 Swanson.



NEW USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES POINTS: 1-Swanson-76, 2-Santos-67, 3-Grant-64, 4-Hamilton-61, 5-Schmidt-58, 6-Thomas-55, 7-Gordon-52, 8-Bischak-49, 9-Dyson-46, 10-Byrne-43.

NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES RACE: April 14, 2019 – Terre Haute Action Track – Terre Haute, Indiana – Fatheadz Eyewear “Sumar Classic”

Why PRO? Your FloRacing Subscription Gives You Everything

The slide jobs, mud flying and heart-pumping action. The incredible finishes. And the undying love for dirt track racing – that's why you come to FloRacing. 

Fast Talk: Looking at Eldora's Unique Stream

Our weekly roundtable considers action from the final weekend in May as the drumbeat intensifies for the upcoming $50,000-to-win Stream Invitational at Eldora Speedway (edited for clarity and length):

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

USAC Sprints Prepared for 2nd Act Sunday at I-55

They say first impressions can make a lasting impression.

Wait is Over: USAC Sprints Saturday at 34 Raceway!

One-hundred-twelve days.  That’s the wait we’ve all had to endure since the last time the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars turned a wheel in competition when the series unloads this Saturday night, June 6, for Sonny’s Market Night at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa, the grand opening of a doubleheader weekend with a trip to Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 the following night, Sunday, June 7.

USAC Sprint Stat Book: Return to Racing Edition

Remember back.  The last time the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars competed, we were much younger, TV’s only had three channels and a hamburger at McDonald’s cost just a nickel.

English Tops Voting for Four Stream Spots

Tanner English of Benton, Ky., topped weekend fan voting that added four drivers to the roster of June 4-6’s Stream Invitational at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

McCarl Outduels Reutzel in Park Jefferson Finale

Unarguably one of the the most exciting main event outcomes in Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 and Bumper-to-Bumper IRA Series history, Altoona, Iowa’s Austin McCarl accomplished the near-impossible on Saturday night at Park Jefferson International Speedway in Jefferson, South Dakota, and held off two-time and defending All Star champion, Aaron Reutzel, for a first-ever Series victory and a $6,900 top prize. Originally slated to award $6,600, Kevin Rudeen of Rudeen Racing bumped the winner’s share an extra $300 to award $6,900.

Reutzel Opens All Star Points Season With Win


Although it has been over three months since the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 last hosted competition, two-time and defending Series champion, Aaron Reutzel, left zero doubt to those in attendance at Park Jefferson International Speedway in Jefferson, South Dakota, that the extended gap in the All Star schedule affected his focus and ability, ultimately ending his evening $6,600 richer, as well as the Series point leader. Including action that did not accumulate championship points in early February, the victory was Reutzel’s third of the 2020 season against the All Stars and the 28th of his career.

Jameson Rejoins Rattliff for Eldora Stream

Jason Jameson of Lawrenceburg, Ind., quickly landed a ride for the June 4-6 Dirt Late Model Stream Invitational at Eldora Speedway, reuniting with former car owner James Rattliff just hours after learning he was one of the 44 drivers invited to participate in the Rossburg, Ohio, track’s spectator-free weekend that is topped by a 67-lap, $50,000-to-win feature.

Stream Invitee Has One Big Problem: No Race Car

Jason Jameson was pleased when he learned Friday afternoon that his name appeared on the list of 44 drivers invited to compete in the spectator-free Dirt Late Model Stream Invitational June 4-6 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In