National driving champions Kody Swanson, Chris Windom and Spencer Bayston shared the spotlight, along with other 2017 USAC champions and special award recipients at the 62nd USAC “Night of Champions” celebration Dec. 8 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis.
Swanson, of Kingsburg, California; Windom, of Canton, Illinois; and Bayston, of Lebanon, earned national championships. Swanson was a third-time Silver Crown titlist, Windom a first-time AMSOIL Sprint Car king and Bayston a first-time National Midget champ.
Joss Moffatt of Columbus was named “Rookie of the Year” in the USAC Silver Crown division. Moffatt drove a car owned by Orville Wright and Roger Williams of Saint Paul. The car was sponsored by E3 Spark Plugs and Lucas Oil Products.
“Being a part of USAC and being named Rookie of the Year is an honor and a humbling experience,” Moffatt said. “Running the dirt miles is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Those cars on those tracks are a handful. I have a great group of guys that help me every step of the way. Thanks to John and Tony McVey, Phil Skinner, my dad Bill Moffatt and my wife Angel.”
Moffatt, 37, a three-time sprint car champion at Lawrenceburg Speedway also commented on this past season. “It’s always been a dream of mine to race at the national level, and I’ve finally got the chance and I look forward to next year.”
Moffatt wound up eighth in the final Silver Crown standings. Dakota Jackson of Elizabethtown, another rookie in the division, finished 21st in points.
Moffatt’s plans for 2018 are the same as this past season — running the full USAC Silver Crown schedule and approximately 20 shows locally and with USAC in his 410-sprint car.
Justin Grant of Ione, California, secured the $5,000 Mike Curb “Super License” in memory of Bryan Clauson and the $2,500 ProSource “Fast Time” Award. The former was for scoring the most National points combined in the three series, while the latter was for posting the most National fast qualifying efforts during the campaign.
Car owner National champions for 2017 included the Columbus-based Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports (Midget), DePalma Motorsports of Lima, Ohio (Silver Crown), and Baldwin Brothers of West Lafayette (Sprint).
The Keith Kunz-owned Toyota Racing and IWX Motorfreight sponsored cars, with Pete Willoughby of Columbus serving as team manager, just as he has since 1997, took Bayston to the Midget series crown and secured five of the top ten in the final championship points standings. Other Kunz/Curb-Agajanian drivers in the top 10 included Tanner Thorson (fourth), Holly Shelton (eighth), Tanner Carrick (ninth) and Jerry Coons Jr. (10 th).
Emcees Pat Sullivan, Dillon Welch and Butch Lamb orchestrated the presentations, which included driver and car entrant champions, Rookies of the Year, Most Improved Drivers and special award recipients.
Among items presented to the 2017 champions were championship rings from Josten’s, trophies, plaques, Hoosier jackets, medallions, distinctive art canvases and remote-control TRAXXAS trucks.
USAC President Kevin Miller presented USAC Special Appreciation Awards to President and CEO Greg Gill, representing the Pirelli World Challenge (corporate) long-time USAC Western publicity director Lance Jennings (individual) and long-time USAC supporters and car owners Roger and Barb Tapy for their contributions and dedicated service to the racing community.
Kody Swanson received the Jason Leffler Award in recognition of his intense appreciation of the sport’s history reflected in his professionalism and outstanding representation as an ambassador of the United States Auto Club, exhibiting the same standard of ideals upheld by the late Jason Leffler during his USAC racing career.
USAC’s 2016 National “Race Organizer of the Year” award was presented to Dave and Kim Rudisell of Lawrenceburg Speedway. Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis was named USAC’s “Most Improved” National Driver of 2017.
USAC’s 2017 “Chief Mechanic of the Year” award went to Derek Claxton, who orchestrated Windom’s drive to the AMSOIL National Sprint Car title.
Second- and third-place drivers and car entrants in USAC’s National racing series also received their year- end recognition and awards. All USAC driving champions were also presented one-year memberships by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.
Final 2017 USAC Silver Crown Points Standings: 1. Kody Swanson 650; 2. Jerry Coons Jr. 862; 3. Chris Windom 525; 4. Justin Grant 470; 5. David Byrne 436; 6. Aaron Pierce 402; 7. Bobby Santos 350; 8. Joss Moffatt 302; 9. Joe Liquor 295; 10. Damion Gardner 248.
Final 2017 USAC Midget Points Standings: 1. Spencer Bayston 1,472; 2. Shane Golobic 1,416; 3. Brady Bacon 1,403; 4. Tanner Thorson 1,392; 5. Justin Grant 1,316; 6. Tyler Courtney 1,290; 7. Chad Boat 1,154; 8. Holly Shelton 1,055; 9. Tanner Carrick 985; 10. Jerry Coons Jr. 849.
Final 2017 USAC National Sprint Car Points Standings: 1. Chris Windom 2,290; 2. Justin Grant 2,284; 3. Kevin Thomas Jr. 2,232; 4. Tyler Courtney 2,166; 5. Chase Stockon 2,052; 6. Chad Boespflug 1,974; 7. C.J. Leary 1,869 8. Robert Ballou 1,820; 9. Brady Bacon 1,765; 10. Dave Darland 1,492.
Kunz cars in action this weekend
Matt Crafton, the two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, will make his midget-car debut in a Keith Kunz-owned entry Saturday for the Junior Knepper 55 at the Southern Illinois Center in DuQuoin, Illinois.
Joining Crafton on the team will be 2017 Camping World Truck Series champ Christopher Bell and 2017 USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year Tanner Carrick. A total of 56 cars are pre-entered for the event.
For more info, visit usacracing.com.
James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Republic. Send comments to email@example.com.