INDIANAPOLIS – In Major League baseball, a player who steps up to the plate and gets a base hit one out of every three at-bats year-after-year is celebrated as one of the top players in the game and a potential Hall of Famer.
So what would you say about a driver who straps himself into a USAC Silver Crown car maybe three or four times per year, winning more than half of those starts, on average?
Then again, Tanner Swanson isn’t your average racer.
The Kingsburg, California veteran has found success in his career as a feature winner in all three of USAC’s National divisions: Silver Crown, National Sprint Cars and National Midgets. Early on in the decade, one would have pegged Swanson as a good bet to become a future USAC national champion.
Yet, over the past handful of seasons, those ambitions have changed, as he has scaled his schedule back to less than a handful of races per year.
Last year, Swanson was victorious in two of his three Silver Crown starts and finished second to his two-time series champion brother Kody Swanson in the other.
Right now, Swanson’s plans are to compete just three times this year: in this Saturday’s Phoenix Copper Cup at Phoenix Int’l Raceway and at the two Silver Crown events at Lucas Oil Raceway in May and July.
To the outside world, it’s difficult to fathom why someone as successful as Swanson would only put his racing talent on display so little. But at 21 years old, Swanson came to a crossroads and, now at 26, has found that the road he pursued suits him just fine.
“At the end of the 2012 season, Kody and I were both without Silver Crown rides,” Swanson recalled. “I was graduating college in May and felt like God was calling me to apply my life in a different direction. Things fell into place and I was presented with a great job and my heart wasn’t enjoying racing as much as I had in the past. I am really enjoying the schedule that I am keeping right now, and have been fortunate enough to remain competitive.”
Swanson once did compete on a regular basis in USAC’s Silver Crown division, albeit briefly from 2010 to 2012, earning the first of his seven career series wins in 2010 at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway and finishing fifth in the standings in 2012, before dialing back to a limited schedule in 2013.
Since that point four years ago, Swanson has a .600 winning record in 10 Silver Crown starts, with six triumphs (five at Lucas Oil Raceway and once at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill.) and a pair of second-place finishes. The only two finishes outside the top-two in that span have come by virtue of misfortune.
In 2014, he led 16 laps in the early-going at Gateway before falling out due to transmission issues and, in 2015, looked poised for victory at Ohio’s Toledo Speedway when he and a lapped car got together on the front straightaway, sending Swanson into a frightening and violent flip that he was, thankfully, able to walk away from.
All that success in the past four seasons has come with the Bowman Racing team. Although he wishes he could say that after a nine-month layoff he can simply hop into a race car and put it up front, Swanson admits it takes an entire team effort from top-to-bottom to get to the level of success he has attained with Bowman.
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