RISING SON: Eckerd Outlaw Showdown Is Kevin Swindell's First World of Outlaws Victory CONCORD, N.C. -- May 25, 2006 -- Kevin Swindell has been in victory lane many times at World of Outlaws events, usually helping his father, Sammy, celebrate...
RISING SON: Eckerd Outlaw Showdown Is Kevin Swindell's First World of Outlaws Victory
CONCORD, N.C. -- May 25, 2006 -- Kevin Swindell has been in victory lane many times at World of Outlaws events, usually helping his father, Sammy, celebrate one of his many victories in his Hall of Fame career. But on Wednesday night the roles were reversed as Kevin powered around The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway to earn the first World of Outlaws Sprint Series victory of his career.
At 17, Kevin Swindell now is the youngest driver to win a World of Outlaws event, leading all 25 laps in the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown in the York Excavating Maxim, matching his father who won the inaugural World of Outlaws event at the track on May 25, 2000.
Chad Kemenah in the Underground Utilities Inc. Eagle tried to run down Swindell, but each time Swindell managed to open up an advantage and hold off Kemenah, who finished second. In traffic Kemenah closed on Swindell and made a couple of attempts to get closer, but a late caution allowed Swindell to take the final green flag with clear track in front of him. A master of restarts all night, Swindell pulled away and extended his lead in the waning laps to roll into the RacinSoles Victory Lane for the first time, claiming $10,000 in the process.
Brooke Tatnell caught Kemenah in traffic late in the race and was challenging for the runner-up spot. He settled for third, marking his sixth top-five finish of the year in the Race Outfitters/Castrol Eagle.
Tim Shaffer, in his first start for the injured Terry McCarl, came home fourth in the Big Game Treestands Eagle while current World of Outlaws championship points leader Donny Schatz came from 11th in the ParkerStore J&J to round out the top five.
Jason Meyers, a four-time World of Outlaws winner in 2005, was sixth in the Elite Landscaping Maxim with Daryn Pittman in the Titan Garages & Carports Maxim, Joey Saldana in the Dodge/Curb Records JEI, Craig Dollansky in the Karavan Trailers Maxim and Tyler Walker in the Volcano Joe's Coffee Maxim rounding out the top 10.
Swindell not only was proud of the win for himself, but he backed up a prediction he made on Tuesday evening during the practice session after learning Mean 15 racer Randy Hannagan had to leave the track to fly home to his native California to be with his ailing mother, Margie, who used to help watch Swindell while his father raced.
"Since Randy can't be here, we want to make sure a No. 1 is in victory lane," Swindell said on Tuesday, referring to the car numbers on his and Hannagan's machines. Gary Wright drove the Terry Hannagan Racing Maxim on Wednesday in the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown.
Swindell, who at 17 has raced for 10 years, built some sizeable advantages on the fast track, but cautions wiped out that lead each time.
"We got into traffic a little bit and got into dirty air, it upset the car," said Swindell, of Germantown, Tenn. "It gets a whole lot dustier when you are behind those guys, and it makes it hard to run good laps. I was happy to get out of it. Then we got down to enough laps where I knew I would not catch the lapped cars again. It was fairly easy, I didn't make any mistakes."
For Swindell, the victory means even more because his father is a three-time World of Outlaws champion and was turning the wrenches Wednesday night on Kevin's car, giving him a chance to share in the moment.
"It means everything," Kevin Swindell said. "He's done this all and put his time and effort into it, and we finally have something good to show for it. It's just great."
For the past couple of weeks, Swindell had been racing stock cars on pavement, but it didn't take long for him to requaint himself with The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I feel more comfortable in these cars than I do anything," he said. "I was happy to come back, and it's pretty easy when you have this good of a car. They put an excellent car under me, and it was up to me to not screw it up."
With fans crowd the grandstands, Swindell wasn't the only one smiling on Wednesday night. H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, the President and General Manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, was pleased the fans got to see a great race, which included a huge fireworks display during the World of Outlaws traditional four-wide salute.
"We're delighted to have the Outlaws back," Wheeler said. "They've always been a favorite of mine and they have a lot of new blood in it. We're really looking forward to seeing the Outlaws continue to make a great comeback."
Kemenah took the initial lead when the green flag waved, but a red flag on the first lap forced a complete restart. Still, Kemenah's runner-up finish helps him in the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented By Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt.
"We're really tickled," said Kemenah, of Findlay, Ohio. "We have struggled as of late, and tore up some race cars. We've been finishing lately, but not finishing where we want to be. We had a good first start there and then the circumstances with the red flag. Kevin ran good and my hat goes off to him. As a team we're real happy to come out of here with a second. The racetrack was absolutely beautiful. The fans got to see a pretty good race."
Swindell pulled away on numerous restarts, but his blistering pace got him into lapped traffic several times, giving Kemenah and Tatnell a couple of opportunities to let Swindell know they were coming. Once under caution Kemenah even pulled right beside the youngster.
"We didn't want to see those yellows," Kemenah said. "I know in traffic I was a lot faster than him and was catching him. That's just the way the racing luck goes sometimes, and you take them as they come."
Kemenah, along with his brother and crew chief Brian, is preparing for a stretch of races that will take the Mean 15 to 11 different tracks in 13 days, beginning Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
"We're feeling really good," Kemenah said. "Eleven races basically back-to-back is good for us. We are used to that with the Ohio Speedweek, where we race 10 days in a row. We're really looking forward to it and hopefully we can carry out some good luck and get some good finishes."
Tatnell set the second-fastest time in qualifying and ran in the top-five the entire race. He wound up third after battling with Kemenah on the smooth and fast track. He also was the first driver to congratulate Swindell on his victory.
