"Man that sure started out to be a great night," remarked Kody Swanson. At 22 Kody is the older half of the K&N sponsored TK Motorsports brothers by nearly three years. Tanner is the other half, and together they make a whole significantly larger than the sum of their parts. They are brothers and allies first, and each other's most competitive adversaries a distant second.
Kody and Tanner are each other's greatest rivals and supporters, it's clearly a winning combination.
The event Kody refers to was the 70th running of the "Turkey Night Grand Prix" at Irwindale's Toyota Speedway. The occasion featured both Kody and Tanner pulling double-duty in the USAC Western Sprint and National Midget divisions, driving their own TK Motorsports Sprint Cars and the Midget teams of Wilke-Pak Motorsports and Don Fike's RFMS Racing.
And as they had all year long, in the 2010 season ending race the Swanson Brothers once more stole the show and left fans craving for more in 2011.
Kody and Tanner with their entire 6R racing team celebrating in Victory Lane.
"I tested our Sprint Cars earlier that month, and knew that we had a great chance to be fast on race night. I really felt bad after my qualifying effort, I got really loose into turn three, and I thought that we qualified badly. So, when I saw that I was on top of the board, I was excited. But, I knew that Tanner still had to go out, and that I left the door wide open for him. He executed a great lap, and knocked me off the top - but I expected that."
In 2010 Tanner also won the historic "Night Before the 500" Midget race at ORP in his very first attempt.
The "loose" lap that Kody ran broke the 16.37 second track record set in 2003 with a lap
16.17 seconds, and Tanner's "great lap" broke that record with a 16.13.
"We did have a little smack talk going on after that, but it was definitely friendly. We both know that we can be each other's biggest competition and greatest supporters. It really is an interesting combination, but it seems to work well for us."
Kody will be driving the Wilke-PAK Motorsports number 11 at the season opening 25th Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
Next up for the Swanson brothers was the National Midget qualifying lap, Tanner was out first in his Don Fike owned number 3 car.
"Tanner went out in the midgets and tied the track record that had just been set before his run, but lost on a tie-breaker," said Kody. "So when I went out, I knew that if I was going to keep the Toyota Speedway records in the family, I had to get the job done, and did just that. The Wilke-PAK number 11 was great in qualifying, just like our TK Motorsports Sprint Cars were, and I was really excited to end qualifying with two track records in the family. The crowd seemed pretty into it, but honestly, I was so happy for us and our teams that I really wasn't too worried what the crowd thought about it at that moment."
In the USAC Western Sprint feature, Kody won and Tanner ran a close second, pressuring his brother for the lead, until mechanical failure ended his night prematurely. It was TK Motorsports first ever "Turkey Night" feature win.
"Turkey Night is really big event for us, especially since my first Sprint Car race was there," added Kody. "Being the final race of the year, we both know it's our last chance to put one, or even two more in the win column for the year. Tanner and I have always been fast there, and we always give our best effort to focus, and get the job done, no matter what event it is. For whatever reason, it just seemed to work out that night, until both of us were struck with bad luck in the midget feature. I mean, we had great cars in both divisions, and we just tried to capitalize on that opportunity."
The USAC National Midget feature had the Swanson brothers lined up first and third. Kody shot to the lead, with Tanner again running towards the front as well, until his streak of bad luck continued and another engine failure ended his night. Kody continued to battle up front for the first 40 of the 98 lap event until his right rear tire blew, ending his night too.
"Overall, I thought that last season went well. As a driver though you always wish that you had won more races, or did better on off nights, but realistically we had a great year."
"A major highlight was the ‘Great Lakes 150' Silver Crown race in Marne, Michigan. Tanner scored his first career Silver Crown win, and I finished second, making us the first brothers in History to sweep a USAC Silver Crown feature event. In the very next event, the ‘Ted Horn 100' I scored my first career Silver Crown win, and to do it in back-to-back fashion was really special for both Tanner and I."
In 2010 Tanner also won the historic "Night Before the 500" Midget race at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis - it was his first try at the event.
"I won my first race at ORP just two months later, and gave the Wilke-PAK Motorsports team their 134th feature win, making them the winningest team in USAC History, and making it a Swanson Brothers sweep of the USAC National Midget events at ORP. All of those were major highlights for us, and I really think that this season has put Tanner and me on the map, even before our strong runs at Turkey Night."
At the time of this interview Kody and Tanner are already at the first event of their 2011 season. They are running at the 25th Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, a weeklong indoor dirt midget event that features over 260 competitors, racing from Tuesday through Saturday to crown the event champion. Tanner will be competing for the TK Motorsports 6R Racing team, and Kody will be driving the Wilke-PAK Motorsports number 11.
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