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26 Entries, 100 Laps on the Banks! USAC Silver Crown Takes on Winchester Thursday

By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Winchester, Indiana (July 17, 2023)………Twenty-six USAC Silver Crown cars and drivers highlight the entry list for this week’s Rich Vogler Classic Presented By The Pallet Builder at Indiana’s Winchester Speedway on July 20.
It’s the largest USAC Silver Crown field to greet the 37-degree banks in what will be the series’ third Winchester appearance, which featured a field of 19 in 2021 and 21 cars in 2022. In fact, it’s the largest lineup of cars and drivers for any USAC event at Winchester since 26 sprint cars were on hand for the April 2008 edition of the Rich Vogler Classic.

WINCHESTER WINNERS, SERIES CHAMPS
Thursday’s field features each of the two past USAC Silver Crown winners at Winchester, USAC Silver Crown champions Justin Grant in 2021 and Kody Swanson in 2022.
Swanson, a seven-time series titlist aims to become the first repeat winner of the Rich Vogler Classic since Tracy Hines did so in a midget during the 2012-13 editions at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) finished as a close runner-up to Grant in 2021 and walloped the field in 2022 by a 10-second margin. Swanson has also won the pole in each of the past two years at Winchester, and his time of 14.459 seconds in the 2021 qualifying session stands as the track record, and translates to an average speed of 124.490 mph around the half-mile paved oval.
Grant (Ione, Calif.) is one of three past Rich Vogler Classic winners in this Thursday night’s field at Winchester along with Kody Swanson and Bobby Santos. Swanson is a three-time winner, having also captured the event twice in a Silver Crown car at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2016 and 2019 while Santos collected a pair in the champ cars at IRP in 2012 and 2017.

A VIEW FROM THE FRONT AT WINCHESTER
Santos (Franklin, Mass.) led 18 laps early in the 2021 Vogler Classic en route to a third-place result. He also finished in the third position during an Auto Value Super Sprint feature at Winchester in 2019. Current USAC Silver Crown point leader Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), the 2018 USAC National Midget champion, showed his pavement racing chops at the Winchester round in 2022, finishing an impressive second.
Meanwhile, C.J. Leary’s fourth place run in 2022 came after starting back in the 19th spot before advancing 15 positions in the main event. On his qualifying run, the Panhard bar broke at the exit of turn two on the Greenfield, Ind. driver’s second lap, and narrowly avoided outside wall contact. Leary also competed in a CRA Super Late Model at the track during the 2011 World Stock Car Festival 100 at the age of 15.
Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.) made her first run at Winchester an impressive one in 2022, recovering from a mid-race spin to round out the podium with a third-place finish. Kyle O’Gara (Beech Grove, Ind.) collected a career best USAC Silver Crown result of 5th in the 2021 Vogler Classic, earning hard charger honors after starting back in the 15th spot, then followed up with a 10th in 2022.
The Winchester experience of Travis Welpott (Pendleton, Ind.) goes back to the late 1990s with the USAC National Midgets. The 1993 UMRA TQ Midget champion and 2000 NAMARS Midget champion earned a career-best Silver Crown finish of 6th in the 2021 Vogler Classic and a solid 9th in 2022. Winchester, Indiana’s own Matt Goodnight finished 7th during his homecoming race on the banks in 2021.
Kyle Robbins (New Castle, Ind.), running on a limited basis with Silver Crown series this year, was an 8th place finisher in his first Winchester visit in 2021 as well his second appearance in 2022. Derek Bischak's first Winchester Speedway open wheel racing experience came in 2021 with a 9th place finish in Silver Crown action, then bested that performance with a 6th in 2022. The 2019 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year from Angola, Ind. had previously finished in the top-five of a SUPERPRO stock car race at Winchester in 2007.
Mike McVetta (Grafton, Ohio) made his first career Silver Crown start at Winchester in 2021. His best career performance with the series came in his following start at Winchester, where he scored a 7th after starting 14th. At Winchester in 2013, McVetta set the supermodified track record of 13.801 seconds in qualifying, then won his heat race and finished second in that afternoon’s feature.

SEEKING A WINCHESTER BREAKTHROUGH
Nathan Byrd (Goodyear, Ariz.), whose grandfather, Jonathan Byrd, owned midgets and Indy Cars driven by the race’s namesake, Rich Vogler, finished 11th in his 2022 run at Winchester. Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) returns to the high banks following a 13th place result at Winchester in 2022 and was among the first timers in the 2022 field.
Gregg Cory, the 2022 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year from Shelbyville, Ind. has Winchester experience that includes a 9th place finish with the NAMARS Midgets during the Vogler Classic at Winchester in 2000, plus a trio of top-five finishes with the ICAR Thunder Roadsters in 2019. He finished 15th with the Silver Crown car at Winchester in 2022.
Tom Paterson (Argos, Ind.) has contested winged sprint car action at Winchester with the Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series over the years, but last year, he made his first foray into the Silver Crown cars in 2022, finishing 20th. Meanwhile, Dave Berkheimer (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), a veteran of 35 Silver Crown starts, scored a best of 19th in his first Winchester experience in 2021.