"We were pretty good on the bottom, and that's how we got up to where we were," said Tatnell, a native of San Souci, NSW, Australia. "We definitely needed lapped traffic. Kevin did an awesome job. He started up front and led all the way. Chad Kemenah is not the easiest guy in the world to beat, either."
Like all the other teams, Tatnell and his crew are looking forward to the next two weeks, and getting plenty of races under their belts.
"We do have a crew guy down, and it will make it tougher on the two guys we have, but we've been through adversity before," Tatnell said. "We're really confident in what this team can do. I have two of the greatest guys in the world working for us in Troy and Ray. I have faith in them and they have faith in me and this whole organization."
Tim Shaffer was impressive in his debut in McCarl's machine. McCarl, who was third in points coming into the event, is recovering from a leg injury he suffered during a driveline component failure in his car on Saturday night at Sharon Speedway. Shaffer, of Aliquippa, Pa., recovered from some damage in the dash to turn in a solid fourth-place finish in the main event.
"It's great for us and great for Terry both," Shaffer said. "He has an excellent team here. The group he has built here doing it on his own, I really respect that."
Shaffer was one of the many drivers taking part in a practice session on Tuesday night at the track. It allowed him to settle into the car for the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown.
"It's why we did the hot laps last night, to get familiar with it," Shaffer said. "The car felt great right off the bat, and it was up to me to adapt to it. We had some trouble in the dash, but we got back up there in the feature. Traffic makes it fun, and mixes it up pretty good. Anytime you get lapped traffic involved it makes it interesting, and gives you more of a chance if you hit it right. The car was awesome tonight."
Donny Schatz retained his points lead with a steady fifth-place run. After having some trouble in his heat, Schatz dominated the B-Main, started 11th in the feature and sliced his way through the field in the 25-lap race to pull out a top-five.
"We're glad to leave here with a finish," Schatz said. "There is a lot of racing coming up, and we'll just keep plugging away and try to get in victory lane."
In group qualifying, Justin Henderson powered the Jolt Energy Gum/Race Girl Schneethe first quick time of his career, with an AMB-i.t-timed lap of 12.461 seconds.
"I watched the board through the first session and I thought right then we were pretty good," Henderson said. "I was waiting for Forbrook's car to come out because I know they've got a hard hitter and a good program. After Tyler didn't beat us I knew we were pretty good so I sat up in the stands and watched. Joey Saldana put down a good lap, but I knew we were good."
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series is brought to the fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Hoosier Racing Tire and The Outdoor Channel. Promotional Partners include AMB i.t. and The University of Northwestern Ohio. Associate sponsors are ButlerBuilt Motorsports Equipment, Maxim Racing, RacinSoles and Snap-on. Contingency sponsors include DART Machinery, MSD Ignitions and Wrisco Industries.
ECKERD OUTLAW SHOWDOWN NOTEBOOK
* FAST QUALIFIER: Justin Henderson paced the 51-car field with a lap around the 4/10-mile oval in 12.461 seconds. For his qualifying effort, Henderson earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including Brooke Tatnell (4), Joey Saldana (3), Donny Schatz (2), and Tyler (1). The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway is a semi-banked 4/10-mile oval where Jeff Shepard holds the track record at 11.880 seconds.
* QUALIFYING EVENTS: Jason Johnson, Jason Solwold, Chad Kemenah and Kevin Swindell won the four heat races. ... Swindell stayed on the gas to win the dash. ... Greg Wilson grabbed the C-main victory while Donny Schatz topped the B-main.
* MAIN-EVENT WINNERS: Kevin Swindell's win Wednesday night at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway was his first World of Outlaws A-feature victory. There have now been 10 different winners in 14 race nights to visit the RacinSoles Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws this season. The win list also includes Jac Haudenschild (May 6 at U.S. 36 Raceway and May 20 at Sharon Speedway), Sammy Swindell (April 8 at Eldora Speedway and March 10 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as well as a preliminary victory April 7 at Eldora), Donny Schatz (March 9 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 31 at Batesville Speedway, April 1 at I-55 Raceway and May 16 at Grandview Speedway), Craig Dollansky (April 15 at Tri-State Speedway), Paul McMahan (March 4 at USA Race Park), Danny Lasoski (March 3 at Manzanita), Joey Saldana (Feb. 10 at Volusia) and Chad Kemenah (Feb. 9 at Volusia), Kevin Swindell (The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway).
* 4/10-MILE WINNERS: The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway is a 4/10-mile oval. The series has raced one time this season on a track that size, with Kevin Swindell picking up the victory.
* SIGNING DAY: After spending Tuesday afternoon at Charlotte-area Eckerd stores, the Mean 15 drivers signed autographs Wednesday afternoon during a pit party with their cars serving as the backdrop. Not only did fans have the chance to get autographs and pictures from their favorite drivers, they also received souvenir Eckerd duffle bag that included bottles of water, which came in handy on the hot and sunny afternoon.
* ON TELEVISION: The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on May 31 the Outlaw Eckerd Showdown from The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Action from Williams Grove will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on June 7. The Outdoor Channel is available nationwide through the DISH Network (Channel 153) and DIRECTV (Channel 606).
* UP NEXT: The cars and stars of the Mean 15 invade Posse Country on May 26 and 27 as the series heads back to Pennsylvania for two shows at Williams Grove Speedway. To wrap up the month of May, the Outlaws thunder into New York on May 29 at Orange County Fair Speedway and May 30 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park. June opens up with a return to Wayne County Speedway on June 1 in Orville, Ohio, for the first time in more than 20 years. The series then returns to the legendary Eldora Speedway on June 3 in Rossburg, Ohio, before heading west on June 4 to the Terre Haute Action Track.