By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Toledo, Ohio (October 6, 2021)………The closest championship race in USAC Silver Crown history pays a visit to Ohio’s Toledo Speedway this Sunday afternoon, October 10, for the season finale, the Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic.
This isn’t your typical Sunday cruise, however. Sunday’s matinee serves as the final race of USAC’s 2021 Silver Crown season, with two drivers, Kody Swanson and Logan Seavey vying for the season title, separated by a single point.
Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) holds a one-point advantage in the standings entering the event. Swanson has won nearly everywhere on the Silver Crown trail, and the 1/2-mile paved oval of Toledo is near the forefront of his prolificity. He’s the only driver to have started all seven USAC Silver Crown events at Toledo and has yet to finish outside the top-four in any of those seven starts.
The five-time Silver Crown champ is the defending Toledo race winner and has won the Rollie Beale Classic on four occasions, in 2011, 2015, 2018 and 2019, all while leading 455 of the 800 laps ever run by Silver Crown cars at Toledo. He’s also won the pole four times in 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2019. His first, in 2011, remains the one-lap Silver Crown track record at Toledo – 14.809 sec. (121.548 mph avg.).
Meanwhile, Seavey’s incredible Rookie season in the Silver Crown cars has brought him to within one-point entering the finale. While Seavey’s prowess has undoubtedly been on the dirt, with two wins at Pennsylvania’s Selinsgrove Speedway and Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, he’s been solid on the pavement as well with a 7th and 8th in two appearances at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind., and an 11th on the high banks of Winchester (Ind.) Speedway. For the 2018 USAC National Midget champ, this will be his first career Toledo experience.
In the championship realm, it’s down to just those two, but it’s not going to be just a two-horse race at the front of the field with several top guns looking to position themselves as a race winner at Toledo.
Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.) is the only driver to win at Toledo Speedway in a USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Silver Crown car in his career, taking the checkered at the Rollie Beale Classic in 2017. A feather in his cap is being the most recent driver not named Kody Swanson to win with the series at Toledo. The pavement ace has finished inside the top-three in a Crown car at Toledo on four occasions, 3rd in 2012, 1st in 2017, 2nd in 2018 and 2nd again in 2019, in addition to a King of the Wing Sprint Car win there in 2017.
Brian Tyler (Parma, Mich.) has USAC winning experience at Toledo, capturing a USAC National Sprint Car round there during the 2001 season. Sunday will mark his first Silver Crown experience at Toledo since 2012, however. September’s winner on the Magic Mile at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds finished 6th at Toledo in both 2010 and 2011.
It will be yet another monumental Silver Crown start for Tyler who, along with Russ Gamester, will both be making their 201st career starts this Sunday, which will tie Dave Darland for number one on the all-time list. Gamester (Peru, Ind.) has made three Silver Crown starts with a best of 11th in 2019. He took 8th with the USAC National Sprint Cars at Toledo in 2011 and was 4th during an Auto Value Super Sprint feature there in 2019.
Reigning series champion Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) set quick time in qualifying at Toledo in 2018. He’s earned top-ten Toledo Silver Crown finishes with a 10th in both 2017 and 2018, then turned in a personal best 4th in 2019. His car is owned by race sponsor Ron Hemelgarn, who was also the winning owner for Buddy Lazier’s 1996 Indianapolis 500 entry. Dennis LaCava was with the team on its big day a quarter century ago and will be turning the wrenches for Grant at Toledo this Sunday.
Muncie, Indiana’s Aaron Pierce has Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown experience at Toledo and has finished in the top-five in three of his last four Toledo Silver Crown starts with a 5th in 2015 and 2018 and a best of 3rd in 2019. Pierce added an Auto Value Super Sprint feature score in 2019 at Toledo.
Shullsburg, Wisconsin’s David Byrne has been a consistent frontrunner at Toledo, and on the pavement, throughout his USAC Silver Crown career. Three of the one-time series winner’s Toledo starts have produced top-eight finishes with a best of 3rd in 2018 to go along with a 6th in 2015 and an 8th in 2017.
Austin Nemire, from nearby Sylvania, Ohio, made his first career Silver Crown start at Toledo in 2015, finishing 7th, then came back in 2018 with a solid 6th. Nemire has been consistently steady over the years at Toledo, taking a best finish of 6th in 2018, then was the hard charger in 2019, moving his way through the field to a 7th place finish after starting 20th.
