ROLLIE BEALE CLASSIC RACE PREVIEW
ROLLIE BEALE CLASSIC RACE PREVIEW
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Toledo, Ohio (September 29, 2020)………All three previous USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series winners at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway – Jerry Coons Jr., Kody Swanson and Bobby Santos – are entered for this Sunday afternoon’s 100-lap Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic at the high banked, half-mile paved oval on October 4, honoring the legendary Toledo native and 1973 USAC Sprint Car champion driver.
The event marks the eighth appearance by the series at Toledo since 2010. It’s also the next-to-last Silver Crown contest of the 2020 season. Entering Sunday’s race, Ione, California’s Justin Grant leads the series points standings by 22 points over Kody Swanson. Grant is seeking a first series title while Swanson is eying an unprecedented sixth.
Grant set quick time in qualifying at Toledo in 2018. He’s earned top-ten Toledo finishes with a 10th in both 2017 and 2018, then turned in a personal best 4th in 2019. His car owner is native Ohioan and race sponsor Ron Hemelgarn, who was also the winning owner for Buddy Lazier’s 1996 Indianapolis 500 entry. Dennis LaCava turned the wrenches for Lazier on that day and will do so for Grant at Toledo this Sunday.
Kingsburg, California’s Kody Swanson is the only driver to have started all seven USAC Silver Crown events at Toledo and has yet to finish outside the top-four in any of those seven starts. The five-time Silver Crown champ, who currently stands second in points, enters the event as the defending race winner and has won the Rollie Beale Classic on four occasions, in 2011, 2015, 2018 and 2019, and has led 455 of the 800 laps ever run by Silver Crown cars at Toledo. He’s also won the pole four times in 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2019. His first, in 2011, remains the one-lap Silver Crown track record at Toledo – 14.809 sec. (121.548 mph avg.).
Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.) is the only driver to win at Toledo Speedway in a USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Silver Crown car in his career, taking the checkered at the Rollie Beale Classic in 2017. He’s the most recent driver not named Kody Swanson to win at Toledo. The pavement ace has finished inside the top-three in a Crown car at Toledo on four occasions, 3rd in 2012, 1st in 2017, 2nd in 2018 and 2nd again in 2019.
Jerry Coons Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) makes his triumphant return to USAC Silver Crown competition this Sunday at Toledo aboard the Kazmark Motorsports No. 92. In five Toledo Silver Crown starts, he’s not once finished outside the top-four. He won the inaugural Crown race at the track in 2010 where he was also the fastest qualifier and led the final 92 laps. The 2008 series champ won again in 2012, leading the final 14. In his three other starts, he’s finished 4th three different times, in 2011-15-17. His 2012 Toledo victory is the 100-lap record for Silver Crown cars at Toledo, 27:07.40 (110.606 mph avg,).
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) has been a contender at Toledo in each of the past three years, qualifying and running in the top-five in all three instances. The 2017 Silver Crown champion took 3rd in 2017 and wound up 15th in 2018 after losing the brakes while in the lead pack, and was back near the front of the pack again in 2019 where he finished 5th after starting 10th.
Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) has made 27 career USAC Silver Crown starts to go along with two victories. However, none of those previous 27 starts have come on pavement. Bacon is not a newbie to pavement racing or Toledo Speedway. In 2007, he finished 9th there in a Midget and 13th in a Sprint Car. In fact, the first career USAC National Sprint Car win for the two-time champ came on pavement at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 2008. His first pavement Silver Crown ride this Sunday comes aboard the Doran Racing No. 77, who’ll be making their series debut as an entrant.
Danville, Indiana’s Kyle Hamilton returns to the place where he made his first career Silver Crown start, back in 2011, finishing 8th. His team, Klatt Enterprises, has won three USAC National Sprint Car races at Toledo, in 2004, 2009 and 2011 with driver Bobby East. Hamilton, the 2012 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year, has finished a best of 6th at Toledo in both 2012 and 2019.
Muncie, Indiana’s Aaron Pierce has Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown experience at Toledo and has finished in the top-five in three of his last four Toledo starts with a 5th in 2015 and 2018 and a best of 3rd in 2019.
Shullsburg, Wisconsin’s David Byrne has been a consistent frontrunner at Toledo, and on the pavement, for much of his USAC Silver Crown career. Three of the one-time series winner’s Toledo starts have produced top-eight finishes with a best of 3rd in 2018 to go along with a 6th in 2015 and an 8th in 2017.
The sole Ohio native in the field is Sylvania’s Austin Nemire. Nemire made his first career Silver Crown start at Toledo in 2015, finishing 7th, then came back in 2018 with a solid 6th. Nemire has been consistently steady over the years at Toledo, taking a best finish of 6th in 2018, then was the hard charger in 2019, moving his way through the field to a 7th place finish after starting 20th.
Brian Gerster (Fishers, Ind.) knows his way around Toledo Speedway. In 2018, he set the all-time one-lap track record at Toledo Speedway with a lap of 12.096 seconds in a winged sprint car. In the 2019 Rollie Beale Classic, Gerster made his first Silver Crown run in eight seasons a success, finishing 10th after starting 19th. Gerster, the 1992 USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year, has won eight career Midget races with USAC and one in the Sprint Cars.
Several returning veterans are back in action for another go at the Rollie Beale Classic. Derek Bischak, (Angola, Ind.), the 2019 Silver Crown Rookie of the Year, finished 8th in his Toledo debut in 2019. The previous season’s Rookie of the Year in 2018, Kyle Robbins (New Castle, Ind.), was 11th in 2018 with Travis Welpott finishing a solid 9th in that same 2018 event. Matt Goodnight (Winchester, Ind.) snagged an 8th place result at Toledo in 2018.
Also returning to the Toledo lineup are Toni Breidinger (Hillsborough, Calif.), the only female in the field, plus Patrick Lawson (Edwardsville, Ill.), who finished a career-best 7th after starting 21st on the pavement at Lucas Oil Raceway in late August. Mike Haggenbottom (Levittown, Pa.) joins the field as one of two representatives from the Keystone State.
Aiming to make their first USAC Silver Crown starts at Toledo are 2020 season opening Selinsgrove, Pa. winner Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.), plus 2020’s leading series Rookie, Bryan Gossel of Fort Collins, Colo. and Dave Berkheimer from the legendary racing town of Mechanicsburg, Pa., who appeared at Toledo in 2019, but mechanical issues hindered him from starting the event.
The Sunday afternoon, October 4, Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness “Rollie Beale Classic” features the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series plus Late Model Sportsman, Figure 8, Factory Stock and Street Stock features for the penultimate round of the 2020 season in the Glass City.
The USAC pit gate opens at 8:30am ET on raceday, front gates open at 11am, practice runs from 11:30am-12:15pm for the Silver Crown cars with Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying at 1:05pm and opening ceremonies at 2pm, followed by the 100-lap Rollie Beale Classic.
All tickets are $25 each, and advance tickets will only be available online at www.toledospeedway.com. With limited seating for each event, fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets as soon as possible.
Any remaining tickets will be available at the gate on race day beginning at 11 a.m.
Grandstand ticketing will be limited to 1,500 with a standard admission price for all events of $25 per person, with specified seating locations to ensure social distancing and presale offering contactless purchasing.
USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-199, 2-Kody Swanson-177, 3-Kyle Robbins-167, 4-Matt Goodnight-167, 5-Chris Windom-166, 6-Shane Cottle-163, 7-Aaron Pierce-151, 8-Mike Haggenbottom-149, 9-C.J. Leary-143, 10-Bryan Gossel-136.