Swanson Sweeps Vogler Classic At Winchester


Kody Swanson (right) celebrates his USAC Silver Crown Series win at Winchester Speedway with wife Jordan. (David Nearpass photo)

WINCHESTER, Ind. – As he often has through the years, seven-time USAC Silver Crown Series champion Kody Swanson made winning look easy Sunday at Winchester Speedway.

Swanson ruled the high-banked half-mile from start to finish, sweeping the entirety of the 33rd running of the Rich Vogler Classic.

He was fastest in practice, earned the pole position in qualifying, and then led all 100 laps of the feature en route to his third straight Winchester Silver Crown victory.

It was his record-extending 42nd career Silver Crown win and his fifth in the Vogler Classic across two different venues: Indianapolis Raceway Park (2016, ’19) and Winchester (2022-’24).

“The Rich Vogler Classic sure means an awful lot to me,” Swanson said. “It means even more if you can see the FloRacing documentary and see all the little details about him. I hate that Eleanor (Rich Vogler’s mother) couldn’t be here, but I’m glad to know she’s checking in on us. Plus, my grandfather turned 88 on Friday and he’s always been a good luck charm for me on his birthday weekend.

“It’s a special weekend, for sure.”

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Dakoda Armstrong joined Swanson on the front row for the start, but couldn’t keep pace with Silver Crown’s all-time kingpin as Swanson quickly opened up a full second advantage over the field.

That gap was erased on lap 16, when 12th-place Travis Welpott pounded the outside wall in turns three and four, but quickly reestablished after the ensuing restart.

Armstrong kept Swanson honest up to the halfway point, but had heartbreak hit under caution at lap 58, when he was called to the pit area for a left-rear wheel nut that had come off the car.

The wheel never detached, but after losing his track position, Armstrong could never recover and finished 14th.

That allowed Bobby Santos III and C.J. Leary to assume top-three running positions behind Swanson, but neither one had anything for the Kingsburg, Calif., native.

Swanson was perfect through traffic in the closing stages and took the checkered flag with a sizable 5.554-second lead over the rest of the field, reigning in dominant fashion once again.

Though he may have seemed untouchable throughout the day, Swanson admitted he had his doubts when Santos moved into the runner-up spot behind him.

“These races are hard because not everybody shows their hand all the time,” Swanson explained. “Part of that is trying to figure out where you really stand. Bobby Santos comes through the field and he’s so good at it. C.J. came with him and Dakoda was really strong too. There are a bunch of good cars in this series, so you’re never really know [who has what] until the end.”

Notably, Sunday marked Swanson’s third straight USAC-sanctioned victory on Winchester’s high banks, tying him with Ryan Newman, who won three USAC races in a row (one sprint car and two midget victories) at Winchester in 1999.

“That’s really special because I remember how good Ryan was and how strong he was here,” Swanson said. “When I was growing up and getting into racing, I took a year of mechanical engineering because Ryan Newman did. He made his career by winning big races. He won on the high banks; he had a degree and he understood how to communicate with crew chiefs. I wanted to try and do that to see if I could make it very far.

“I sure am thankful that I have made it all the way to USAC, especially the Silver Crown division.”

Santos crossed the line second, his second runner-up finish in a row at Winchester and his third career podium finish at the historic track.

“We’ve just got to get our car a little bit better here,” Santos noted. “We’re close but we’ve just got to keep working on it. C.J. raced me clean there and they were probably a little better than we were at the end, and I was probably holding them up a little bit.”

Leary was third for the legendary Klatt Enterprises team, marking his second such result to open the Silver Crown season and his best-ever Winchester finish.

“I had a spirited battle there with Bobby and I think we might’ve been a little bit better, but I just got sloppy at the end,” Leary admitted. “We were struggling on the restart and had a little bit of a stumble. It took me three or four laps to run him back down and get our tires hot. I was just going for it there at the end but didn’t get it done.”

Justin Grant and Taylor Ferns closed the top five, followed by defending Silver Crown champion Logan Seavey in sixth.

Rookie Jackson Macenko had a solid run as well, rebounding for 10th place after a frustrating season opener at Toledo in which he spun on lap 32 and finished 14th.

Swanson leaves Winchester with a 21-point lead in the early season standings over Leary.

The USAC Silver Crown Series season continues May 17-18 at the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks, with a day of practice Friday followed by a 50-lap feature Saturday night.

USAC’s Silver Crown competitors will share the Huncovsky Classic card with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series at the half-mile Kansas dirt track.

The results:

Qualifying (best of two laps): 1. Kody Swanson, 77, Doran/Binks-14.665; 2. Dakoda Armstrong, 5, C & A-14.958; 3. Taylor Ferns, 555, Ferns-15.000; 4. Logan Seavey, 22, Rice/Abacus-15.009; 5. Bobby Santos, 98, DJ-15.070; 6. C.J. Leary, 6, Klatt-15.133; 7. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-15.205; 8. Derek Bischak, 131, Bischak-15.235; 9. Trey Burke, 60, Legacy/Wilson-15.304; 10. Mario Clouser, 92, Kazmark-15.365; 11. Kaylee Bryson, 26, Pierce-15.390; 12. Kyle Robbins, 7, KR-15.442; 13. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott-15.449; 14. Davey Hamilton Jr., 19, Legacy/Wilson-15.489; 15. Jackson Macenko, 124, Hayes/Bohanon-15.597; 16. Trey Osborne, 81, BCR-15.695; 17. Tyler Roahrig, 41, Newman-15.825; 18. Kyle Steffens, 08, Steffens-15.870; 19. Nathan Byrd, 40, Legacy/Wilson-16.349; 20. Gregg Cory, 32, Williams/Cory-16.730; 21. Dave Berkheimer, 31, Berkheimer-17.696; 22. Nathan Moore, 48, Thomas/Moore-17.909.

Feature (100 laps): 1. Kody Swanson (1), 2. Bobby Santos (5), 3. C.J. Leary (6), 4. Justin Grant (7), 5. Taylor Ferns (3), 6. Logan Seavey (4), 7. Davey Hamilton Jr. (14), 8. Kyle Robbins (12), 9. Trey Osborne (16), 10. Jackson Macenko (15), 11. Nathan Byrd (19), 12. Kaylee Bryson (11), 13. Gregg Cory (20), 14. Dakoda Armstrong (2), 15. Kyle Steffens (18), 16. Derek Bischak (8), 17. Mario Clouser (10), 18. Trey Burke (9), 19. Travis Welpott (13), 20. Dave Berkheimer (21), 21. Nathan Moore (22), 22. Tyler Roahrig (17).

Lap Leader(s): Kody Swanson 1-100.

Time of Race: 36:25.647

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.