Kody Swanson and Team Wilke-Pak Win at ORP and Make USAC History

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By now it's become abundantly clear that when discussing the K&N sponsored Swanson brothers, Kody and Tanner, the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. These two thrive in a spirited family environment that is as fiery in its combustible competitiveness, as it is rich in mutual support and respect. When nineteen-year-old Tanner won the Night Before the 500 USAC National Midget event at O'Reilly Raceway (ORP) May 29th, on his first attempt, no one cheered any louder than older brother Kody.
Kody Swanson turned in a dominating performance while making history at the USAC National Midget Series
Kody Swanson turned in a dominating performance while making history at the USAC National Midget Series

When the USAC National Midget series returned to ORP, to kick-off the opening night of the Kroger Speedfest, which included racing action from the K&N USAC Silver Crown, NASCAR Truck and Nationwide Series, Kody had it in the back of his mind that it was his turn to do something big. Tanner didn't have a midget ride for this race and had to sit it out, so the pressure was on for Kody to match the performance put on by his brother just two months earlier.

"This was my first win at ORP and my first National Midget win in two years, so I was very excited. I knew that the Wilke-Pak number 11 car had been strong all day, and starting on the pole, I knew that there was a great chance we could end up in victory lane," remarked Kody.

"This win has huge historic significance, not only for me, but for my race team. I was driving for Wilke-Pak Motorsports, who was tied for the 'Most Wins in USAC History' with Steve Lewis at 133 each. So, to win the feature event, and give them number 134 and help to make them the winningest team in USAC history was really special. It has extra significance for me too. I am not completely sure, but I could be one of only a few drivers to win for both teams. I actually scored win 132 for Lewis in 2008."

Kody and Tanner also competed in the K&N USAC Silver Crown Series event, unfortunately they both got a DNF, but not before putting on a spectacular show and making their presence known to all.

"Last year I was the Silver Crown 'Rookie of the Year,' so I've probably competed in about 15 events, but this was only Tanner's third race. The biggest difference is the size, midgets have about 375 horsepower and weigh 900 pounds, while the Silver Crown car can have 800 horsepower and weigh 1500 pounds, making a big difference, especially when considering the additional wheelbase," explained Kody.

"Aside from that, the Silver Crown races are 100-laps, whereas Midget races are typically only 30. Tanner and I have done well adapting between the two, as we have been able to compete for top positions in both series over the last year."

"We were both doing really well actually. I started fourth and Tanner started in sixth. I jumped to the lead in less than five laps and began driving away from the field. Tanner was holding his own too, and running solidly around the top-five, despite developing tire problems. I continued to hold the lead by nearly ten car-lengths when the first caution came out, and then on the ensuing restart that's when I cut down the right rear tire. It was disappointing to have had such a strong car, and the chance to win two big races in the same night, and then have someone else's crash debris ruin our night. However, at times, both Tanner and I were really strong, and I know that our first Silver Crown win can't be too far away."

Kody says that he and Tanner are excited that their next race in the K&N USAC Silver Crown Series will be on the historic five-eighth mile paved oval in Oswego, New York.

"Last year, I ran fourth in that race, and my Team 6R teammate Brian Tyler won, so I'm excited about all of our chances to run up front, and hopefully bring home the win."

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