Doran Binks’ Swanson Off to a Great Start

[Rich Forman Photo]

[Rich Forman Photo]

Swanson Sets New Track Record to Win Pole And Finishes a Solid Second at Belleville In Doran Binks Racing’s Mission Foods No. 77 In USAC Silver Crown Season Opener

by Linda Mansfield

BELLEVILLE, Kan., May 21 — Kody Swanson and Doran Binks Racing got the 2023 USAC Silver Crown season off to a great start Saturday at the Belleville High Banks by setting a new track record to win the pole, setting the fastest lap of the race, leading the most laps, and finishing second in the 50-lap main event with the No. 77 sponsored by Mission Foods and Glenn Farms.

It was an impressive performance on the unique, high-banked half-mile dirt track as Swanson began the pursuit of his eighth series title. He is the winningest driver in the history of USAC’s top series and the defending champion. After Saturday’s season opener he leads the point standings over Brady Bacon, 73 to 70.

The Lebanon, Ohio-based team brought a Maxim chassis that Swanson used to drive for DePalma Motorsports out of retirement, and the Indianapolis-based driver led the first 27 laps of the race with his old car, fitted with a Bob Hampshire Chevy engine. By lap 13 he had a whopping 4.018-second lead over the second-place runner at the time, Justin Grant.

That huge advantage dropped a bit when he had trouble threading his way around some cars he was lapping, but he still had nearly a 2-second lead over Grant when the first yellow waved on lap 21. That caution was needed after the sixth-place driver, Mario Clouser, had a flat right-rear tire and clipped the fourth-place driver, Wayne Johnson, causing Johnson to stop in Turn 3.

Yellow flag laps didn’t count, and Swanson got a good restart and started to rebuild his advantage. At the halfway point he was nearly a second ahead of Grant.

However, Grant was able to cut his deficit to 0.453 seconds two laps later, and Grant took the lead with a slider to the inside in Turn 4 on lap 28 that continued through Turn 2 with Grant on the outside

Four laps later Bacon got under Swanson for second in Turn 2 on lap 32. Bacon then set his sights on Grant, while Swanson held off C.J. Leary to maintain third

Grant led from laps 28 through 42, but Bacon got around him on lap 43 to become the race’s third leader.

Grant was able to stay close to Bacon. Grant was on the low side and Bacon was high on lap 46 while they were both navigating lapped traffic and doing sliders. Grant’s slider worked best for a few seconds and he took the lead. Grant came up the track a bit following his slider and Bacon was powering down the frontstretch after his when room ran out. They came together while they were side by side, with Grant flipping hard into the catch fence close to Turn 1 to bring out a red flag. Luckily he wasn’t hurt.

That elevated Swanson back into second place behind Bacon for the restart, but after only one lap the yellow came out again when Leary, who was fourth, and Mitchel Moles, who was fifth, tangled in Turn 2 and Leary stopped low on the track. Both were unable to continue.

Bacon was able to get a good restart and he remained in front for the last three laps to post a 3.250-second victory over Swanson. Swanson was 1.567 seconds ahead of the third-place finisher, Chase Stockon, who started 13th and was the hard charger. Shane Cottle finished fourth and Logan Seavey finished fifth in the 24-car field.

Swanson set the fastest lap of the race while he was leading on lap seven with a time of 18.152 seconds. Leary set the second-fastest lap of the race followed by Grant, Bacon and Johnson.

Earlier in the day Swanson set a new track record of 16.823 seconds in winning his 42nd career pole in this series, extending his record in that category.

“It was a monumental effort,” Swanson said afterwards. “We led early. The track slicked off, and at the end we didn’t have anything for him. Congrats to Brady and Sean Michael for their win. I’m just thankful to be part of this team and to be surrounded by all these great people, and for the support of Mission Foods and Glenn Farms.”

The race, which was the first USAC Silver Crown race at this particular track in eight years, was streamed live by Flo Racing.

Doran Binks Racing and Swanson now have a monumental week ahead of them, as they tackle the Hoosier Hundred USAC Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg, Ind., on Friday, May 26 followed by the Lucas Oil Little 500 presented by UAW 500 Sprint Car Tour race at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway the next day, Saturday, May 27.

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