ANDERSON, Ind. — Kody Swanson inherited the lead when misfortune struck the leader and led the final 26 laps to win the 68th running of the Pay Less Little 500 at Anderson Speedway.
Swanson, the first driver to win the classic from California, had to hold off Dave Steele over the final 19 circuits for the win on Saturday by a margin of .784-seconds.
Swanson started 14th in the 33-car field and by lap 100 was running inside the top ten.
Following his final pit stop Swanson turned it up a notch in the Hoffman Auto Racing entry on lap 380 he was running third to leader Bobby Santos III and Jerry Coons Jr.
Santos, who elected not to pit on lap 380 with the rest of the leaders, finally made his final stop on lap 444, but not only lost the lead to Caleb Armstrong but was two laps down to the leaders.
Armstrong, who started on the pole, appeared to be heading to his first victory when he tangled with a lapped car on the front straight, ending his night.
That put Swanson on the point with Steele and Coons in close pursuit.
At the checkers Swanson claimed the win where he immediately gave the record crowd a celebratory fist pump.
“It’s incredible to win the Little 500,” Swanson said.
Asked about his charge after the final pit stop, Swanson said he had to take advantage of any opportunity as he sliced through lapped traffic.
“When you’re that close to winning the Little 500, you have to take the opportunities as they come,” he said.
Steele, who was runner-up for the second consecutive year, said the two cars were evenly matched.
“We were running the same lap times,” he said. “We had a good run tonight.”
Kyle Hamilton and Santos rounded out the top five.
Chris Neuenschwander took the early lead from the inside of the front row and led the first ten laps before he was passed by Armstrong.
Armstrong gave up the lead on lap 189 when he made the first of two pit stops giving the lead to Santos.
Santos stayed in front until making his final.
Santos caught a break on lap 206 during a red flag by pitting and not losing any laps.
The first half of the race saw four of the six former winners that started the race knocked out of competition.
The attrition started on lap 64 when Brian Tyler was involved in an incident in turn two with Doug Dietsch.
Two former champions, including defending champion Chris Windom were knocked from competition in separate incidents. Jeff Bloom made contact with the outside retaining wall on the front straight and seconds later Windom came to a stop against the turn one wall.
Jacob Wilson was involved in a three-car incident on the back straight on lap 197 when Travis Welpott spun and the cars of Wilson and Donnie Adams Jr. hit the inside retaining wall.