Silver Crown
Tuesday, 1 October 2019


#6 Kyle Hamilton (Danville, Ind.) #6 Kyle Hamilton (Danville, Ind.) Cameron Neveu Photo


By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Speedway, Indiana (October 1, 2019)………The stark contrast between the 2018 and 2019 seasons for the Klatt Enterprises USAC Silver Crown team is the difference between night and day.  Perhaps, more to the point, it was the difference between mechanical woes/DNF’s to reliability/results en route to the 2019 series owner title.

Rewind to the beginning of 2018 where the decision was made by the team to acquire the talents of the two best Silver Crown free agents on dirt and pavement.  Two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ Brady Bacon was secured as the team’s dirt driver while 2017 Little 500 winner Kyle Hamilton was tabbed for the pavement.

Optimism was in abundance as Hamilton (Danville, Ind.) checked out in the opener at Phoenix, leading a race-high 54 laps and was head of the class when engine trouble spelled doom with 35 laps remaining, sending the team to the sidelines disappointed but hopeful that the strong run was indicative of what the year was going to bring.

Unfortunately, that part of the equation wouldn’t pan out, as the team became plagued by an onslaught of mechanical problems all throughout 2018.  Bacon was done after one lap on the dirt at Terre Haute, finishing 25th.  Hamilton reentered on the pavement of Toledo and was running well when an ignition issue knocked him out early.  Weeks later at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Bacon fell out with an engine issue, followed by a handling problem at Lucas Oil Raceway for Hamilton, a driveshaft issue at Madison for Hamilton and a clutch gone askew while Bacon led at Du Quoin early in the 100-miler.

The lone bright spots came in the form of a 5th for Hamilton at Salem and an 8th by Bacon in the Eldora finale.  A flip of the calendar from 2018 to 2019 was a welcome change for all involved, but as the 2019 season unfolded, it became apparent it was so much more than that.  Everybody from top-to-bottom, from crew to each driver, was nearly on point every time they hit the track whether on dirt or pavement.

A 2018 season that featured just three top-tens in 10 total starts improved to a perfect 10 – 10 top-tens in 10 starts in 2019, including just a single finish outside the top-five.

Hamilton had a 4th place result at Memphis after stopping early due to an accident in front of him, then charged from the tail of the field to grab the best finish of his Silver Crown career up to that point.  He followed suit with a 6th at Toledo where he was running in 2nd early, but a brief problem sent him to the back of the pack where he charged up through the field once again, twice overcoming adversity and sending a message that the story new year was being written in an entirely different manner with a happier ending.

Bacon, meanwhile, took over control on the dirt at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in May, scoring a solid 5th after starting 8th.  The following night, the team brought out it’s pavement car for a run at Lucas Oil Raceway where the patient Hamilton handled the second half of the race with grace, taking advantage of mechanical problems that befell leader Kody Swanson on a lap 54 restart.  However, he still had to fight off Bobby Santos who was able to whip by Hamilton with just a quarter of the race remaining, but Hamilton was undeterred, retaking the lead the following lap and racing away to his first career series victory.

“Last year, it didn’t seem like anything could go right mechanically,” Hamilton recalled.  “Our ‘Little 500’ car broke, my teammate Brady’s dirt car broke, we broke right out the box here at (LOR) and had to start the race from the tail with no practice laps.  This year, we qualified third tonight at LOR and I thought, ‘well, this is going a lot better.’  But, honestly, tonight was the night I was a little bit more worried about being slow.  We’ve always struggled here, and I didn’t want to disappoint my team, but I was a little nervous inside.”

“I grew up about 15 minutes from here and I’d always tell my buddies that we’re racing at LOR,” Hamilton continued.  “But I kind of hesitated because I was always so bad here.  To say we pulled one off in a Silver Crown car on a big night is pretty cool to me.”

With a mark now tallied in the win column, confidence was booming in droves at Williams Grove Speedway and Bacon was in position to pounce after falling back early when two different drivers, Steve Buckwalter then Chris Windom, both had misfortune during the final laps.  Bacon took over the lead on the final lap, leading only the final three turns to score his first win in the series as well.

