Tim Kennedy

KENNEDY: Oval Nationals Part II

LOS ANGELES — Personable Jake Swanson relocated from Anaheim, Calif., to Indiana last year with his wife Jessica to race full time. 

The couple bought a home in Danville, Ind., and he set up a shop to maintain the sprint car owned by Arizonans John Drau and Mike Burkhart. The former No. 34az, a 2019 DRC, was renumbered No. 21az this season. Jake and Jessica drove the team rig from Indiana to Perris Auto Speedway for the 25th Oval Nationals. 

Swanson won the Thursday 30-lap feature for his first USAC national victory in his 84th start. His winning pass at the finish line was sensational. He won by .010 seconds. He had eight runner-up finishes this season and was not content to settle for another. 

Swanson entered the PAS tripleheader seventh in the USAC National standings. 

“I was going to win it or flip it down the front straight trying for my first national win,” he said of his winning pass of Kevin Thomas Jr. He thanked Thomas for leaving him just enough room on the outside to pass. Thomas said Jake has been running hard and up front all year (he led 85 laps in 2021) so it’s good he got his first win close to his home. It was probably the closest race I’ve ever been in. I’ll try to win tomorrow.” 

Swanson said his paternal grandfather died in March, 2020 and dedicated his popular triumph to him. “He’s looking down smiling.” 

• Nine USAC National sprint car drivers present at PAS showed how racing sprint cars more than 40 times a year is a major advantage. 

USAC-CRA drivers race about 20 times a season and did not place in the top five in any of the three Oval Nationals A-mains on their home track. It was also noticeable that local drivers such as Swanson and Max Adams, plus Brody Roa and Eddie Tafoya Jr. who have raced at Indiana Sprint Week, have enhanced their racing skills. 

• Austin Williams lost a transfer spot in Saturday’s main event because of engine problems with Tom Sertich’s No. 92 sprinter.

Sertich said the problem was loss of compression. It’s a shame the Sertich 92, which supports the entire USAC-CRA series every season, was not in the biggest and most lucrative local race of the year. Asked why he uses No. 92 on his sprinters, Sertich said because he bought his first sprint car in 1992. 

• Danny Faria Jr. told us he’s hanging up his helmet.

Faria, who raced his own No. 17v at Perris, said: “This is my final race. It’s time.” 

Faria said he will keep his two sprinters (a Maxim and A.R.T backup) for his son Dawson, a 17-year-old high school student in Tulare. 

Faria said he really appreciated Brody Roa after Saturday’s A main coming over to his pit and saying he enjoyed racing with him and wishing him well. 

• PAS chief announcer Scott Daloisio wrapped up his mic duties Saturday after the final awards were presented. He said, “Thanks to all my helpers in the booth (including USAC media ace Richie Murray) and to Don Kazarian, the best promoter in all of racing. Thanks to the USAC officials for running the smoothest Oval Nationals there has ever been.” Fans agreed. 

• The No. 2 of Jack Yeley had versatile Chase Johnson, 26, driving. Johnson, from Nor Cal, is a personable, talented driver who is making huge strides in his racing career in California and the Midwest. He raced midgets, winged and non-wing sprint cars and even a USAC Silver Crown car for Matt Goodnight this season. Johnson said he has rides for both the midget and sprint car portions of the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Vetntura Raceway.

• The No. 38 of owner/builder Glenn Crossno is a 2010 Viper he built at his ITI firm a decade ago. Arizonan Tye Mihocko raced it at PAS. 

Crosssno, the son of 1960s-70s USAC midget and CRA sprint car driver Dale Crossno, from San Bernardino, has not raced much in recent years. Glenn retired and moved from So Cal to Chino Valley, Arizona near Prescott. 

• Longtime PAS solo starter Kevin Winters had an assistant starter in the stand during the 2021 Oval Nationals because he is retiring after the 2021 season. 

The new PAS starter in 2022 will be Steve Russell and he was getting his feet wet so to speak during the Oval Nationals. Kevin and his wife may be moving out of state in 2022 (possibly to chilly Minnesota). He will be missed at the PAS.

error: Content is protected !!