Nolen Racing's Swanson Dominates 'Rollie Beale Classic' Sunday at Toledo
TOLEDO, Ohio, April 28 — Nolen Racing’s Kody Swanson continues to rewrite the USAC Silver Crown record book, as he dominated the Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness “Rollie Beale Classic” Sunday afternoon at Toledo Speedway. He won the pole, led all 100 laps of the race, had more than a 4-second lead over runner-up Bobby Santos III at the checkered flag, and set the fastest race lap to boot as he extended his record for the most series victories by anyone in history to 26.
It was the second victory in as many races this season for Swanson, a native of Kingsburg, Calif. who now lives in Zionsville, Ind., and the Whiteland, Ind.-based Nolen Racing team. Swanson was unstoppable in Gene Nolen’s famous yellow No. 20, which is a Beast chassis powered by a Tranter-prepared Chevrolet engine that is supported in part by KECO Coatings, Goodridge, K&N Filters and Wilwood Brakes.
Four drivers — Kyle Hamilton, Eric Gordon, Aaron Pierce and Santos — ran in second place during the race, which was delayed one day due to rain, but none could catch Swanson as he masterfully covered the half-mile asphalt oval enroute to his second consecutive and fourth overall victory in this race. There were four yellows that generated the same number of restarts to give his rivals good opportunities to get by, but no one could pass the four-time and defending series champion.
Hamilton, who qualified second, came closest. He was running about a tenth of a second behind Swanson until he got out of shape between Turns 3 and 4 on lap 20 and caused an inadvertent yellow. He blended back in line in ninth place for the restart.
That gave second to Gordon, who ran about two-tenths of a second behind Swanson for a while. However, at the halfway point Swanson was 0.530 seconds ahead of him.
Gordon pulled off the track four laps later with a reported driveline issue, although he returned later. That gave second to Pierce, but Swanson had a 1.6-second lead over him when the event’s final yellow flew on lap 59 when Chris Dyson spun into the infield between Turns 3 and 4.
As the race continued and his VP Racing fuel load decreased, Swanson got even faster. He had stretched his lead over Pierce to 1.9 seconds by lap 75, 2.681 seconds by lap 80, and 2.872 seconds with 10 laps to go.
Shortly thereafter Santos passed Pierce for second, but with five laps to go Swanson was 4.107 seconds ahead of him and he extended that to 4.121 seconds at the checkered. It was his sixth-straight Silver Crown pavement race victory, an all-time record. The top six were Swanson, Santos, Pierce, Justin Grant, Chris Windom and Hamilton. Gordon ended up 18th with 95 laps complete.
Swanson set the fastest lap of the race on lap 73 with a time of 15.498 seconds. Santos, who won this race in 2017, had the second-fastest lap with a 15.618 on lap 95 as he desperately tried to catch the yellow No. 20.
Earlier in the day Swanson was the Fatheadz Eyewear fastest qualifier for a record 26th time in his USAC Silver Crown career. His second qualifying lap was completed in 14.856 seconds to edge Hamilton by 0.242 of a second. It was almost a new track record but not quite. Swanson went even faster in qualifying here on Oct. 15, 2011 to earn that record with a time of 14.809 seconds.
The event, which had 24 entries, was broadcast live on FloRacing.
May is one of the busiest and most important months of the year for Nolen Racing. There are two USAC Silver Crown races in two days, as the 64th and final “Hoosier Hundred” is scheduled for the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis on Thursday, May 23. After that the historic dirt oval will become just a chapter in the auto racing history books, as the current fair board plans to add crushed stone to the surface and use the track solely for harness race horse training and automobile parking.
The following day, Friday, May 24, the USAC Silver Crown series is back on an asphalt track at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind. Swanson won both of those USAC Silver Crown races last year, but the story gets even better.
The next day, Saturday, May 25, Swanson will try to win his second consecutive Pay Less Supermarkets Little 500 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway, which is the most famous asphalt sprint car race in the world. Nolen Racing will field two cars in that race, as Shane Hollingsworth of Lafayette, Ind., who finished third at the Little 500 last year, will again join Swanson under the Nolen Racing tents.
For more information see the team’s website at NolenRacing.com and follow @NolenRacing on Facebook and @NolenRacing20 on Twitter. USAC’s website is at usacracing.com.
Swanson’s post-race quote follows:
“Everyone on the Nolen Racing team works so hard. Yesterday we worked in the parking lot for six and a half hours before the rain came to make sure we were as ready as we could be for today’s race.
“I’m thankful to my team and our sponsors, and to the organizers, promoters and sponsors of this race. I’m thankful to the fans that braved the cold to be here, and I’m thankful to my wife and spotter, Jordan. In two days it’ll be our eighth wedding anniversary. I have a lot to be thankful for.
“The race worked out well, but it was nerve-wracking. I had a really good car, and I just wanted to execute at the end. I knew Bobby Santos was there; he’s always a threat at the end.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of hours myself as have a lot of the guys and gals on this team. It’s great to have a result like this for all of their efforts.”
Photo credit: USAC