FIRST LOOK WITH THE CROWN CARS
Dakoda Armstrong (New Castle, Ind.) has won on Winchester’s banks in ARCA Menards Series competition, scoring a major victory at the 2011 Winchester 200. His open wheel experience at Winchester includes an 8th place finish with the USAC National Sprint Cars in 2008.
Dakoda’s cousin, Caleb Armstrong (New Castle, Ind.), returns to Winchester for the first time since winning an Auto Value Super Sprint race at the track in 2019. He has taken over the reins of Legacy Autosport’s No. 19, which has been wheeled to a pair of podium finishes this season by driver Tyler Roahrig. Caleb’s most recent USAC start came in 2014 when he was named Silver Crown Rookie of the Year.
Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) has made a multitude of midget and sprint car starts at Winchester with USAC and NAMARS, but Thursday will mark his debut at the track in a Silver Crown machine. Davey Hamilton Jr. (Boise, Idaho) finished as the runner-up with the King of the Wing Sprint Car series at Winchester in 2016. Likewise, Billy Wease (Noblesville, Ind.) previously finished 16th with the King of the Wing Sprint Car series at Winchester in 2014.
Making their first appearances in competition of any kind at Winchester include the Kyle Steffens (St. Charles, Mo.), plus 2023 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contenders Trey Burke (Alvin, Texas), Wayne Johnson (Tuttle, Okla.) and Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.), who is driving the Sam Pierce Racing car that was driven to a 4th place finish at Winchester in 2021 by Aaron Pierce, and to a front row starting position in 2022 with Chris Windom.

THE RACE:

Thursday night's Rich Vogler Classic race occurs a day before the 33rd anniversary of Vogler’s passing in a 1990 USAC National Sprint Car event at Salem (Ind.) Speedway. Vogler captured nine USAC driving championships in his career: 1978-80-83-86-88 National Midget, 1980 & 89 National Sprint Car and 1984-85 Speedrome Regional Midget.
Vogler’s 171 USAC feature wins rank number one all-time: 96 National Midget, 35 National Sprint, 4 Silver Crown, 17 Regional Midget, 9 Western States Midget (2 were also National), 5 Arizona Midget (4 were also Western and 1 was also National), 8 Speedrome Midget and 4 Midget Special Event.

THE DETAILS:

Constructed in 1914, these 37-degree banks have hosted the most courageous and lionhearted drivers throughout the past century. This Thursday night, July 20, the bravest of the brave put their mental and physical focus to the test for 100 laps.
Spectator Gates Open at 4pm Eastern with practice starting at 5pm and qualifying at 7pm, followed by an autograph session, then pre-race ceremonies and the 100-lap main event. Crown Vics will also be in action.
General admission tickets are $30 for ages 13 & up. General admission tickets are free for ages 12 and under. Reserved seating is $35 for ages 13 & up and $15 for ages 12 & under. Pit passes are $35 for members and $40 for non-members. Tickets will be available at the gate on race day. You can also save $5 buying advance tickets online at https://usacracing.ticketspice.com/2023-elite-promotions.

The event can be watched live and on-demand at FloRacing | https://flosports.link/40w7aPg.

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2023 USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-256, 2-Kody Swanson-235, 3-Justin Grant-164, 4-Matt Westfall-163, 5-Mario Clouser-160, 6-Taylor Ferns-158, 7-Kaylee Bryson-158, 8-Tyler Roahrig-155, 9-Wayne Johnson-143, 10-Bobby Santos-140.

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2023 WINCHESTER USAC SILVER CROWN ENTRY LIST: (26 ENTRIES)

08 Kyle Steffens/St. Charles, MO (Gordon Steffens)
5 (R) Dakoda Armstrong/New Castle, IN (C & A Motorsports)
6 C.J. Leary/Greenfield, IN (Klatt Enterprises)
7 Kyle Robbins/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
11 (R) Trey Burke/Alvin, TX (Davey Hamilton Racing-SRG)
12 (R) Wayne Johnson/Tuttle, OK (Two C Racing)
14 Davey Hamilton Jr./Boise, ID (Davey Hamilton Racing-SRG)
18 Travis Welpott/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)
19 Caleb Armstrong/New Castle, IN (Legacy Autosport)
22 Logan Seavey/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing)
26 (R) Kaylee Bryson/Muskogee, OK (Sam Pierce)
31 Dave Berkheimer/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)
32 Gregg Cory/Shelbyville, IN (Williams Racing)
39 Matt Goodnight/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
60 Billy Wease/Noblesville, IN (Robert Wilson Racing)
67 Kyle O’Gara/Beech Grove, IN (SFHR Development)
77 Kody Swanson/Kingsburg, CA (Doran-Binks Racing)
81 Matt Westfall/Pleasant Hill, OH (BCR Group)
88 Nathan Byrd/Goodyear, AZ (Byrd Racing)
91 Justin Grant/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
92 Mario Clouser/Auburn, IL (Kazmark Motorsports)
94 Mike McVetta/Grafton OH (RAM Engineering)
98 Bobby Santos/Franklin, MA (DJ Racing)
111 Tom Paterson/Argos, IN (Tom Paterson)
131 Derek Bischak/Angola, IN (Derek Bischak)
555 Taylor Ferns/Shelby Township, MI (Taylor Ferns Racing)

(R) represents a USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contender