Three-time USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series champion
Kody Swanson of Kingsburg, California.
(Dave Olson Photo)
SWANSON & DePALMA RETURN TO THE TOP
WITH 2017 USAC SILVER CROWN TITLE
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
When one sits and begins to dig into the numbers that Kody Swanson has put up during his four-year tenure with DePalma Motorsports’ USAC Silver Crown program, the figures jump off the page.
Of course, 2017’s series title was his third driver championship, which equaled him with fellow Californians Bud Kaeding and Jimmy Sills as the only drivers to earn three series titles.
His 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th victories moved him past some tall cotton on the way to second-place on the series’ all-time win list at the conclusion of the 2017 season: J.J. Yeley, then Dave Steele and, finally, Brian Tyler.
Thirteen drivers have won on both the pavement and dirt in a Silver Crown car during a single season. One driver has done it twice (Yeley in 1998 & 2003). But, get this. Swanson has accomplished this feat in three-straight seasons!
Prior to 2014, only Rickey Hood (1985), Jack Hewitt (1986), Yeley (2003) and Steele (2005) had won four Silver Crown races in a single season, but never more than once. Since that point, Swanson has won at least that many in three of the last four seasons.
During the season, he led all drivers in every major statistical category with 241 laps led, 9 top-fives, 10 top-tens in 10 starts and 5 ProSource Fast Qualifying times.
Of all the accolades, numbers, statistics, facts and figures you can conjure up, the most rewarding number to the humble and appreciative Swanson is four. The four represents the number of car owner titles the DePalma family has earned in Swanson’s four years at the helm of the Radio Hospital-sponsored No. 63.
“I might be more proud and excited to be a part of that record than I am anything else,” Swanson said regarding the team that tied East/Stewart Racing’s four title run from 2002-05. “I’ve always taken my role as a driver to help my team succeed. To have been part of an incredible last four seasons and accomplish what we have together is very special to me.”
It was the latest into the season Swanson had gone without a victory since 2014. Okay, so it was the third race when he reached victory lane for the first time in 2017. But there was no inkling of a hitch in his giddy-up as he took control of the points by race two and never lost grip with victories following at Indiana’s Lucas Oil Raceway, Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway, Salem (Ind.) Speedway and at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds.
Throughout Silver Crown’s history, many drivers and teams seem to have spurts of excellence in which they are the dominant force within the series for multiple years before another team, another driver, claims the throne.
Drivers capturing back-to-back titles and never returning to the top of the standings include Hewitt (1986-87), Yeley (2002-03), Steele (04-05), Levi Jones (2010-11) and Bobby East (2012-13). Previously, only Bud Kaeding was able to garner three in a four-year span from 2006-09 while Sills took three of seven between 1990-96.
After Chris Windom rose to the top in 2016 with a narrow defeat of Swanson by a five-point margin, Swanson and the DePalmas easily could’ve packed it in and settled for the success they had already attained, but that didn’t interest this group who marched on with the same approach and the same laser-sharp focus that was ingrained in their approach to every challenge they encountered.
“It was tough on all of us to miss it in 2016, but maybe even more because it was so close,” Swanson admits. “This year, I don’t think we really refocused on any changes. For the most part, I think our approach was the same. This team does a great job on preparing for each race as it comes, and I think that helps us to do the best we can at every race on the schedule.”
With a remarkable 16 wins in four seasons, that would be enough to rewrite most of the pages in Silver Crown’s record book. Yet, Swanson and the DePalmas have gone a step further by merely writing their own book, doing it their own way that has seen them rise to incredible heights with much more lying ahead on the horizon.
“It has been an incredible journey to this point,” Swanson realizes. “When you think about just what has taken place with our team these past few years, it has been almost hard to believe. There are times when the magnitude of it all sinks in, but I really try not to think about it too much. I’m definitely grateful to have made it this far, but I’m planning to keep working hard at it and see what the future holds.”
The USAC Silver Crown, along with all of USAC’s National Series schedules, will be released Thursday morning, December 7.