By: Richie Murray
BELLEVILLE, KS-Big field. Big cars. Big return!
Thirty USAC Silver Crown National Championship drivers and cars are on the entry list for the return of champ car racing to the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks for the first time in eight seasons this Friday-Saturday, May 19-20.
Three previous USAC Silver Crown events have been held at the half-mile dirt oval – in 2013-14-15, with this Saturday’s 50-lap main event paying $8,000 to the winner.
One previous Belleville Silver Crown winner is entered for this weekend’s events, that being seven-time series titlist Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.), who hustled to victory back in 2014.
In fact, of the 30 drivers in this year’s field, only nine have previously competed in the event: Swanson, C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.), Shane Cockrum (Benton, Ill.), Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.), Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.), Austin Nemire (Sylvania, Ohio) and Chris Fetter (Troy, Mo.).
Mario Clouser (Auburn, Ill.) has previously competed with the midgets on the high banks, but this weekend will mark his first foray at the track with the Silver Crown cars. Several others are in the same boat, having competed at Belleville in various divisions in years past.
Chief among those are Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio), Travis Welpott (Pendleton, Ind.) and Matt Mitchell (Yorba Linda, Calif.), all of whom have previously competed with the USAC National Midgets during the Belleville Nationals. Wayne Johnson (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Bryan Gossel (Fort Collins, Colo.), meanwhile, have both taken winged sprint cars to the banks.
Belleville debuts come from USAC National champion Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), plus USAC National feature winners Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) and Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.).
Taylor Ferns (Shelby Township, Mich.) and Kaylee Bryson (Muskogee, Okla.) will arrive at Belleville having come off terrific 2022 Silver Crown campaign. Ferns earned a pair of top-three results while Bryson, the 2022 USAC National Most Improved Driver, took home a top-five in the most recent series dirt race.
Johnson and Bryson are among this year’s top-flite class of Silver Crown Rookie of the Year contenders making their Belleville debuts along with two-time Little 500 winner Tyler Roahrig (Plymouth, Ind.) and Trey Burke (Alvin, Texas).
Also gunning for Belleville glory are in their first USAC Silver Crown appearances at Belleville are Kyle Steffens (St. Charles, Mo.), Casey Buckman (Chandler, Ariz.), Dave Berkheimer (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), 2022 Rookie of the Year Gregg Cory (Shelbyville, Ind.), Patrick Bruns (Champaign, Ill.), Danny Long (Bonne Terre, Mo.) and Tom Paterson (Argos, Ind.), who’s returning for his second Silver Crown season.
On Friday, it’s practice night for the USAC Silver Crown division at Belleville with three separate sessions throughout the night in conjunction with a full program for the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship. The pits open at 3pm Central. Front gates open at 5:30pm. Hot laps start at 6:30pm, followed by qualifying and racing. General admission and reserved tickets are $25. General admission and reserved tickets for ages 12 and under are $15. A one-day pit pass is $35 and two-day pit passes are $60.
On Saturday, it’s a full race day for both the USAC Silver Crown and USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship divisions. The pits open at 3pm Central. Front gates open at 5:30pm. Hot laps start at 6:30pm, followed by qualifying and racing. General admission and reserved tickets are $30. General admission and reserved tickets for ages 12 and under are $20. A one-day pit pass is $40 and two-day pit passes are $60.
The entire events for both nights at Belleville, can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3ZjeooQ
2023 BELLEVILLE USAC SILVER CROWN ENTRY LIST: (30 CARS)
06 BRYAN GOSSEL/Fort Collins, CO (Bryan Gossel)
08 KYLE STEFFENS/St. Charles, MO (Gordon Steffens)
5 (R) MATT MITCHELL/Yorba Linda, CA (DMW Motorsports)
6 C.J. LEARY/Greenfield, IN (Klatt Enterprises)
9 BRADY BACON/Broken Arrow, OK (Chris Dyson Racing)
10 JAKE SWANSON/Anaheim, CA (DMW Motorsports)
11 (R) TREY BURKE/Alvin, TX (Davey Hamilton Racing/SRG)
12 (R) WAYNE JOHNSON/Oklahoma City, OK (Two C Racing)
15 CHRIS FETTER/Troy, MO (Chris Fetter)
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
18 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)
19 (R) TYLER ROAHRIG/Plymouth, IN (Legacy Autosport)
22 LOGAN SEAVEY/Sutter, CA (Rice Motorsports)
25 CASEY BUCKMAN/Chandler, AZ (C-Buck Motorsports)
26 (R) KAYLEE BRYSON/Muskogee, OK (Sam Pierce)
31 DAVE BERKHEIMER/Mechanicsburg, PA (Berkheimer Racing)
32 GREGG CORY/Shelbyville, IN (Williams Racing)
44 DANNY LONG/Bonne Terre, MO (Danny Long)
53 KEVIN THOMAS JR./Cullman, AL (Five Three Motorsports)
69 CHASE STOCKON/Fort Branch, IN (Pink 69 Racing)
71 SHANE COCKRUM/Benton, IL (BLS Motorsports)
74 SHANE COTTLE/Kansas, IL (Hodges Motorsports)
77 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (Doran-Binks Racing)
81 MATT WESTFALL/Pleasant Hill, OH (BCR Group)
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
92 MARIO CLOUSER/Auburn, IL (Kazmark Motorsports)
95 PATRICK BRUNS/Champaign, IL (Full Throttle Racing)
97 (R) MITCHEL MOLES/Raisin City, CA (Hans Lein)
111 TOM PATERSON/Argos, IN (Tom Paterson)
555 TAYLOR FERNS/Shelby Township, MI (Taylor Ferns Racing)
(R) represents a USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year Contender