100 On The Banks: Winchester hosts return of USAC Silver Crown this week
Justin Grant had to muster every ounce of grit, determination and moxie on the final lap of Winchester, Indiana Speedway’s USAC Silver Crown debut in 2021.
2022 USAC Silver Crown at Winchester Speedway
Driving this point home is the fact that the driver chasing Grant on the green-white checkered dash to the finish, Kody Swanson, set his fastest lap of the race on the 100th and final lap in his pursuit of victory.
Simultaneously, Grant responded to the bell by also setting his fastest lap of the entire race on the 100th and final lap to keep Swanson behind him.
At the finish line, Grant finished just a tiny half-car length ahead of Swanson in a dramatic end to the heavyweight slugfest on the series’ first visit to the 37-degree angled three-story oval, providing the finish closest to the Silver Season set of the crown – a margin of 0.050 seconds.
Now the full winner of the USAC silver crown for the first time on pavement, the triumph marked Grant’s first of any kind on asphalt since a BCRA Midget score in 2006 at Madera Speedway in California.
“It’s a bit surreal for me to be a winner at Winchester,” Grant said. “As a kid watching the races here on TV, thinking, ‘Boy, this is the most awful thing I’ve ever seen’, I would have thought it was out of the realm of possibility. growing up. I was a kid dreaming of racing USAC, and coming here and winning means the world to me, and there’s no better group of guys I could do that with.”
This Thursday night, the 2020 Series champion is aiming to become the first repeat winner of the Rich Vogler Classic presented by The Pallet Builder since Tracy Hines as a midget in the 2012 and 2013 editions at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Grant is one of three former Rich Vogler Classic winners in Thursday’s peloton at Winchester, along with Swanson and Bobby Santos, who unsurprisingly all made up the podium at last year’s event. Swanson won the event twice in a Silver Crown car at IRP in 2016 and 2019, while Santos won a pair in champion cars at IRP in 2012 and 2017.
Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.), the all-time king of the USAC silver crown in terms of championships, wins and quick qualifying times, finished second to Grant a year ago after leading the first four rounds. His run to pole in qualifying was majestic as he knocked home with a time of 14.459 seconds, which translates to an average speed of 124.490 mph. He also has a pair of Winchester USAC Sprint Car starts to his name – 10th in 2010 and fourth in 2011.
Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.) led 18 laps early in last year’s Vogler Classic en route to a third-place finish. He also finished third in an Auto Value Super Sprint feature at Winchester in 2019. Santos’ first of three USAC Sprint starts at Winchester came in 2011, with his best result being sixth in 2011.
Matt Goodnight of Winchester, Indiana finished seventh in his 2021 Shores Comeback Race. He also finished fifth with the King of the Wing Sprint Car Series at Winchester in 2016.
Kyle O’Gara (Beech Grove, Indiana) earned a career-best USAC Silver Crown finish with fifth place at the 2021 Vogler Classic, earning hard charger honors after starting in 15th place . The recent USAC Midget Special Event winner at IRP won his qualifying race, led the first seven laps and finished sixth with the Auto Value Super Sprints in 2019, without the wing, at Winchester in 2019.
Travis Welpott’s (Pendleton, Indiana) Winchester experience dates back to the late 1990s with the USAC National Midgets. The 1993 UMRA TQ Midget Champion and 2000 NAMARS Midget Champion achieved a career-best Silver Crown finish by finishing sixth at last year’s Vogler Classic. Welpott also finished 11th and 20th with the USAC Midgets at Winchester in 1998, as well as 17th, 13th and 11th in 1999.
Kyle Robbins (New Castle, Indiana) returns to Silver Crown action following recent engine trouble. The 2018 Silver Crown top rookie finished eighth on his first visit to Winchester in 2021.
Derek Bischak’s first open-wheel racing experience at Winchester Speedway came in 2021 with a ninth-place finish in Silver Crown action. The 2019 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year had previously finished in the top 5 of a stock car race in the late 2000s.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), the 2018 USAC Midget National Champion, finished 11th in the Winchester round of his 2021 Rookie of the Year season. Nathan Byrd (Goodyear, Ariz.), whose grandfather owned midgets and Indy cars driven by race namesake Rich Vogler, finished 14th in his 2021 race.
A rider who beats the pack in terms of USAC experience at Winchester is Eric Gordon (Greenfield, Indiana), who had a great run in the top 5 in 2021, before overheating ruled him out after completing just 37 laps. .
Gordon’s Winchester USAC career dates back to 1989. Since then, he has made 49 career USAC Sprint starts and three career USAC Midget starts at the track. Two of those 49 USAC Sprint races resulted in winning performances (1991 and 1995), which are among his 35 top-10s and 23 top-5s there. This includes four second places, six thirds, five quarters and six fifths.
