Nolen Racing's Swanson Increases Point Lead With Victory in Bytec ‘Dairyland 100’
OREGON, Wis., July 1 — Nolen Racing’s Kody Swanson earned $8,000 and 70 points to increase his lead in the USAC Silver Crown point standings Friday night by winning the Bytec “Dairyland 100” on the half-mile, semi-banked paved oval at Madison International Speedway.
It was the series’ second visit to this track, Swanson’s second victory here, and his third series victory this year and the 27th one of his career, as the four-time champion added to his total as the most successful driver in USAC Silver Crown history.
Swanson, a native of Kingsburg, Calif. now living in Zionsville, Ind., earned his fourth pole in the series this year in Fatheadz qualifying. This one was a new track record of 16.852 seconds, breaking Justin Grant’s mark of 16.870 established last year. It was the 28th time Swanson has been the fastest qualifier at a USAC Silver Crown race, which is also a record.
This time he was in the bright yellow Nolen Racing No. 20 asphalt Silver Crown car, which is a Beast chassis with a Tranter-prepared Chevrolet engine. The car is sponsored in part by KECO Coatings, Goodridge, Wilwood Brakes and K&N Filters.
Swanson was never lower than third during Friday night’s race at Madison, which features long straightaways and tight corners.
The 21-car race got off to a rocky start. The yellow flew from laps one through 10 after Chris Dyson spun in Turn 2 and made contact with the wall in an accident that also involved Matt Goodnight. Dyson was unhurt even if his car was not, and Goodnight rejoined the field for the restart on lap 11.
David Byrne passed Swanson on the inside of Turn 3 to take the lead on lap 13. Three laps later Kyle Hamilton also got by to push Swanson to third.
A second yellow flew from laps 29 through 34 after the right-front wheel center broke on Austin Nemire’s car on the backstretch. His car slowed to a stop between Turns 3 and 4 while his wheel continued to the start-finish line before it could be retrieved.
Swanson set his fastest lap of the first half of the race on lap 37 with a 17.227 while he was third. He was 0.180 behind second-place Byrne and 0.537 ahead of fourth-place Grant at the time.
Swanson was still third, just 0.333 behind Byrne and 0.722 ahead of Grant, when a third caution flew from laps 45-47 when Kyle Robbins spun in Turn 4.
The race resumed, but not for long. Grant’s rear panhard bar broke, colliding with his torque tube and the snout of the rear end, separating the two, and spilling rear-end oil onto the racetrack on lap 51. Derek Bischak spun to a stop just before hitting the outside crash wall, and Travis Welpott slid in the oil into the Turn 3 wall. Luckily no one was hurt, but that crash caused a red flag. A look at the scoreboard showed Hamilton still leading Byrne, with Swanson third followed by Bobby Santos III and Eric Gordon.
After trying his best to conserve his tires and brakes in the first half of the race and adapt to the changing track conditions and his lessening fuel load, Swanson had something for the competition in the second half.
He passed Byrne on lap 57 to regain second place, and then he set his sights on Hamilton.
Lapped traffic played a key role, as he used it to time things just right to get the lead from Hamilton in Turn 4 20 laps later.
He was never again headed, but it still wasn’t smooth sailing. Just as he was about to take the checkered on lap 100 with a 5.021-second lead over Hamilton, a yellow flew when Nemire had another problem.
“It looked like [Nemire’s car’s] right-front assembly had a failure, which let the frame of his car down onto the racetrack and knocked the drag link off of the steering arm,” Swanson said. “So without any control, he slid from the top of Turn 4 down into the infield across a bunch of traffic, right in front of us.”
That set up a green-white-checkered finish for the restart on lap 108. Although it allowed the field to close up on him, Swanson was up to the challenge and he had a 1.678-second margin of victory over Hamilton when the race finally concluded with 109 laps complete. Byrne finished third followed by Santos and Gordon.
Swanson set his best lap of the race on that final lap with a 17.182 to Hamilton’s fastest lap overall of 17.091 on lap 42.
The race was covered live on a pay-per-view basis on FloRacing.com.
Swanson now has 393 points to Grant’s 343. Byrne is third in the standings with 291 followed by Gordon with 274 and Santos with 259.
There are no USAC Silver Crown races in July, but there are two in August. The first is Aug. 10 at Salem Speedway in Salem, Ind., and the second is Aug. 17 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
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:
“There are no easy wins in the USAC Silver Crown series, and this one was no exception. Kyle Hamilton and David Byrne were both very good, especially in the first half of the race. The way this race unfolded wasn’t exactly normal, but that’s what keeps us on our toes. Maybe some of those abnormalities helped things go our way and gave us a chance to be there at the end. Everyone involved with this team has been continuing to put forth the effort, and I’m certainly not going to give up on them in these 100-lap races. I’m very thankful for this team and for the support of our partners and sponsors, and happy to help get them a win in Madison.”
Photo credit: USAC photos by Rich Forman