ANDERSON, IN – For the fourth time in his career Kody Swanson has captured the pole position for the 75th running of the Lucas Oil Little 500 presented by UAW. Swanson posted the fastest four laps Thursday at Anderson Speedway and will lead the 33-car field to the green flag on Saturday. The California driver turned the fastest lap of the day at 10.843-seconds around the high banked quarter-mile oval and the four fastest laps at 43.614-seconds. This is Swanson’s fourth Pole Position, moving him into a tie for third all time with Tom Cherry.
Defending race winner Tyler Roahrig will start in the middle of the front row and was only 4-one hundredths of a second off of Swanson’s time. Little 500 rookie Jake Trainor will start on the outside of the front row with an impressive four-lap time of 43.872. Emerson Axsom missed being in the front row by a mere 0.119 seconds and joined Swanson, Roahrig, and Trainor as the only drivers to lap in the 43-second range. He will start on the inside of row two alongside CJ leary and Billy Wease.
A total of 37 cars made qualifying attempts on Thursday and the fastest 15 drivers have been locked into the starting field, meaning they will not have to requalify. The final starting grid will be determined tomorrow, Friday May 26th, as drivers attempt to bump their way into the field
During Thursday morning’s practice sessions, there were several drivers turning laps in the 10.9-second range, causing some to question whether or not the track record would fall during qualifying. However, the track surface changed in the heat of the day. As track temps continued to rise, drivers visibly struggled for grip. Multiple drivers had spin outs during their qualifying runs due to a “slippery” track surface. Swanson was one of the first drivers to make a qualifying attempt and felt that track conditions during his attempt were favorable for his #77 Doran Binks Racing crew.
“I felt like the track slowed down,” Swanson said. “We went out early and maybe the track didn’t slow down quite as much. It helped us stay ahead of Tyler (Roahrig) and Jack (Trainor) by a whisker”. He said the car was probably better than he was during the qualifying attempt saying, “I left a little bit on the table and I hate doing that. It seems we got away with one anyway.” He said starting upfront is an advantage because in recent years the Little 500 has become a track position race.
Tyler Roahrig said starting on the front row makes the whole race easier at least for the first 100 laps. “We had a good car, a nice day,” he said. “It’s a battle between me and Kody (Swanson) again, which it has been the past couple of years.” Roahrig said he has a good car for the race and might have tried a little too hard during qualifying. “I’m happy,” he said. “With the sun out the track got hotter and hotter.”
Trainor said he didn’t know what to expect in his first time at Anderson Speedway. “This is awesome,” he said. “Pavement is what I do. Back home we race 30 times a year with winged midgets.” Trainor said he was surprised about his qualifying run. “Still trying to get over starting on the front row,” he said of the start. “Two of the best in the business starting under me, my best bet is to settle in and follow someone who will lead the way for me.”
Several drivers struggled to find speed during the day with former winner Bobby Santos III going out late in the qualifying session and posting the 13th fastest time. His speed was good enough to lock him into Saturday’s field, giving him his 10th Little 500 start. Two-time winner Jacob Wilson, subbing for Scott Hampton, qualified 17th and will look to see if that mark holds during Friday’s second round of qualifying. It will be his 14th start in the Little 500 and a good starting position as he eyes his third victory. two-time winner Jeff Bloom could only post the 34th best time on the day and is once again looking from the outside in. After a difficult Little 500 week in 2022, Bloom failed to qualify for the race on the 50th anniversary of his first win. In a similar position this year, he will be searching all night to find a little extra speed to qualify for his 43rd Little 500.
The 75th Annual Lucas Oil Little 500 presented by UAW is set to be run on Saturday, May 27th at 8:00pm. Final practice and Bump Day is set for Friday, May 26 from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Grandstand admission is free for fans Thursday and Friday, and race day tickets are reserved seating only and are $45 each. Tickets for the 75th Annual Lucas Oil Little 500 presented by UAW are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (765) 642-0206 ex. 121 or by stopping by the ticket office. Fans can also stream the event live via MAVTV on Floracing by clicking here to subscribe or stream.
-Jack Kessler Photo