The path to the Indianapolis 500 used to be paved through the USAC ranks. While some drivers still climb to the top of the open wheel mountain via Midgets, Sprints and Silver Crown cars, it is not nearly as common as it used to be.
A current driver in the USAC ranks who could take the old fashioned route is Kody Swanson, who capped off a great three-day run in open wheel events with a win in the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway on Saturday night.
Swanson bested Dave Steele, Jerry Coons, Jr. , Kyle Hamilton, Bobby Santos, III and 27 others. The victory made Swanson the first driver to win both the Hoosier Hundred and Little 500 in the same week.
Caleb Armstrong started the race on the pole and looked to be poised for the win, but made contact with a slower car on the front straight and his night ended on the inside of turn 2 with damage.
The length of the race demands pit stops from the competitors, and the strategy for different teams resulted in some ebbs and flows of luck during the event. While several of the top cars pitted early in the event, Santos and Billy Wease pitted under a red flag on lap 206, which saved them a lap. But that decision also cost Santos because it was a red flag condition, so he should not have fueled the car. The result was a penalty that was enforced on the second stop for Santos, who went from the lead, and the only car on the lead lap, to a lap down, which is where he ultimately finished.
The first half of the race was filled with fits and stops, thanks to several cautions that included a red flag. An incident with Travis Welpott on the back straight caught up Donnie Adams, Jr. and Jacob Wilson. The resulting impact with the inside wall of the backstretch caused the temporary wall to topple over, and it knocked over two refueling rigs, necessitating the race stoppage.
Swanson inherited the lead from Armstrong when he had his difficulties on lap 472. He battled his way through lapped traffic while being heavily pressured by Steele over the final laps.
Swanson’s win is the first by a driver from California in the 68-year history of the event. Ironically, Tanner Swanson, Kody’s brother who won the previous night at Lucas Oil Raceway, was the first driver out with a part failure on lap 9.
|3||3||Jerry Coons, Jr.||500|
|5||22||Bobby Santos III||498|
|9||1||Davey Hamilton Jr||495|
|25||4||Donnie Adams Jr.||196|