NEWTON, Iowa – Five-time and defending USAC Silver Crown Series champion Kody Swanson will make his ARCA Menards Series debut for Chad Bryant Racing in Saturday afternoon’s Shore Lunch 150 at Iowa Speedway.
A three-time and reigning Little 500 winner, Swanson will drive the No. 22 Fatheadz Eyewear Ford Fusion and is eager to add success in the ARCA Menards Series to an already impressive motorsports resume.
Following his first USAC Silver Crown Series championship in 2014, Swanson had the opportunity to test an ARCA car at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in preseason testing, but Saturday’s race will be the first in the series’ composite-style race car.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity for me,” said Swanson. “I’m excited to take this next leap in my racing career and compete in the ARCA Menards Series at Iowa Speedway with a winning-race team.”
Longtime marketing partner Fatheadz Eyewear has expanded its relationship with Swanson for his ARCA debut in a primary role.
Founded in March 2004 under the direction of Rico Elmore, Fatheadz first started by catering to men with heads too large to fit in standard width sunglasses comfortably.
Fatheadz has now grown to encompass five distinct lines of eyewear of all sizes for both men and women. With more than 1,000 unique product offerings, innovation continues to drive Fatheadz’s customer-centric business.
“We are excited to extend and grow our relationship with Kody this year as he embarks on this next opportunity in the ARCA Menards Series,” said Rico Elmore, founder and CEO of Fatheadz Inc. “Kody has been a great ambassador of our brands for the past few years and we’re excited to be associated again with him as he transitions into stock car racing with Chad Bryant Racing.”
While Swanson, 32, does not have any prior stock car experience at Iowa, the Kingsburg, Calif. native has turned laps at the .875-mile race track in open-wheel competition.
A 29-time race winner in Silver Crown competition, Swanson also holds the track record at Iowa Speedway in Silver Crown action, as well as two-second place efforts and a third.
While the vehicles are quite different, Swanson is hoping that some of his prior track knowledge will pay some dividends during his ARCA debut weekend.
“I’m sure that our only hour of practice will go by really fast,” added Swanson, who resides near Indianapolis, Ind. “I’m thankful to have some experience with this racetrack and hoping that background will help me feel comfortable in my new surroundings and transition to the different characteristics of these ARCA Menards cars more quickly.”
ARCA will not hold General Tire pole qualifying this weekend, so Swanson will likely start by owners’ points – putting him just outside the top-10 to start.
With the 150-lap race being broken into three segments and competition cautions at the end of or near laps 50 and 100, Swanson realizes if his car isn’t to his liking at the start, veteran crew chief Paul Andrews will have the ability to adjust on it.
“With no qualifying, it definitely changes your perspective. Looking at the positives, with a short practice schedule already, we can continue to work through that entire session on getting me comfortable in the car, and what I should expect in the race,” Swanson noted. “I hope that I can become familiar enough with the car to provide Paul with good information, and we can continue to improve every chance we get.
“I’d like to get this team a win on Saturday – that’s what every racer sets out to do, but I realize that I will have an awful lot to learn in a short amount of time. I am thankful to have this opportunity with the Chad Bryant Racing team, and I know they are familiar with victory lane in the ARCA Menards Series and Iowa Speedway,” he added. “I hope I can adapt quickly, continue to improve with each lap, and can be in a good position to contend for a win for this team.
“I am extremely grateful for the effort Chad Bryant and Rico Elmore have made to give me an opportunity like this, and thankful for everyone who has joined us to help make it happen.”
Team owner Chad Bryant is ecstatic to work with a driver of Swanson’s potential and be the platform for his first stock car start.
“To bring Kody onboard to our Chad Bryant Racing team to Iowa is huge,” offered Bryant. “He comes from an open-wheel discipline, but I think he will capitalize on it tremendously this weekend in Iowa.
“He’s a deeply knowledgeable driver and wants to perform, not only for the team, but his partners too. Paul and the guys have been working hard on his race car and I cannot wait to get to the race track and see what kind of performance he can put together,” Bryant continued. “I think we can contend for a win.”
In addition to Fatheadz, Rosewood Machine & Tool, Lyons Transportation, Matthews Family Racers, Beyond Designs and Radio Hospital will serve as additional sponsors on the No. 22 Ford Fusion for the 14th ARCA race held at Iowa.