Returning for Toledo Silver Crown starts are 2018 series Rookie of the Year, New Castle, Indiana’s Kyle Robbins (11th in 2018); Pendleton, Indiana’s Travis Welpott (9th in 2018); Winchester, Indiana’s Matt Goodnight (8th in 2018); Hillsborough, California’s Toni Breidinger (12th in 2018); Levittown, Pennsylvania’s Mike Haggenbottom (12th in 2019); and Shelby Township, Michigan’s Taylor Ferns who’s making her first series start at Toledo since finishing 15th in 2012.
The Rollie Beale Classic’s Rookie class includes Tyler Roahrig, who’s won big twice at Toledo, scoring Glass City 200 stock car wins at the track in 2016 and 2018. He finished 2nd in his only Silver Crown start in August at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Also on board for their first Toledo USAC Silver Crown starts are 2014 USAC Pavement Midget champion Kyle O’Gara (Beech Grove, Ind.); plus Davey Hamilton Jr., whose grandfather, Ken Hamilton, was the 1986 USAC Supermodified champion while his dad, Davey Hamilton, finished 6th in the Toledo Silver Crown race back in 2017.
Aiming to make their first USAC Silver Crown starts at Toledo are 2012 USAC D1 Midget titlist Jim Anderson (Joliet, Ill.) and Dave Berkheimer from the legendary racing town of Mechanicsburg, Pa., who both appeared at Toledo in 2019, but mechanical issues hindered them from starting the event.
Mike McVetta is one of two Ohio natives in Sunday’s field along with Nemire. McVetta (Wellington, Ohio) captured Midwest Supermodified Series (MSS) championships in 2018 and 2019 as well as the Buckeye Super Sprint title in 2011. He’s already won in Ohio this season, scoring an International Supermodified Association event at Sandusky Speedway. The Dick and Deborah Myers owned team sure knows the fast way around Toledo. Their winged sprint car possesses the fastest lap ever turned at Toledo, a 12.096 set in 2018.
The versatile Nathan Byrd (Goodyear, Ariz.) eyes his fourth career Silver Crown start on Sunday, and his first at Toledo while Jake Day (Abilene, Texas) will make the long haul from the Lone Star State to compete in his first Rollie Beale Classic.
Sunday’s event honors legendary Toledo native and 1973 USAC Sprint Car champion driver and also marks the eighth appearance by the series at Toledo since 2010.
Sunday’s Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic features the USAC Silver Crown National Championship plus R & M Recycling Late Model Sportsman and The Vault Factory Stocks.
The pits open at 8:30am ET and grandstands open at 11:15am with practice set for 11:30am. Racing will begin at 2pm.
Tickets are $25, kids 6-12 are $5, while ages 5 and under are free. Add $1 per ticket for online ticket purchases at http://www.toledospeedway.com/.
Sunday’s entire Toledo event can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3frPoW6.
ROLLIE BEALE CLASSIC ENTRY LIST:
1 ®KYLE O’GARA/Beech Grove, IN (SFHR Development)
6 ®TYLER ROAHRIG/Plymouth, IN (Klatt Enterprises)
7 KYLE ROBBINS/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
11 ®NATHAN BYRD/Goodyear, AZ (Hamilton-Byrd Racing)
14 DAVEY HAMILTON JR./Boise, ID (Hamilton-Byrd Racing)
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
18 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)
22 BOBBY SANTOS/Franklin, MA (DJ Racing)
24 MIKE HAGGENBOTTOM/Levittown, PA (John Haggenbottom)
26 AARON PIERCE/Muncie, IN (Sam Pierce)
31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)
39 MATT GOODNIGHT/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
40 DAVID BYRNE/Shullsburg, WI (Byrne Racing)
42 ®JAKE DAY/Abilene, TX (Jake Day)
51 RUSS GAMESTER/Peru, IN (Gamester Racing)
55 TAYLOR FERNS/Shelby Township, MI (Ferns Racing)
77 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Doran Enterprises)
80 TONI BREIDINGER/Hillsborough, CA (Breidinger Motorsports)
81 BRIAN TYLER/Parma, MI (BCR Group)
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
92 JIM ANDERSON/Joliet, IL (Kazmark Motorsports)
94 ®MIKE MCVETTA/Grafton OH (Dick & Deborah Myers)
222 ®LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports)
® USAC Silver Crown National Championship Rookie of the Year Contender