“I knew we had a better car at the end,” Bacon noted following the victory.  “I was a little worried when we weren’t very good at the beginning, then I saw some tire issues come about.  Coming off turn two, I thought I had the win sewn up, but then I’m like, there’s no telling who’s behind me.  I don’t know how much I slowed down to miss (Windom), but I was pretty confident I had it.  I was just hoping they didn’t throw the yellow.  It feels like I should’ve won a couple of these, but glad to get my first one.  I love coming out here to PA.  This is a really cool place to win a race.”

Hamilton led a race-high 52 laps at Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway two weeks later, ultimately finishing 2nd, then ran 4th at Salem while Bacon led 23 laps and finished 5th on the dirt at the Du Quoin (Ill.) Mile Labor Day weekend, which proved to be a pivotal point in the season.  Kody Swanson’s Nolen Racing ride had engine trouble with multiple powerplants, forcing Kody to move over to the car owned and driven by Patrick Lawson, thus the Nolen team receiving 10 appearance points and Klatt receiving 58 for 5th.

The 48-point swing moved the Klatt team from a 33-point deficit to a 15-point advantage heading into the finale at Eldora Speedway on the final weekend of September following the rain cancellation of Springfield the week prior.  The objective was clear – to lock up the owner title, Bacon had finish at least 4th to lock up the title regardless of what Kody did.

However, that didn’t necessarily mean Bacon was planning on run a 4th place race.  Bacon had a car capable of winning, just as he and Hamilton both did all year long, as he tracked down leader Kevin Thomas, Jr. with 10 laps remaining to lock up his second career series victory and a first owner’s title for Terry Klatt of Hastings, Neb. in grand fashion.

On the road to the title, both Bacon and Hamilton improved their results at every single track from 2018 to 2019.  Klatt Enterprises became the first team since RW Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian in 2012 to win a Silver Crown owner title with split drivers for both surfaces and was the only team to win in the Silver Crown series this year on both dirt and pavement, a testament to the perseverance of team Klatt with a crew that includes USAC Hall of Famer Bob East and Dave Brzozowski.

“We worked really hard to turn the program around,” Bacon explained.  “We had a lot of misfortunes last year and they stepped it up.  We haven’t had any this year and had cars capable of winning every race we were at, and they had cars good enough to win all the pavement races they were at too.  I’m happy for them.  I’ve had a good relationship with Bob (East) over the years racing the No. 76m (Midget) and this.  It’s really awesome to win a championship for them.  I remember racing against Terry’s cars when I first started, the first year I raced in 2006 when Don Droud, Jr. was racing his midget in Kansas.  It’s just awesome to be part of a Silver Crown championship.”

Of all drivers who competed solely on the pavement in 2019, Hamilton finished highest in the points, securing a career-best 6th place result amongst all drivers in the final Silver Crown series standings.

“Thank you to everyone involved in making these races happen,” Hamilton said in a Facebook post.  “It was a great year with a win on the pavement and two on the dirt.  (It was) a full team effort.  I’m so honored to be a part of this organization.”



Mar 23: Memphis International Raceway – Kyle Hamilton started 2nd, finished 4th

Apr 28: Toledo Speedway – Kyle Hamilton started 2nd, finished 6th

May 23: Indiana State Fairgrounds – Brady Bacon started 8th, finished 5th

May 24: Lucas Oil Raceway – Kyle Hamilton started 2nd, finished 1st

Jun 14: Williams Grove Speedway – Brady Bacon started 3rd, finished 1st

Jun 28: Madison International Speedway – Kyle Hamilton started 3rd, finished 2nd

Aug 10: Salem Speedway – Kyle Hamilton started 6th, finished 4th

Sep 1: Du Quoin State Fairgrounds – Brady Bacon started 2nd, finished 5th

Sep 7: Lucas Oil Raceway – Kyle Hamilton started 6th, finished 3rd

Sep 28: Eldora Speedway – Brady Bacon started 4th, finished 1st