Column By: NICHOLAS FILLMAN / RPW – TERRE HAUTE, IN – This past Sunday saw the second event on the 2018 USAC Silver Crown Series, and the first for the Series’ dirt cars, as they took to the legendary Terre Haute Action Track, in the annual “Sumar Classic” 100 lap event.
Justin Grant would wind up with capturing the checkered flag after a hard fought 100 laps that would see five different leaders over the course of the event, with plenty of drama.
Grant would have to fend off late attacks by CJ Leary, Kody Swanson, and Shane Cottle to grab his first ever “Sumar Classic” victory. Grant would be the first driver in the field to find the rubber groove in the feature event ultimately pulling away from the field until late cautions would bring the field together. Kody Swanson was able to get by Grant who would appear to have nothing for Swanson, until late issues would force Swanson to regroup and come through the field once again.
Grant and his Hemelgarn Racing number 91 team would ultimately end up placing their Speedway Ford Powered, DRC Chassis entry in victory lane for Grant’s first ever “Sumar Classic” victory, and second ever USAC Silver Crown win.
Defending USAC Silver Crown Series Champion, Kody Swanson would end up in the second spot, but not with out an extremely challenging evening. Swanson would end up blowing an engine in the DePalma Motorsports 63 entry during the second session of practice. Swanson and team, would ultimately change engines, but miss qualifying and have to start dead last in the qualifying race. Swanson would end up second in the qualifier, and start 18th in the 100 lap main.
Swanson had work himself into the lead by lap 77, but unfortunately due to a racing incident Shane Cottle would make contact with Swanson leaving him with a flat left rear tire. Swanson would storm back through the field to collect a second place finish, closing quickly on the leader Grant.
Swanson was not the only driver to suffer engine issues, as 2016 Champion Chris Windom, would suffer an engine failure in the same practice season as Swanson, but would not be able to run the event in his new Nolen Racing entry. Luckily for Windom, Bill Rose offered his car to Windom for the event, and Windom would ultimately end up with a strong 4th place run.
Unfortunate crashes would occur for drivers Joss Moffatt, Jacob Wilson, and Casey Shuman. Moffatt suffered a spectacular flip on lap 46. Wilson and Shuman were collected in a second crash later on in the event.
A number of rookie drivers made their first starts in the USAC Silver Crown series like: Mike Haggenbottom, Austin Mundie, Coleman Gulick, and Chris Dyson.
Mundie, Haggenbottom, and Gulick would all qualify for the main event, but unfortunately Mundie and Gulick were involved in an early accident that left them with 23rd and 24th place finishes respectively.
Mike Haggenbottom, the experienced veteran of the TSRS, now MASS 305 sprint cars, and the URC 360 Sprint cars, would make the feature event. Haggenbottom and his team ran a solid race keeping their nose clean and running at a pace the team felt comfortable with, and were rewarded with a respectable 11th place finish.
Trans-AM series driver, and sports car and endurance race regular, Chris Dyson was on hand with his brand new Beast Chassis car, prepared and maintained by Sean Michael. Dyson has made previous starts in wingless sprint cars, and midgets and narrowly missed qualifying for the main event after briefly holding down a transfer spot in the qualifying feature event.
Dyson will look to add as many races to his schedule as possible in with his teams midget and sprint car, which will include events with the USAC Eastern Sprints and Midgets. Look for an exciting announcement to come soon regarding the Dyson ride for the 2018 USAC Eastern Storm.
The USAC Silver Crown series saw a great deal of equal competition among engine manufactures as Ford, Chevy, Two Mopars, and a Toyota were all in the top five finishing positions, in that order. In total: 21 Chevy’s, 4 Toyota’s, 2 Ford’s and 2 Mopar’s were in the 29 car field.
Following the two events so far this season, Kody Swanson and Justin Grant are tied at the top of the points standings with Chris Windom in a close third just 27 points back. Nolen Racing teammate Jerry Coons Jr in 4th, and rookie Travis Welpott in 5th. ISM Raceway winner Bobby Santos and his DJ Racing team only compete in the Asphalt Series which finds them in a tie for 8th position.
Coming up next for the Silver Crown series, they return to the pavement on Friday May 4th at the Toledo Speedway in Toledo, Ohio where last season Bobby Santos collected the victory over the 15 car field.