MEADVILLE, PA - April 2, 2001 - In World of Outlaws sprint car racing, having the right tires is an undeniable necessity and an ongoing source of frustration. Sammy Swindell and the Channellock Racing team suffered tire trouble on a number of...
MEADVILLE, PA - April 2, 2001 - In World of Outlaws sprint car racing, having the right tires is an undeniable necessity and an ongoing source of frustration. Sammy Swindell and the Channellock Racing team suffered tire trouble on a number of fronts last weekend at Fort Worth, Texas.
The two-day event at Fort Worth began on Thursday, March 29th. Swindell felt confident about his team and his car, and he had every right. He qualified the #1 Channellock Stealth 11th fastest, then drove it to second in the third O'Reilly Heat Race of the evening, and prepared to be a strong competitor in the Preliminary Feature. But Swindell's hopes were dashed when Dale Blaney flipped during the Feature and landed on the Channellock car. The incident damaged the car enough to relegate Swindell to a 15th place finish, while Blaney finished last.
"There wasn't much we could do about that one," said Swindell following the race. "We were heading for a good finish before that happened. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble on Friday and have a good setup to make up for it."
But there was more frustration to come.
The Channellock team struggled with finding the right tire compound during qualifying on Friday. Swindell qualified 18th out of 49 making an attempt - not a bad number, but not where Swindell is accustomed to being. "It's tough to test new compounds in such a busy series because the only opportunity you have is under competition," said Swindell.
Finishing fifth in the third O'Reilly Heat Race left Swindell to run the B-Feature before claiming his starting position in the A-Feature. He made the cut by finishing third, but lined-up deep in the field having not secured a top-ten starting spot through the Channellock Dash.
The three-time series champion picked his way through the field during an accident-riddled A-Feature. He was challenging for a top-ten finish in the 37th lap when his right rear tire suddenly blew out, stopping the Channellock car and relegating Swindell to the back of the pack for the restart. In the final three laps, Swindell demonstrated why he should never be counted out. Despite his tire woes, he made his way up to 15th position by the time the checkered flag waved.
"Our tires just seemed to put us behind this weekend in one way or another," said Swindell at the conclusion of the Southern Bleacher Classic. "We really should have been in the top-ten or even top-five both nights, but either missed the tire setup in qualifying or had something else happen to us. We need to concentrate now on Houston. We finished strong there late last season, and we plan to use much the same setup that worked so well there. I'm hoping that will give us the boost we need to get things going in our direction."
Running a limited 2001 schedule, Swindell's next appearance on the World of Outlaws trail will be the "Texas Shootout" on April 6th and 7th at Houston Raceway Park. The April 6th race will be televised on TNN, The National Network at 9:00 ET.
- Randy Ferguson