ANDERSON, Ind. – California driver Kody Swanson claimed his second Pay Less Little 500 victory in three years after a thrilling three-car battle over the final 50 circuits at Anderson Speedway on Saturday.
The race unfolded with 61 laps remaining with Shane Hollingsworth holding a one-lap lead over Swanson and Jacob Wilson, both on fresher rubber. The two drivers were back on the lead lap with 48 laps remaining and were rapidly closing on Hollingsworth.
Swanson made the ultimate race winning move when he got inside of Wilson on lap 470 and took the lead from Hollingsworth on lap 478.
It was the first Little 500 win for long time car owner Gene Nolen.
Wilson, Hollingsworth, Mickey Kempgens and Scotty Hampton rounded out the top five.
Swanson completed a sweep of two Silver Crown races and the Pay Less Little 500 presented by UAW-GM in three days.
“Nobody gave up,” Swanson said after losing several laps early in the race. “I didn’t do my job in the middle stint, car was loose.
“I’m not going to spin somebody out,” he said. “I thought he could keep it running.”
Swanson brought Hoffman Racing their first Little 500 win two years ago and said he couldn’t believe he accomplished the feat a second time for Nolen.
Wilson said the team made their first stop late in the first half.
“We were good,” he said. “My brother gave me a great setup. We had nothing for them at the end.”
Hollingsworth said the team was out of tires at the finish.
“We had what we had,” he said. “I was good in the second stint and Kody was great at the finish.
“I’m so happy for Gene (Nolen) placing two cars in the top three,” said Hollingsworth of the Nolen Racing team and his teammate Swanson.
Wilson on fresher rubber after making his secondary pit stop on lap 303 was able to run down leader Swanson.
Wilson got back on the lead serial on lap 327 and was turning laps at three tenths of a second than Swanson, who had not made his second stop.
The lead change came on lap 382 when Wilson got inside of Swanson in turn three. Shane Hollingsworth who led 60 laps got back on the lead lap the 379th circuit after pitting on lap 303.
When Kody Swanson spun on lap 411 in a surprise move Wilson surrendered the lead to Hollingsworth, who was the only car on the lead lap.
Bobby Santos III started third in the field and ran in the top five until he spun on lap 300 making contact with the outside retaining wall bringing his night to an early end.
Aaron Pierce dominated the first half of the race but a pit stop on lap 241 while leading cost him four laps to the leader.
Pierce took the lead from pole sitter Davey Hamilton Jr. on lap 27 with an inside pass on the front straight. The two ran at the front of the field until the mandatory pit stop before lap 250.
Hamilton’s race ended on lap 254 with an apparent mechanical problem.
Three potential contenders for the win all lost numerous laps when JoJo Helberg, Caleb Armstrong and Shane Cottle got together in turn four on lap 95 caused when Helberg spun.
Nine-time Little 500 champion Eric Gordon, returning after a five year absence, saw his night come to an end with a mechanical issue in the Hoffman Auto Racing entry on lap 171 after an unscheduled green flag pit stop.
Kody Swanson, Jacob Wilson, Shane Hollingsworth, Mickey Kempgens, Scotty Hampton, Chris Windom, Brian Gerster, Caleb Armstrong, Kenny Schrader, Shane Cottle, Troy DeCaire, Travis Welpott, C.J. Leary, Garrett Green, Tyler Roahrig, Aaron Pierce, JoJo Helberg, Bobby Santos III, Isaac Chappel, Shane Butler, Ryan Litt, Davey Hamilton Jr., Chris Neuenschwander, Kyle O’Gara, Eric Gordon, Johnny Gilbertson, Kevin Thomas Jr., Jerry Coons Jr., John Inman, Tanner Swanson, Jimmy McCune, Tony Main, Brian Tyler.