FONTANA, Calif. – Kevin Swindell raced at Auto Club Speedway for the first time this weekend, as the No. 98 Biagi-DenBeste Racing team made their 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) debut.
After recording the 10th-quickest lap in practice and qualifying 17th for the race, Swindell brought his No. 98 Ford Mustang home in the 10th position in Saturday's Royal Purple 300.
Feeling confident for Saturday morning's qualifying session, Swindell laid down the 17th-quickest lap, locking himself into the field and earning the highest qualifying position of the cars that needed to qualify in on speed.
Swindell quickly went to work in Saturday's 150-lap event, moving into the 14th position by lap 9. He let his team, led by crew chief Jon Hanson, know that his No. 98 Ford Mustang was loose coming out of the corners and that he lacked overall grip.
Over the next 10 laps, Swindell's car began to move from a loose-handling condition to a tight-handling condition as he continued to race in the 14th position.
When the first caution flag waved for debris, on lap 34, Swindell was in 13th. Looking to correct his tight-handling car, Swindell came to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. When the field went back to green-flag racing on lap 39, the No. 98 Ford Mustang was in 18th.
Swindell quickly went to work, gaining five positions before the next caution on lap 45. The Biagi-DenBeste Racing team kept Swindell out under that caution period, and he raced his way to the 11th spot on lap 63.
Swindell made a green-flag pit stop on Lap 80 and returned to pit road under the caution flag on lap 95. Restarting in 16th position, Swindell had maneuvered his No. 98 Ford Mustang to 12th when the final caution flag waved on lap 110.
He returned to the pits for four tires, fuel and a final adjustment before restarting in 16th on lap 116. Over the final green-flag run of the 300-mile race, Swindell worked his way up to seventh on lap 125 but settled for a 10th-place finish as his car returned to a tight condition in the race's final laps.
"Overall I would say we had a pretty good day, especially for our first time out this season," commented Swindell. "I've got to thank my team for all the hard work.
Our car wasn't too bad, but we did have some runs where it was really tight, including the end of the race. We really have something to build on, and I am looking forward to our next race."
Swindell and the No. 98 Biagi-DenBeste Racing team will return to the track in the next NNS race, the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300, at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, April 12.