• Series News Release

Silver Crown Starts with Sumar

Updated: Jul 20


Series News Release from USAC Media


A classic track with a new look. A classic racing series with a new beginning.


After a four-year absence, the Sumar Classic returns for the 19th running this Sunday, May 1, at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track for the 2022 USAC Silver Crown season opener.


The scene of 36 champ cars will be at the forefront against the backdrop of a staggering amount of refurbishment to the grand ol’ half-mile dirt oval at the Vigo County Fairgrounds, including a new nine-foot high guardrail, fresh paint, plus tower, bathroom and concession stand upgrades, you know, the works.


A field of 36 is the largest anticipated lineup of cars and drivers for the Sumar since the 1997 event, just a quarter-century ago, if you’re counting. The tradition of the Sumar Classic – named after the wives of Terre Haute businessmen and Sumar Special car owners Chapman Root and Don Smith (Sue and Mary) – began in 1995, and few editions since have had the same type of anticipation as this Sunday’s running.

THE WILL TO COMPETE, THE THRILL TO REPEAT!


Five past Sumar Classic winners are among the bunch, all of whom are one-time winners. In fact, there have been 14 different race winners in the past 14 runnings of the event dating back to 1999.


Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), the 2020 series champion, turned in a winning performance in the most recent Sumar Classic, held in 2018, which was his fourth start in the event.


C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) made the winning move with seven laps remaining to capture the 2016 race and has finished inside the top-five in all four of his Sumar Classic starts. The victory made him the first son of a past USAC Silver Crown winner (Chuck Leary) to win a race of his own.


Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.) will become the first reigning USAC Silver Crown driving champion to compete with the #1 on his ride this Sunday as he too goes for a second career Sumar Classic win after winning back in 2014. He’s finished inside the top-10 in all seven of his event starts.


Shane Cockrum’s first half-mile dirt Silver Crown win came in 2015 at the Sumar Classic. The veteran of five Sumar starts from Benton, Ill. will be one to watch for after winning last year’s dirt season opener at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway.


Parma, Michigan’s Brian Tyler owns 10 Sumar Classic starts, but none since 2012. His 2004 Sumar Classic victory came after he transferred through the qualifying race, then charged from 22nd place on the grid to win, the furthest back any driver has started and done so.

AH, HA, HA, HA, IS THE STREAK GOING TO BE STAYIN’ ALIVE, STAYIN’ ALIVE?

There’s a number of drivers aiming to keep the streak of first-time Sumar Classic winners alive on Sunday, including Brady Bacon, Jerry Coons Jr., Chase Stockon and Logan Seavey, who have all won at Terre Haute in USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition.


At the Sumar, Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) has made four starts, finishing a best of 4th in 2016. Coons (Tucson, Ariz.) has made more Sumar Classic starts than anybody in the field with 13th but would love to notch a first triumph in the event after runner-up finishes in both 2008 and 2012. Stockon’s most recent, and only, Sumar start came in 2015, finishing 11th. Meanwhile, USAC Silver Crown racing’s 2021 Rookie of the Year and two-time series feature winner, Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), will be making his Sumar Classic debut.


Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.), making his debut for the new Hodges Motorsports team, has made eight Sumar starts, taking 2nd in 2006. Veteran Terry Babb (Decatur, Ill.) made has made two Sumar starts, one of which resulted in his best career Silver Crown finish, a 4th in 2010. Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) has five starts, but none since 2010, and collected solid 5th place finishes in the event back in 2002-2003. Eric Gordon (Greenfield, Ind.) is the lone driver who can boast having competed in the first Sumar Classic in 1995, finishing 11th, the best of his four career starts in the event.


Returning to the Sumar grid are Austin Nemire (Sylvania, Ohio) who earned a 12th in 2018; Patrick Lawson (Edwardsville, Ill.) finished 12th in 2014; Kyle Robbins (New Castle, Ind.) was 13th in 2018; David Byrne (Shullsburg, Wis.) collected a 13th in 2016; Bill Rose (Plainfield, Ind.) snagged a 16th in 2017; Davey Ray (Davenport, Iowa) placed 17th in 2014; Kyle Steffens (St. Charles, Mo.), making his first Sumar appearance since 2005, was 18th in 2002; and Travis Welpott (Pendleton, Ind.) recorded a 19th back in 2018.

SUMAR VETERANS, SOME ARE ROOKIES


Just because you’ve never been in a Sumar Classic doesn’t mean you can’t win it, although it’s been rare. Donnie Beechler (1995) and Josh Wise (2005) are the only drivers to win in their first start in the event.

Five drivers, in fact, are aiming to make their first ever Silver Crown series start on Sunday. That includes 2021 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Champion Buddy Kofoid (Penngrove, Calif) for the Hans Lein-owned team which won the pole for the Sumar in 2018 with driver Tyler Courtney. Current USAC National Sprint Car point leader Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.) is entered for his first foray in the big cars with Nolen Racing, which won the 1998 and 2002 installments of the Sumar Classic with driver Tony Elliott.


Florida sprint car champion Tommy Nichols (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) will make his first Silver Crown appearance since DNQ’ing at Tennessee’s Memphis Motorsports Park in 1998 and aims to qualify for his first main event start on Sunday. Signing in for their first ever Silver Crown race is 2006 Paragon (Ind.) Speedway sprint car track champion Gregg Cory (Shelbyville, Ind.) as well as Eldora Speedway’s four-time late model and two-time modified titlist, Brian Ruhlman (Clarklake, Mich.) as well as northern Indiana’s pavement winged sprint car vet Tom Paterson (Argos, Ind.).

SUMAR ROOKIES, SERIES VETS WHO'VE GOT THE JETS


They’ll be joined by a slew of Silver Crown experienced drivers who find themselves among the Sumar Classic’s 2022 Rookie class. The 2021 USAC National Most Improved Driver Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) has been a regular contender for a win on the Silver Crown trail as has been USAC National Midget and Sprint Car winner Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) who makes his return to the series for a first career Sumar appearance.


Dave Peperak (Clinton, Ind.) is a former USAC National Sprint Car track record holder at Terre Haute but is fairly new to the Silver Crown cars. He’s joined by Dallas Hewitt (Troy, Ohio), nephew of 1999 Sumar winner Jack Hewitt. Korey Weyant (Springfield, Ill.) is the great nephew of Terre Haute’s 1955 Hut Hundred midget winner, Chuck Weyant.


Sumar Classic first-timers also include the likes of Carmen Perigo (Stoystown, Pa.), Casey Buckman (Chandler, Ariz.) and series full-timer Dave Berkheimer (Mechanicsburg, Pa.). Ronnie Wuerdeman (Cincinnati, Ohio) returns to the fold after a devastating Williams Grove crash last year sidelined his car for the remainder of the season. Chris Fetter (Troy, Mo.) is back in action as is Danny Long (Bonne Terre, Mo.), a Vietnam War veteran who is the most veteran driver in the field at 72 years old.