Spring is here and with that comes certain guarantees - the flowers will bloom, the boys of summer will be returning, and TK Motorsports' Swanson brothers will be winning. The 2011 USAC Western Midget season started with the John Padjen Classic at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California, and a field of 21 chomping-at-the-bit midgets showed up at the quarter-mile dirt bullring eager to cut loose. And, as sure as the swallows return to Capistrano, the Swanson brothers were in the fray, with Kody picking up his first ever career USAC Dirt Midget win by less than a foot. Tanner Swanson continued his strong run from last season as he finished with a solid fifth place effort.
TK Motorsports is proud of the season opening win in Chico, for themselves and K&N.
Kody and Tanner Swanson are looking to make 2011 another year of victories and firsts.
"When I saw him (Bryan Clauson) look low into turn three, I knew that he would have to hit some ruts on his way off of turn four, and get tight, so my only chance to win would be to turn back underneath him and race to the line," detailed Kody.
Clauson continued to close on Kody into the last lap, making his final attempt at the lead on turn four, as the two came down the front-stretch together to a photo-finish.
Kody notched his first USAC Dirt Midget victory with a dramatic photo-finish.
"It was a terrible feeling, we had done so well in the early parts of the race, but I had got myself caught up on a few lapped cars and let him back into the race," said Kody about watching Clauson waving his arms believing he had won.
"He's tough enough to beat, let alone give him a second chance, and I thought I'd let one get away. When he got out and on top of his car, I thought he'd won. So when they called me, it was a big rush of emotion, changing from complete disappointment to surprise, and then excitement. It was great to have held on to that one, but it was way too close for comfort."
Unusually heavy California rain made for a very wet and rough feature event at Silver Dollar Speedway, "I was fortunate to come from eighth to the lead in just a matter of six laps, but there were a number of close calls along the way," remarked Kody.
"With the track in that kind of condition, everyone was doing their best to hold one, but no one really knew exactly what their car was going to do. I'd say that I got lucky to get through to the front easily, and then got caught up with the lapped cars, whereas Bryan seemed to get caught up in getting to the front, but flew through the lapped traffic. It was a tough and tricky 30-laps."
As usual both Kody and Tanner had a busy off-season working on putting together sponsorships for their team. They also spent time organizing their annual TK Motorsports Banquet, something they do every year in appreciation of their crew members and sponsors. When they weren't doing that, they were spending hours in the garage preparing their pavement Sprint Cars and Dirt Midgets.
"As far as preparing for our driving duties, we are still underway, and continue to get in better shape with the bulk of the season fast approaching," commented the K&N sponsored driver.
We wondered if during the off-season they also discussed game plans and goals for the coming season, or if it was simply a one race at a time strategy for them?
"I'd say I look at both," answered Kody. "I ran third in USAC Silver Crown points last year, despite having the highest number of top-two and top-five finishes, and this year, I would love to win the title and give Team 6R Racing the first championship of their storied history."
"I am very excited about the Wilke-PAK car this season in the National Midgets, and would love to be able to win the National Midget title. Both of those would be very tough to pull off, but I feel like if you don't aim for it, you'll never win it by accident. And then obviously the other side of the coin is that I always want to win the next race, which currently would be the USAC Pavement Sprint Car race at Anderson, Indiana with my TK Motorsports number 75."
Another first for Kody this year is being asked to compete in the prestige's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
"I received an email from Les Unger, from Toyota Motorsports, asking of my interest in competing in the event. I am really excited to be able to compete in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race for a number of reasons. Not only is it for a great cause (Racing for Kids), but it provides me a great opportunity to showcase what the USAC and I have to offer in terms of driving. It is a great opportunity to learn to compete on a road course, and I really feel like this legitimizes what I am doing as a racecar driver in the United States Auto Club. I feel really fortunate to have this opportunity, and I am excited to try to make the most of it."
Kody and Tanner Swanson's next race will be in the 100-lap Glen Niebel Classic at Anderson Speedway in Indiana.
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