CLERMONT, Ind. — Wheeling the familiar Nolen Racing machine, Kody Swanson led all 40 laps to win Saturday night’s Night Before The 500 USAC sprint car special event at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Swanson earned $10,000 for the victory one night after a disappointing defeat in Silver Crown action at the .686-mile track.
“It was actually pretty rough, I tell you,” Swanson said. “Last night was actually tough because we put so much into the Silver Crown Series and the effort there. We had one whale of a race car last night.”
Swanson was Saturday’s fastest qualifier in both the midget and sprint car divisions, which set him up for a spot on the pole in both of the night’s features with the races lining up “straight up” based on qualifying time.
A win this past June at LOR in Must See Racing sprint car competition came with the team’s trusty V-6 engine. This time, the otherwise traditional V-8 was under the hood of the Nolen Racing/KECO Coatings – Goodridge – K & N Filters/Beast/Tranter Chevy.
“It’s the first time we’ve had this engine in this race car,” Swanson revealed. “We’re a V-6 team but we didn’t know if we’d be able to hold everybody off here in a big race like this with it.”
Right off the bat, the first lap spelled doom for eighth starting Nick Hamilton and fifth starting Ken Schrader, who was making his first sprint car start at LOR in his long, illustrious career. Both drivers and their cars wound up against the SAFER barrier in turn two, putting a sudden conclusion to each of their nights.
Early on, outside front row starter Aaron Pierce presented a steady challenge to Swanson as he kept pace to the inside of Swanson throughout the duration of the opening circuit. Swanson reached the start/finish line first at the end of lap one by a mere nose over Pierce, who promptly fell into line behind Swanson and gave chase to the five-time Silver Crown titlist.
Throughout the middle stages, Swanson’s main culprit was the slew of traffic that lie ahead of him. As Swanson darted around and in-between the cars at the tail end of the lead lap, second-running Pierce inched his way closer to Swanson to within a couple car lengths away from the lead.
By lap 25, Swanson was in the clear as he ripped by the last remaining tail-end lead lap car, for the time being, that stood in his path to victory. Once clear, Swanson’s field of vision only involved one car within his sight that shared the same straightaway as himself, providing him ample time to open his lead back up and distance himself from Pierce.
It was easy-peasy from that point forward as Swanson was switching to glide to lead the remainder, and the entirety, of the feature event for his second LOR win in the past two nights, and third of the year.
“Today, they rallied and gave us a great sprint car,” Swanson remarked. “I appreciate the effort of everyone that’s a part of this Nolen Racing team. We do this in memory of Gene (Nolen), and I’m so thankful for his son, Greg, who’s carrying the torch for us and doing a great job of running a race team. These guys are first class and I’m thankful to be racing for them.”
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