By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Brownsburg, Indiana (October 11, 2023)………This is it. This is the one. This is the finale.
The stage is set for this Saturday’s USAC Silver Crown National Championship season closer on the .686-mile paved oval of Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg, Ind. on October 14 during Howard Companies Championship Saturday.
A championship is on the line between Logan Seavey and Kody Swanson. Seavey’s bid for a first career USAC Silver Crown championship comes down to the wire for the third year in a row. Meanwhile, Swanson’s goal of an unprecedented eighth career USAC Silver Crown title, and third in a row, is on the line.
Some nerves are wracked but confident. Some nerves are calm but sleep leading into race day may not come as easy as it once did.
Who will thrive and who will shine? This season goes to 11 and race number 11 of the 2023 campaign will answer all our lingering questions.
For now, all we can do is speculate, pontificate and await. Here’s six storylines leading into the 2023 USAC Silver Crown championship finale on Saturday at IRP.
SEAVEY VS. SWANSON – ROUND THREE
Just 16 points separate Logan Seavey and Kody Swanson heading into the final bout of the USAC Silver Crown championship season this Saturday at IRP. Regardless of what Swanson accomplishes throughout the day, if Seavey finishes fourth or better in the main event, the title is his.
A maximum of 76 points are up for grabs with three points apiece available for the fastest qualifier and the driver leading the most laps. The feature winner takes 70.
It’s the third consecutive season the championship race has come down to the fellow Californians on the pavement. Entering 2021’s finale, Swanson held a one-point lead over Seavey. Swanson proceeded to win while Seavey finished 10th with Swanson claiming the title by 34 markers.
At the 2022 closer, Seavey entered with a one-point lead, but was plagued by mechanical issues that caused his ride to drop out with a broken oil pump belt while running third. Swanson’s fourth place result coupled with Seavey’s 20th gave Swanson a 41-point edge in the final tally.
TAKING OWNERSHIP OF THE TITLE
Not only is the driver championship up for grabs, so too are each driver’s respective teams. Seavey’s Rice Motorsports team captured the USAC Silver Crown entrant title in 2021 and finished as the runner-up with Seavey in 2022. Once again, this pairing is on top entering Saturday’s finale.
This year, the team has a bit of a different makeup than usual. Abacus Racing, who Seavey currently drives for in USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship competition, partnered with Rice Motorsports on the Silver Crown side this year. Abacus is seeking its first USAC National entrant championship and could double up with multiple championships alongside Seavey in 2023.
Doran Racing will attempt to defend its Silver Crown entrant championship from a year ago as Doran-Dyson Racing. The Doran team also found a new partner for 2023 in Dan Binks to form the Doran-Binks Racing outfit.
For Binks, it’s his first attempt at Silver Crown glory after previously serving as the crew chief for Corvette Racing’s factory sports car team throughout a nearly two decade span. Under Binks’ direction, the team won the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times and numerous IMSA championships. Doran, meanwhile, has won the Rolex 24 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway as a crew chief, a team member, a team manager, a car owner and even as a car manufacturer.
THE IRP STRANGLEHOLD IS MAKING HISTORY
Three names synonymous with success at IRP over much of the past two decades are, without a doubt, Kody Swanson, Tanner Swanson and Bobby Santos. All three could also find themselves at the top of the IRP USAC record book on Saturday.
Kody Swanson and Tanner Swanson share many distinctions throughout their USAC Silver Crown careers. Among the brothers’ claims to fame are their share of the all-time lead in Silver Crown race victories at IRP with seven apiece.
Tanner evened the score on this weekend a year ago, passing Kody with 36 laps to go to grab the victory. Furthermore, the two Swansons also hold the top-two spots in terms of Silver Crown poles at IRP with Kody at eight and Tanner at seven.
Santos (Franklin, Mass.) owns 15 victories under the USAC banner at IRP, and with a 16th on Saturday, would become the all-time winningest driver with the series at IRP, a spot he’s currently tied for with Tracy Hines.
Santos’ sixth career USAC Silver Crown victory came at IRP this past spring, and a seventh on Saturday would tie him for the all-time lead on the list.
GAMESTER BACK TO #1 ALL-TIME
In the grand ol’ 53-year history of USAC Silver Crown competition, no driver owns more career series starts than Russ Gamester and Brian Tyler.
After Saturday’s race at IRP, that distinction could involve just Gamester (Peru, Ind.) who is primed to take over the lead in the category as he prepares to make his 213th career series start since making his series debut in 1989.
Saturday would also mark his 30th career IRP Silver Crown start dating back to 1991, making him the first driver to reach that mark at the west side Indy oval. Among the 1989 USAC National Midget champion’s six career USAC Silver Crown wins is a daytime victory on a Sunday afternoon at IRP in 2000.
