Swanson masters Little 500 qualifying
May 25—ANDERSON — For the fourth time in his career, Kody Swanson has captured the pole position for the 75th running of the Lucas Oil Little 500.
Swanson posted the fastest four laps Thursday at Anderson Speedway and will lead the 33-car field to the green flag 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.
Defending race winner Tyler Roahrig will start on the inside of the front row and was only .04 of a second off Swanson's time.
Rookie Jake Trainor will start on the outside of the front row.
A total of 37 cars made qualifying attempts with the fastest 15 drivers locking into the starting field.
The final starting field will be set during Friday's bump day.
Emerson Axson, C.J. Leary and Billy Wease will make up the second row.
During the practice sessions, there were several drivers turning laps in the 10.9-second range, but the track surface changed in the heat of the day.
Swanson was one of the first drivers to make a qualifying attempt.
"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 and Jack by a whisker."
He said the car was probably better than he was during the qualifying attempt.
"I left a little bit on the table, and I hate doing that," Swanson said. "It seems we got away with one anyway."
He said starting up front is an advantage because in recent years the Little 500 has become a track-position race.
Roahrig said starting on the front row makes the 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 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. "(With) 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.
Two-time winner Jacob Wilson, subbing for Scott Hampton, qualified 17th, and two-time winner Jeff Bloom could only post the 34th-best time on the day.
Travis Welpott led the Madison County contingent by posting the 19th-quickest time followed by Jacob McElfresh at 26th.
Anderson's Doug Fitzwater, looking to make his first Little 500 start, is 31st and will have to ride out bump day Friday.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.