SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Nathan Byrd and Davey Hamilton Jr. will pilot a pair of cars under the Davey Hamilton Racing during the seven USAC Silver Crown Series pavement races this season.
Byrd’s ride will be in conjunction with Byrd Racing. Hamilton will be in the seat of the DHR/Classic Corvettes machine partnered with team co-entrant Lenny Puglio.
Byrd enters the season with Davey Hamilton Racing after competing as a Silver Crown rookie last year, where he made four series starts.
“Compared to the speed of a midget, Silver Crown racing involves a different sort of finesse in which you have to do things slowly but very precisely,” Byrd explained. “You have to learn how to not get loose midway through the corner when getting back on the throttle and being really smooth on entry so you can carry as much speed through the corner as possible. Those parts were definitely learning curves for me.”
Byrd saw a myriad of experiences, including a grinding, sliding upside down crash early in May’s race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, then experienced a fuel leak at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in July, followed by getting caught up in an incident when a car spun out in front of him in August at IRP, a simple case of just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Following strategy he learned by watching frontrunners like Kody Swanson and Bobby Santos throughout the year, Byrd learned how to take in the pace of a 100-lap Silver Crown race, which helped him to a career-best sixth-place finish in October’s season finale at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway.
Byrd’s effort was helped by the addition of Hamilton as his teammate for the Toledo event. Making his first series start in four years, Hamilton charged from his 14th starting spot to finish fifth, spurring the confidence for more of the same in the new year.
In a last minute deal with a last minute assemblage of crewmembers, the team bonded quickly with each other and with an Eagle chassis that Hamilton estimates is 15 years old. Everything went smooth for Hamilton. He even escaped an early race accident that saw him make contact with the rear bumper of a spinning Kyle Robbins on the front straightaway that jerked the steering wheel out of his hands.
“I’ve always enjoyed the Silver Crown series,” Hamilton said. “After not being in a car for four years, I definitely surprised myself and surprised some people by the fact that we finished inside the top-five.”
With a schedule that also includes 28 sprint car races and a full slate of Stadium Super Truck events, Hamilton is looking forward to progressing in the Silver Crown series as well with visions set on his first top-three result and an eye on even more.
“To come out with a top-five and to run competitive lap times, I think we’re in a good spot going into next season now with a little bit of seat time,” Hamilton said. “Our goal is to win. I know how hard it is to run with Swanson, Santos and those guys, but I think with more seat time and how that car handled, and how good the crew and I worked together, I do think it’s possible.”
Like Byrd, Hamilton looks forward to having a teammate to work alongside, to give and take feedback, which will enhance their chances at earning solid results night-in, night-out throughout the year.
“Nathan was by himself for the most part last year,” Hamilton explained. “When he had somebody to run with at Toledo, it made him better. He had something to work with and somebody to learn off of. I’m excited to work with Nathan again this year where we can both learn together and grow and see how things end up at the end of the year.”
Byrd agrees, especially now with a year’s worth of experience under his belt.
“I think we have a really good baseline to work off, and from there, it’s just going to be small tweaks,” Byrd said. “I don’t think there’s going to be anything drastically different. A lot of it is going to come down to the racecraft – the way I approach the race and how I manage my tires.”