Home Sprint Car & Midget News Dirt USAC Silver Crown Winners & Their Pavement Debuts

Dirt USAC Silver Crown Winners & Their Pavement Debuts

Brady Bacon during his USAC National Sprint Car win on the paved high banks of Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 2008.
(Jeremey Rhoades Photo)

By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Toledo, Ohio (October 2, 2020)………After two previous USAC Silver Crown victories on dirt, Brady Bacon is set to make his series debut on pavement in this Sunday afternoon’s Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness Rollie Beale Classic aboard the Doran Racing No. 77 on October 4.

Bacon won at both Williams Grove Speedway and Eldora Speedway during the 2019 USAC Silver Crown season, giving him the unique position as a dirt Silver Crown winner who has yet to make a pavement Silver Crown appearance in any of his previous 27 series starts.

Here, we take a look at those drivers in a similar position to Bacon as an already-established dirt Silver Crown winner, in his case, as well as those drivers who eventually became a dirt Silver Crown winner.  Then, we’ll see how each of those individuals fared in their pavement debut.

One caveat to the whole deal is that Bacon isn’t exactly a novice when it comes to pavement racing.  The very first of his 34 career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car wins came on the high banks of Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 2008.

The best pavement debut of any Silver Crown driver came courtesy of Tom Bigelow during the first ever race for the series on pavement in 1975 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.  Obviously, a first-time pavement winner was going to emerge on that day, regardless, but Bigelow was a force of dominance, winning the pole, then leading 164 of the 200 laps to score the victory.

Bigelow, Rick Hood (Indianapolis Raceway Park-1985) and Cole Whitt (Phoenix Int’l Raceway-2009) are the only dirt Silver Crown winners to debut on pavement with a win.  Bigelow is also one of three dirt Silver Crown winners to debut with the pole position in their first pavement run.  Kyle Larson also started 1st at the Milwaukee Mile in 2011 before finishing 8th.  Chris Windom won the pole in 2013 at Gateway Motorsports Park and finished in the 3rd position.

Dirt Silver Crown winners finishing inside the top-five during their first pavement starts include the likes of Windom, who is one of 12 drivers to do so, along with Bigelow, Hood, Whitt, Jackie Howerton, Gary Bettenhausen, Ken Schrader, Steve Butler, Jeff Swindell, Jeff Gordon, Russ Gamester and Dave Darland.

A total of 22 dirt Silver Crown winners, such as Bacon is, have finished inside the top-ten on their maiden pavement voyage with the series.  Adding to the list above, you can throw in Billy Engelhart, Sheldon Kinser, George Snider, Jack Hewitt, Tony Elliott, Tony Stewart, Mat Neely, Shane Hollingsworth, Kyle Larson and Justin Grant.

Looking at this group, it’s very noticeable that 15 of the 22 dirt Silver Crown winners mentioned who’ve finished inside the top-ten during their first pavement series start are USAC National champions.  And 10 of the 12 who finished within the top-five have been champs as well.

There’s no telling what Sunday will hold for Bacon.  Many factors play into a successful 100-lap campaign, both mechanically and mentally, avoiding trouble, in addition to meshing with a successful and experienced team that is new to Silver Crown.  As a two-time USAC National Sprint Car champ, Bacon would certainly fit in nicely with this group as a “dirt guy” who made good in his first Silver Crown go on the pavement.

The Sunday afternoon, October 4, Hemelgarn Racing/Super Fitness “Rollie Beale Classic” features the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series plus Late Model Sportsman, Figure 8, Factory Stock and Street Stock features for the penultimate round of the 2020 season in the Glass City.

The USAC pit gate opens at 8:30am ET on raceday, front gates open at 11am, practice runs from 11:30am-12:15pm for the Silver Crown cars with Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying at 1:05pm and opening ceremonies at 2pm, followed by the 100-lap Rollie Beale Classic.

All tickets are $25 each, and tickets will only be available online at www.toledospeedway.com.  With limited seating for each event, fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets as soon as possible.

Grandstand ticketing will be limited to 1,500 with a standard admission price for all events of $25 per person, with specified seating locations to ensure social distancing and presale offering contactless purchasing.  Any unsold tickets will be available at the track on race day, beginning at 11am.

The Rollie Beale Classic can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2Zs7zFP.

PAVEMENT SILVER CROWN DEBUT RACES BY DIRT WINNERS:

(Through August 2, 2020)

1970s Debuts:

Tom Bigelow: Started 1st, finished 1st at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Pancho Carter: Started 2nd, finished 14th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Steve Chassey: Started 17th, finished 21st at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Larry Dickson: Started 9th, finished 19th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Billy Engelhart: Started 5th, finished 8th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Jackie Howerton: Started 16th, finished 5th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Sheldon Kinser: Started 4th, finished 7th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Joe Saldana: Started 7th, finished 13th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Rich Vogler: Started 6th, finished 16th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

Billy Vukovich: Started 10th, finished 20th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1975)

1980s Debuts:

Gary Bettenhausen: Started 6th, finished 4th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1984)

