Swanson’s Unprecedented Fourth Silver Crown Title

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Swanson's Unprecedented Fourth
Kody Swanson, the 2018 USAC Silver Crown champion. (Gene Crucean photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – Unprecedented is a word not often heard in racing. After all, if someone has been around for a while, they’ve likely seen records that seem untouchable.

When Kody Swanson and the DePalma Motorsports teamed up in 2013, they basically created their own record book, one of which the rest of the USAC Silver Crown Series will be chasing for years and years.

Following the 2018 USAC Silver Crown finale at Eldora Speedway, Swanson completed his fourth USAC Silver Crown season championship in one of the most dominant seasons of all, capturing the title by a grand total of 82 points.

Not once during the season did the Kingsburg, Calif., native trail in the points race.

It was Aug. 18 before Swanson even had a race where he finished outside of the top two. Prior to that, he began the season with two-straight runner-up finishes – two races in which he led a chunk of late in the going.

Then, he proceeded to reel off five victories in a row during a midsummer stretch that saw him win four times on the pavement and once on the dirt, on half-mile speedways and on one-mile tracks.

Those wins ranged from Ohio’s Toledo Speedway and the Indiana State Fairgrounds to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Wisconsin’s Madison Int’l Speedway and Indiana’s Salem Speedway.

Regardless of where the series ran, the No. 63 car was normally up front.

The five-in-a-row win streak broke a long-standing, 32-year-old record of four-straight Silver Crown wins set by Jack Hewitt, who also made car No. 63 wrenched by Bob Hampshire the dominant force in the sport a generation before.

Sometimes it seems that as fast as the world moves, some things seem to stay the same.

The last of those five wins, at Salem, was the ultimate. Kody drove to his 24th career victory in the Silver Crown Champ Car Series, overtaking Hewitt for the top spot on the all-time win list. Hewitt had previously held the record for just shy of three decades.

All the personal accolades are nice, but the one that Kody was the proudest of is the record achieved for DePalma Motorsports. The Lima, Ohio-based family gave him a shot six years earlier when his career was at a crossroads. In 2018, they won their fifth-straight title.

As crazy as it seems now, Kody was still seen as primarily a “pavement specialist” at the time and was tabbed as the driver for the blacktop, while he searched for rides on the dirt to prove himself as a capable shoe.

He recorded a second, fifth and another second in the first three pavement outings for DePalma during that initial season together in 2013.

For 2014, Kody was handed the keys to both the pavement and dirt rides and didn’t miss a beat after that, reeling off 21 wins in five years and four driver’s championships.

Each of the five years Kody was the full-time driver for the DePalma family, they won the Silver Crown owner’s title. It’s another feat not seen before in the series, snapping the series record for streaking set by Bob East/Tony Stewart Racing from 2002 to 2005 as well as Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, which grabbed four in a row between 2010 and 2013.

It’s a season-long goal for Kody and the DePalma’s every year, and Kody took a lot of pride in the chance to drive that car for that team and to be able to make history with them.

“When I got the chance to drive for them the first time, their goal was to try to win the championship or run as high as they could in the points,” Swanson recalled. “I was just pavement only at the time. But the following year, I got the chance to run for them full-time and we won our first title together – my first and theirs. It’s so special to get five-in-a-row for them to become the first in history to do that.

“It’s great to be a part of this, but I try so hard to do a good job for this team. To be a part of this team record is as special as anything else to me.”

Kyle Robbins, a longtime Indiana sprint car racing veteran, claimed the 2018 USAC Silver Crown Series Rookie of the Year Award for his sixth-place finish in the final standings.

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