OREGON, Wis. – One year ago, the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series tackled Madison Int’l Speedway for the first time.
This Friday the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series returns to Madison Int’l Speedway for the Bytec Dairyland 100.
Kody Swanson was victorious in the inaugural Dairyland 100 a year ago. In fact, in the six most recent instances in which Swanson made his first Silver Crown start at a particular pavement track, he’s finished in the top-five: second-place finishes at both Michigan’s Berlin Raceway and Ohio’s Toledo Speedway in 2010; a second at Gateway Motorsports Park in Illinois and a fifth at Pikes Peak Int’l Raceway in Colorado in 2013; followed by wins at Salem (Ind.) Speedway in 2016 and Madison in 2018. At both Toledo and Salem, he followed up with a victory in his very next appearance there.
At Madison last year, Swanson started second, led the first five, then retook control just before midway to lead the remaining 53 laps and score the victory. The Kingsburg, Calif., native leads the standings coming in as the winningest series driver of all-time pursues an unprecedented fifth series title. The Nolen Racing team he’s competing with this year had two cars entered last year, finishing fifth with Chris Windom and sixth with Jerry Coons Jr.
Justin Grant was the driver who took the lead from Swanson early in the going after starting from the pole position in last year’s Dairyland 100. The Ione, Calif., driver led 42 laps of the event and settled for third at the checkered. This season, he’s been the only driver to keep Swanson in check in the championship battle, six points out of the lead, and is the only driver to finish in the top four in every race this season. He’s garnered two third-place finishes and three fourth-place runs in five starts.
David Byrne, third in the standings, is the lone Wisconsin native to enter the event. The Shullsburg driver owns the one-lap track record at Madison in a wing sprint car and was the hard charger in last year’s Dairyland 100. After qualifying eighth originally, his time was disallowed, forcing him to start from the rear of the field. He proceeded to charge all the way to a seventh-place finish.
Along with Swanson, Eric Gordon is the only other driver entered for Friday’s race who has been victorious in USAC Silver Crown competition in the state of Wisconsin. In 1990, the Fortville, Ind., driver was a winner at The Milwaukee Mile, out-dueling the likes of Stan Fox and Dave Blaney to capture his first and, thus far, only Silver Crown win. Last year at Madison he qualified third, but experienced brake problems 17 laps in, forcing him to drop out and take a 19th place finish.
Mike Haggenbottom is riding a wave coming into Madiso as he sits fifth in the series standings after finishing a career-high fourth on the dirt at Williams Grove Speedway in his home state of Pennsylvania. The Levittown, Pa., driver finished 15th last year at Madison, which at the time, was just his second career Silver Crown appearance on pavement.
Others on the entry list for the Bytec Dairyland 100 include Austin Nemire, Bobby Santos, Kevin Thomas Jr., Kyle Hamilton, Windom, Jim Anderson, Travis Welpott, Matt Goodnight, Kyle Robbins, Derek Bischak, Toni Breidinger, Patrick Lawson, Russ Gamester, Brian Gerster, Chris Dyson and Gody Gerhardt.
Madison Int’l Speedway has hosted a smattering of USAC races over the decades. The National Sprint Cars have competed twice on the pavement, with Larry Dickson taking the top honors in 1970 and Dave Steele capturing the checkered flag in 1997. In 1987, the track was covered with dirt with Kevin Huntley picking up the first of his five USAC National Sprint Car victories.
The National Midgets have raced at Madison on five occasions with the legendary Mel Kenyon sweeping all three in 1969 and Gary Bettenhausen winning the following year in 1970. Jimmy McCune picked up the midget portion of the USAC doubleheader in 1997.