Swindell Edges Shepard in CHANNELLOCK Finale By Richard Day BRISTOL, TN (June 9) -- Sammy Swindell and Jeff Shepard were virtually inseparable during the Second Annual CHANNELLOCK Challenge at Bristol Motor Speedway. The fast friends finished...
Swindell Edges Shepard in CHANNELLOCK Finale
By Richard Day
BRISTOL, TN (June 9) -- Sammy Swindell and Jeff Shepard were virtually inseparable during the Second Annual CHANNELLOCK Challenge at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The fast friends finished third and second, respectively, in Friday's Preliminary Feature, then rode motorcycles together before exchanging first place six times in one of the most exciting races in Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' history Saturday in the "A" Feature.
"That was a lot of fun," Swindell said after making his sponsor proud with his second CHANNELLOCK Challenge victory in as many years. "Jeff and I rode motorcycles about 100 miles through the mountains today. He was on a slower bike, so I had to let him lead a little bit. He gave me a lot of room, and I gave him room, and that's the way racing should be. There aren't a whole lot of guys you can race like that, but Jeff Shepard is a class act."
Swindell took the lead from the outside pole late in the opening lap and led the first 12. Shepard came back to lead laps 13 and 14, but the series' three-time champion led the 15th lap. Shepard led the next eight laps, and they exchanged the lead twice in the next two laps. Swindell led the final five to claim the $20,000 first prize.
TNN: The National Network televised all the action live for the second straight year.
Shepard won the CHANNELLOCK Dash by 2.8 seconds for the privilege of starting the 30-lap main event on the pole. Swindell, whose crew changed the gears in his #1 CHANNELLOCK Stealth after the dash, raced wheel-to-wheel with Shepard through most of the first lap of the main event before surging ahead in turn three.
Shepard challenged Swindell in almost every corner through the first six laps and was only .4 seconds behind when they entered lapped traffic during lap eight.
Shepard drove Guy Forbrook's #5 Wirtgen Maxim into the lead deep in the second corner two laps later, only to have Swindell come back with an inside pass in turn four.
Shepard won a back-straightaway drag race to take the lead during the 13th lap. Greg Hodnett opened the field ahead of the leaders when he spun in the second corner the next time around.
Swindell regained the lead with an low move through the third and fourth corners midway through the race. Shepard came back with an inside move into turn two the next time around.
Swindell made a run at Shepard late in lap 17 and was .29 seconds behind when they caught the back-markers again three laps later.
Fourth O'Reilly Heat Race winner Blake Feese crashed in the second corner two laps later, taking the leaders out of lapped traffic.
Swindell passed Shepard in the low groove entering turn four two laps after the green flag replaced the yellow. Shepard regained the lead with a similar move the next time around.
Swindell chased Shepard through the first corner and passed him deep in turn two early in the 26th lap. He was .4 seconds ahead when they entered lapped traffic three laps later and took the checkered flag with only a half-second to spare.
When asked if he was content with a runner-up finish, Shepard said, "Absolutely not. It's a lot of fun racing like that, but I didn't win it. We got close a lot of times. He put a little move on me going into one and it took the wind off the front of my car and made me slide high. You can really draft here. I did that and sling-shotted by him a couple of times in turn three. I'd get behind him and he'd carry me about 300 Rpms faster and I'd just dive right under him."
Second O'Reilly Heat Race winner Tim Shaffer ran the entire race in third place. Third O'Relly Heat Race winner Steve Kinser drove his #11 Quaker State Maxim into fourth place from inside the 10th row. Preliminary Feature winner Donny Schatz finished fifth, ahead of Craig Dollansky, James Chesson, Stevie Smith, Dale Blaney and Andy Hillenburg.
Smith, who finished in the top 10 in his first 11 seasons with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series, climbed from 11th to ninth place in the point standings with his eighth-place finish.
Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year candidates Jason Meyers and Brad Furr used provisionals to start the main event. Meyers passed 10 cars on his way to a 14th-place run, while Furr finished 26th. Furr leads Meyers by 179 points after 22 of 66 events.
The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series will race at Paducah International Raceway for the first time in two years Tuesday, then head to O'Reilly Auto Parts Speedway at Heartland Park Topeka for a $95,350 event Friday and Saturday.