Its owner, Brad Armstrong, also has winning experience at Winchester, taking a USAC Sprint victory there as a driver in 1998.
Mike McVetta (Grafton, Ohio) enters Thursday’s race where he made his 2021 Silver Crown debut, finishing 17th. Winchester’s previous experience is quite impressive for the pavement specialist, who won the 2018 and 2019 Midwest Supermodified Series (MSS) championships. At Winchester in 2013, McVetta set the supermodified track record of 13.801 seconds in qualifying, then won his heat race and finished second in the afternoon event.
Meanwhile, Dave Berkheimer (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), a veteran of 25 Silver Crown starts, finished 19th in his first experience at Winchester in 2021.
USAC Silver Crown points leader CJ Leary (Greenfield, Indiana) is among those making his freewheeling debut at Winchester on Thursday.
.@CJ_Leary_ recently earned his first USAC Silver Crown victory on pavement in his 8th start on asphalt.
Now, we take an in-depth look at how long it took the best of the USAC Silver Crown to find success on the pavement ahead of Thursday’s race at @FastestHalfMile.
Story: https://t.co/fLeRhwsmOf pic.twitter.com/0zhmsbg0da
— USAC Race (@USACNation) July 18, 2022
Leary competed in a CRA Super Late Model on the track during the 2011 World Stock Car Festival 100 when he was 15 years old. In his final race with the Silver Crown Series in late June, the 2019 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Champion won his first career USAC Pavement Main Event at Madison International Speedway in Wisconsin.
Brian Tyler (Parma, Mich.) earned two USAC National Sprint Car victories at Winchester in 1997 and 1998, both on the heels of USAC National Sprint Car titles in 1996 and 1997. Tyler made his USAC debut in Winchester in 1992 during an ESPN televised race sporting a mohawk!
Silver Crown Premiers
Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.) is the highest-ranked woman in USAC Silver Crown history, earning a third-place finish on the pavement at IRP last May. However, this will mark his first race at Winchester in an open-wheel car.
Top Rookie of the Year contender Gregg Cory (Shelbyville, Indiana), 2006 Paragon Speedway Speed Car Champion, will also be on hand at Winchester for the first time in a silver crown, but his experience includes ninth place with the NAMARS Midgets at the Vogler Classic in Winchester in 2000.
Tom Paterson (Argos, Indiana) has competed in winged sprint car action at Winchester with the Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series over the years, but is a Silver Crown rookie this year, along with other series debutants at Winchester, Mario Clouser (Auburn, Illinois) and Jake Day (Abilene, Texas).
Thursday night’s Rich Vogler Classic takes place on the 32nd anniversary of Vogler’s death at a 1990 USAC National Sprint Car event at Salem, Indiana, Speedway.
Vogler won nine USAC driving championships during his career: 1978, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988 National Midget, 1980 and 1989 National Sprint Car, and 1984 and 1985 Speedrome Regional Midget.
Vogler’s 171 USAC yardage earns the No. 1 all-time rank: 96 National Midget, 35 National Sprint, 4 Silver Crown, 17 Regional Midget, nine Western States Midget (two were also National), five Arizona Midget (four were also Western, and one was also National), eight Speedrome Midgets and four Special Event Midgets.
Built in 1914, these 37 degree banks have hosted the bravest and bravest drivers of the last century.
This Thursday, the bravest of the brave will put their mental and physical focus to the test for 100 laps, a distance a USAC event in Winchester hasn’t covered in half a century.
The Rich Vogler Classic presented by The Pallet Builder, featuring the USAC Silver Crown National Championship, will take center stage on Thursday.
Unloading and parking of the USAC Silver Crown platform will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Vintage car parking will be in the exhibition area from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Pits will open at 2:00 p.m., with a sweep at 3:40 p.m. Spectator doors will open at 4:00 p.m. Vintage cars will be on the track from 4:10 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: 45h
Silver Crown practice will begin at 5 p.m. EDT. Vintage cars and the Thunder Roadster qualifying race will arrive at the circuit from 6-6:40 p.m. The Silver Crown qualifiers will begin at 7 p.m., followed by the Thunder Roadster feature from 7:40 p.m. to 7:50 p.m.
The USAC Silver Crown cars will hit the track at 8 p.m., with an autograph session on the front stretch from 8:10 p.m. to 8:25 p.m., followed by pre-race ceremonies at 8:30 p.m., and the 100-lap Silver Crown. main event at 8:45 p.m.
General admission tickets are $28 for ages 13 and up. General admission tickets are free for ages 12 and under. Passes are $35 for members and $40 for non-members. There are no reserved places. All tickets will be available at the door on race day.
The event can be watched live and on demand on FloRacing. look here.