BROWNSBURG, Ind. — It’ll be a new look, a new place and a whole new Hoosier Hundred experience when the USAC Silver Crown National Championship arrives at the .686-mile paved oval of Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park on Friday night, May 26.
History lives on in this brand new era of the Hoosier Hundred, an event which has been born anew after a three-year hiatus. The first 65 editions of the Hoosier Hundred were held at the nearby Indiana State Fairgrounds dirt mile, and this marks both the 66th running as well as the 70th anniversary of the inaugural event in 1953, predating the formation of USAC.
This year, the passion to win the Hoosier Hundred remains unwavering. The quest is 146 laps. The road is 146 miles. Thirty-five brave souls will chase after the $25,000 top prize and the glory of being called a Hoosier Hundred winner. Some things never change.
Bobby Santos enters as the defending winner of the May round of USAC Silver Crown competition at IRP, and with 14 USAC-sanctioned wins at IRP, stands just one behind Tracy Hines on the track’s all-time win list.
Here are a few interesting story lines to keep in mind this Friday night:
LONG DISTANCE RUNAROUND
The 146-lap, 100-mile event is a rarity of a race of this distance for the series. In fact, only 11 events in the 53-year history of USAC Silver Crown racing have feature a distance of more than 100 laps. Four such events have been held at IRP over the years, all between 1985 and 1988.
Rick Hood (1985), Ken Schrader (1986), Jeff Bloom (1987) and Bruce Field (1988) all picked up victories in what was a 150-lap event.
The last three 100-plus-lap USAC Silver Crown races were all won by drivers in this Friday night’s field despite the fact that one hasn’t taken place in more than a decade. Tanner Swanson scored a 150-lap victory at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway in 2010. Later that same season, Jerry Coons Jr. punctuated his season with a 150-lap triumph at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway.
A year later at Toledo, in 2011, it was all Kody Swanson in another 150-lapper.
KODY & TANNER
Speaking of Kody and Tanner Swanson, the two brothers share the lead in all-time career USAC Silver Crown wins at IRP with seven apiece entering Friday’s race. At IRP in USAC Silver Crown competition alone, the brothers have finished first and second in the same race on an incredible seven occasions.
Tanner owns the upper hand as the winner of four of the seven, but Kody has captured a win in each of the last three occurrences.
Ironically, the brothers’ first one-two Silver Crown finish came during one of the most recent 150-plus lap races, at Berlin in 2010.
The $25,000 winner’s share for Friday’s Hoosier Hundred is among the most lucrative in series history. During the “New Generation” car era, on three instances in 2007, a driver pocketed $26,067: Tracy Hines (Homestead-Miami Speedway) and J.J. Yeley (Chicagoland Speedway & Kansas Speedway).
Jimmy Sills was the first to break the $26,000 mark with a Hoosier Hundred victory at the Indy Mile in 1994, still the richest dirt race held in series history. The next best dirt payout arrived with Mat Neely’s $25,800 sunrise 6 a.m. victory at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in 2006.
Dave Steele collected $25,260 and $25,025, respectively, for successive Copper World Classic scores at the Phoenix International Raceway in 2002 and 2003. In 2006 with the “New Generation” car, Bud Kaeding deposited $25,900 for his win at Kentucky Speedway, while Aaron Pierce took home $25,867 at both Chicagoland and Kansas.
Brian Tyler grabbed $25,100 for his 2006 season opening triumph at Homestead. In 2003, J.J. Yeley earned a $14,550 reward for his Hoosier Hundred win, which was boosted by a $50,000 bonus after winning both the Indy Mile and the previous night’s Silver Crown showdown at IRP.
THE POINTS, ESSENTIALLY SPEAKING
Literally, seven-time USAC Silver Crown champ Kody Swanson is the point leader after taking second at Belleville and possesses a three-point lead over Brady Bacon entering Friday night’s race.
With a schedule consisting only of dirt races at press time, second, third and fourth place in the current standings can practically be taken out of the championship equation. That being Belleville winner Bacon, Chase Stockon and Shane Cottle.
Essentially, that gives Swanson a nice head start in the title race when you take into account only the full-timers. In that realm, Swanson owns a 15-point lead over Logan Seavey followed by Matt Westfall and Kaylee Bryson with Trey Burke rounding out the top-five. Swanson and Seavey have finished one-two in the series standings in each of the past two seasons.
BIGGEST FIELD IN 18 YEARS
The largest car count for a pavement USAC Silver Crown event in the past 18 years will arrive at IRP this Friday night.
Thirty-five entries are set to compete in the battle, the most for a pavement event in the series since August of 2005, also at IRP. That night, 46 cars competed in the event which was won by Bobby East. Friday’s main event is slated to start 32 cars with 24 being locked in through qualifying and eight more through a 12-lap last chance qualifying race.