Herb Copeland: Started 22nd, finished 21at at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1984)

Chuck Gurney: Started 9th, finished 17th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1984)

Gary Hieber: Started 10th, finished 14th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1984)

Larry Rice: Started 3rd, finished 23rd at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1984)

Ken Schrader: Started 7th, finished 5th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1984)

George Snider: Started 8th, finished 6th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (1984)

Rick Hood: Started 5th, finished 1st at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1985)

Johnny Parsons: Started 14th, finished 24th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1985)

Steve Butler: Started 15th, finished 2nd at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1986)

Jack Hewitt: Started 21st, finished 6th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1986)

Tony Elliott: Started 26th, finished 10th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1987)

Kenny Jacobs: Started 9th, finished 11th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1987)

Jeff Swindell: Started 14th, finished 5th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1987)

1990s Debuts

Jeff Gordon: Started 4th, finished 5th at Phoenix International Raceway (1990)

Lealand McSpadden: Started 15th, finished 27th at Phoenix International Raceway (1990)

Jimmy Sills: Started 22nd, finished 29th at Phoenix International Raceway (1990)

Russ Gamester: Started 8th, finished 4th at Phoenix International Raceway (1991)

Stevie Reeves: Started 10th, finished 20th at Phoenix International Raceway (1991)

Ron Shuman: Started 24th, finished 27th at Phoenix International Raceway (1991)

Tony Stewart: Started 5th, finished 6th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1992)

Kenny Irwin Jr.: Started 23rd, finished 11th at Phoenix International Raceway (1993)

Jay Drake: Started 18th, finished 18th at Mesa Marin Raceway (1994)

Chuck Leary: Started 22nd, finished 15th at Phoenix International Raceway (1994)

Jason Leffler: Started 16th, finished 12th at Mesa Marin Raceway (1994)

Dave Darland: Started 15th, finished 4th at Richmond International Raceway (1995)

Donnie Beechler: Started 23rd, finished 11th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1996)

Tracy Hines: Started 19th, finished 19th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1996)

Brian Tyler: Started 18th, finished 23rd at Richmond International Raceway (1996)

Kevin Thomas: Started 10th, finished 26th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1997)

J.J. Yeley: Started 20th, finished 22nd at Indianapolis Raceway Park (1997)

Jerry Coons Jr.: Started 25th, finished 17th at Pikes Peak International Raceway (1998)

Rich Tobias Jr.: Started 29th, finished 26th at Nazareth Speedway (1999)

Paul White: Started 20th, finished 19th at Walt Disney World Speedway (1999)

2000s Debuts

A.J. Fike: Started 25th, finished 29th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (2000)

Bud Kaeding: Started 29th, finished 18th at Nazareth Speedway (2000)

Kasey Kahne: Started 20th, finished 25th at Nazareth Speedway (2000)

Tyler Walker: Started 25th, finished 17th at Phoenix International Raceway (2001)

Teddy Beach: Started 27th, finished 18th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (2002)

Bobby East: Started 10th, finished 31st at Indianapolis Raceway Park (2002)

Levi Jones: Started 27th, finished 24th at Indianapolis Raceway Park (2003)

Mat Neely: Started 8th, finished 9th at O’Reilly Raceway Park (2006)

Josh Wise: Started 13th, finished 27th at Phoenix International Raceway (2007)

Shane Cottle: Started 3rd, finished 15th at Richmond International Raceway (2008)

Shane Hmiel: Started 1st, finished 14th at O’Reilly Raceway Park (2008)

Shane Hollingsworth: Started 9th, finished 9th at Richmond International Raceway (2008)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Started 24th, finished 17th at O’Reilly Raceway Park (2008)

Kody Swanson: Started 7th, finished 26th at Phoenix (2008)

Jacob Wilson: Started 14th, finished 14th at Richmond International Raceway (2008)

Bryan Clauson: Started 18th, finished 16th at Phoenix International Raceway (2009)

Cole Whitt: Started 6th, finished 1st at Phoenix International Raceway (2009)

Kyle Larson: Started 1st, finished 8th at the Milwaukee Mile (2011)

Chris Windom: Started 1st, finished 3rd at Gateway Motorsports Park (2013)

Christopher Bell: Started 17th, finished 13th at Lucas Oil Raceway (2014)

Shane Cockrum: Started 13th, finished 17th at Lucas Oil Raceway (2014)

C.J. Leary: Started 15th, finished 20th at Lucas Oil Raceway (2014)

Justin Grant: Started 12th, finished 6th at Lucas Oil Raceway (2016)

Tyler Courtney: Started 17th, finished 12th at Lucas Oil Raceway (2017)

Never Made Pavement Silver Crown Start:

Mario Andretti: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Shane Carson: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

A.J. Foyt: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Jimmy Horton: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Kevin Huntley: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Bubby Jones: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Keith Kauffman: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Steve Kinser: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Eddie Leavitt: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Jim McElreath: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Bobby Olivero: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Danny Smith: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Al Unser: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Chris Urish: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

Doug Wolfgang: Never made a pavement Silver Crown start

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