MEADVILLE, PA - July 23, 2001 - Three-time World of Outlaws series champion Sammy Swindell is running a limited schedule this year, and for that reason, has perhaps placed even more pressure on his team and himself to be their very best at each...
MEADVILLE, PA - July 23, 2001 - Three-time World of Outlaws series champion Sammy Swindell is running a limited schedule this year, and for that reason, has perhaps placed even more pressure on his team and himself to be their very best at each race in which they compete. That's why weekends like that at Eldora Speedway on July 20th & 21st can wreak havoc on a team's emotions as one night's fortune leads to the next night's frustration.
Swindell took fifth at the "Night Before the King's Royal," the precursor to Saturday night's "King's Royal," one of the crown jewels of the WoO schedule. Unfortunately, drive train problems knocked the 1997 champion out of the running for the "King's Royal" and its accompanying $50,000 purse.
Swindell turned-in the fourth fastest qualifying time on Friday's event with a 13.365-second ride around "The World's Fastest Half-Mile." He then chased Andy Hillenburg across the finish in the fourth O'Reilly Heat Race of the evening, securing a starting spot in the Channellock Dash, which would determine the first ten starting positions for the A-Feature. Swindell finished the Dash in sixth place, landing him a starting spot on the outside of the third row for the drop of the green flag.
In a feature race marked by a number of cautions for wrecks and spins, there were very few position changes. Swindell managed to earn a couple spots, eventually passing Stevie Smith for fourth place in the eighth lap. But he was unable to defend the spot, falling back to fifth, and was later passed by Donny Schatz following a caution for Jeff Shepard's stopped car on lap 23. He was able to regain the fifth position later in the race and defended it until the checkered flag waved. Hillenburg went on to win the event.
Saturday night's "King's Royal" proved to be a forgettable night for the Channellock Racing team. For starters, the race was rain delayed four hours before the program began.
Following a 24th-fastest qualifying run, the #1 Channellock Stealth broke a pinion gear tooth during the sixth O'Reilly Heat Race, causing Swindell to finish sixth and miss the cut for the Channellock Dash. After hasty repairs, Swindell attempted to qualify for the A-Feature by first running the B-Feature. But the Channellock car suffered serious vibrations throughout the race, which turned out to be courtesy of a bent drive shaft. Mechanical problems, tough competition and an equally tough racetrack kept Swindell from making his way through the B-Feature. He finished 16th and trailered the Channellock car before the A-Feature started.
Mark Kinser earned his first King's Royal Crown by recording the win.
"That was a big disappointment for us," commented Swindell following the long night. "Everything was really looking good coming into it, but there was either a problem with our setup or maybe a defective heat treat on that pinion tooth, and that setback was enough to set us back all night." The three-time series champion was optimistic about coming races in spite of his misfortunes at Eldora: "We know we've got good equipment and we've had a lot of success at these tracks coming up, so I'm sure everything will come back together in Pennsylvania and Maryland."
Swindell was referring to a week of competition that begins with the July 24th Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, PA. The Outlaws then travel to the eastern part of the state for a two-night event at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg on the 26th and 27th. The week ends with a single night race at Hagerstown Speedway in nearby Hagerstown, MD.