LAST CHANCE TO DANCE IN ‘23
For many outside the title fight, Saturday’s IRP 100-lapper presents one final opportunity to make a lasting mark on the 2023 season.
Several consistent frontrunners have yet to win on the trail this year, but you can fully expect them to be in contention when the time comes to get down to business this weekend.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) stands fourth in points and owns a pair of runner-up results this year, including on the pavement of Ohio’s Toledo Speedway and on the dirt at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois. In fact, Leary finished second at IRP on this weekend in 2022.
Derek Bischak (Angola, Ind.) has taken it to a whole new level on the Silver Crown circuit in 2023, already grabbing four top-five finishes (all on the pavement) as he searches for his first career series triumph. This year alone, he can count a pair of third-place results at Winchester and Toledo, plus a fourth at IRP and a 5th at WWT.
In three career IRP Silver Crown starts, Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) hasn’t finished outside the top-nine. His best result of the 2023 season came on the pavement at Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway with a fourth.
Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.) earned a career-best finish of third at IRP in 2022. Her best result of the 2023 campaign also came at IRP when she garnered a fifth in May.
Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) looks to cement her status as the series’ Rookie of the Year as she aims to best her top season finishes of 6th at Toledo, 7th at Winchester and 7th at WWT Raceway. Fellow Rookie Trey Burke (Alvin, Texas) will aim to finish a solid first series season inside the top-10 of the standings with a nice run on Saturday at IRP following a recent sixth place result at WWT.
DOUBLE & TRIPLE-DIPPERS AT IRP
Saturday will be a madhouse with three divisions all competing in full programs at IRP – USAC Silver Crown, the 500 Sprint Car tour and the Browns Oil Service Champion Midget Twin 25s.
Not only will the pits be spilling over with cars, it’ll be bustling with drivers pulling double and even triple duty as they constantly jump from one car to another throughout the day.
Four drivers will be competing in on all three divisions on Saturday: Kody Swanson, Tanner Swanson, Bobby Santos and Kyle O’Gara, all of whom already find themselves in the win column at IRP.
Meanwhile, 11 more drivers in the Silver Crown lineup will be in the seat of at least one other car at IRP. The list includes Trey Burke (Sprint), Nathan Byrd (Midget), Mario Clouser (Midget), Dakoda Armstrong (Sprint), Taylor Ferns (Sprint), Bryan Gossel (Sprint), Justin Grant (Midget), Tom Paterson (Sprint), Kyle Robbins (Sprint), Logan Seavey (Midget) and Travis Welpott (Sprint).
Championship Saturday features the USAC Silver Crown National Championship, the 500 Sprint Car Tour and Pavement Midgets.
Spectator gates open at noon eastern, followed by 500 Sprint Car Tour Practice at 12:30, Pavement Midget Practice at 12:55, USAC Silver Crown Practice at 1:20, 500 Sprint Car Tour Practice at 1:50, Pavement Midget Practice at 2:15, USAC Silver Crown Practice at 2:40, 500 Sprint Car Tour Qualifying at 3:10, Pavement Midget Qualifying at 3:40, USAC Silver Crown Qualifying at 4:10, Opening Ceremonies at 4:45, 500 Sprint Car Tour Feature at 5:05, Pavement Midget Feature at 6:05 and the USAC Silver Crown Feature at 7:05. Times are subject to change. All times are eastern.
Advance tickets are on sale now at www.raceIRP.com. Tickets will also be on sale at the gate on race day.
Saturday’s event will be aired live on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/40w7aPg.
SATURDAY’S IRP USAC SILVER CROWN ENTRY LIST:
02 TANNER SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Bowman Racing)
06 BRYAN GOSSEL/Fort Collins, CO (Bryan Gossel)
08 KYLE STEFFENS/St. Charles, MO (Gordon Steffens)
2 PATRICK LAWSON/Edwardsville, IL (Patrick Lawson)
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)
14 (R) TANNER BERRYHILL/Bixby, OK (Davey Hamilton Racing-SRG)
18 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)
19 DAVEY HAMILTON JR./Boise, ID (Legacy Autosport)
22 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports-Abacus Racing)
26 (R) KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Sam Pierce Racing)
31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Dave Berkheimer)
32 (R) GREGG CORY/Shelbyville, IN (Williams Racing)
51 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (Gamester Racing)
60 NATHAN BYRD/Goodyear, AZ (Robert Wilson Racing)
67 KYLE O’GARA/Beech Grove, IN (SFHR Development)
77 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Doran-Binks Racing)
81 (R) TREY OSBORNE/Columbus, OH (BCR Group)
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
USAC SILVER CROWN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-621, 2-Kody Swanson-605, 3-Justin Grant-497, 4-C.J. Leary-404, 5-Mario Clouser-395, 6-Kaylee Bryson-395, 7-Taylor Ferns-389, 8-Matt Westfall-382, 9-Bobby Santos-315, 10-Trey Burke-307.