Swanson, Kimmel big winners at Salem Speedway Saturday night


SALEM, Ind. — Kingsburg, Calif.’s Kody Swanson led wire to wire to win the 60th running of the Visit Scott County Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial presented by the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Saturday night at Salem Speedway Fueled by the Hoosier Lottery. He also held his own in the history books, tying Pancho Carter’s record of winning four-consecutive James/O’Connor Memorials, a feat Carter set between 1974 and ’77.

Swanson, who won the pole position in the No. 20 Gene Nolen Racing entry, jumped into the top spot at the start and never relinquished the lead. The only thing that gave his competition a chance was a few caution flags that allowed the field to bunch up behind the eventual winner. It didn’t matter, however; Swanson was able to drive away as necessary to secure a record 28th USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series victory in his 100th series start. The 4-time Silver Crown champion also padded his points lead heading to next Saturday’s race on the Springfield (Ill.) Mile Dirt.

Franklin, Massachusetts’ Bobby Santos finished 10 lengths away in second with Aaron Pierce (Muncie, Ind.) coming home third. Danville, Indiana’s Kyle Hamilton finished fourth with Shullsburg, Wisconsin’s David Byrne trailing in fifth. Justin Grant, Eric Gordon, Derek Bischak, James Davison and Kyle Robbins completed the top-10 finishers, respectively. Davison, from Melbourne, Australia, finished 12th in the 2019 Indianapolis 500 back in May.

Will Kimmel made headlines in the Lucas Oil Great American Stocks division, winning the 50-lap feature event in the No. 69 E3 Spark Plugs-T&T Construction Chevrolet. The third-generation Salem racer from Sellersburg, Ind. also took over the championship points lead from Owensboro, Kentucky’s Heath Helton who was involved in a crash in turn two. Helton was not injured but unable to complete the race.

Kimmel, who won his fourth consecutive pole award, started seventh by inversion and utilized the inside groove to move into second by lap three. Then he gave race leader Kyle Hadley a nudge in turn three causing Hadley’s machine to wiggle just enough to allow Kimmel to make the inside pass for the lead. From there, Kimmel held off Huntingburg, Indiana’s Todd Kempf to win his second consecutive feature event at Salem. Kempf held on for second in front of Brandon Deckard (Shepherdsville, Ky.), who finished a career-best third. David Bayens finished fourth. Trent Bayer finished a career-best fifth. Matt Stice finished sixth. John McLaren finished a career-best seventh. Craig Rogers, Shayne Slider and Kyle Hadley completed the top-10, respectively.

The next event at Salem is the Back to School Bash presented by Ace Hardware Saturday, Aug. 24. The big night of fun features this year’s first visit from the Vores Compact cars on the high-banks and the Lucas Oil Great American Stocks. There’ll be free grandstand attendance for all kids 12 and under, when accompanied by an adult.

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