Inside Line Promotions – TULSA, Okla. (Jan. 18, 2015) – Sammy Swindell’s return to a race car resulted in yet another win.
Swindell, who hadn’t competed since the famed Knoxville Nationals last August, powered to the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions last Tuesday to kick off the 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Raceway inside the River Spirit Expo Center.
“I hadn’t been in a car for about five months,” he said. “It was great to get back in the car, jump in and win in a race that had most of the good cars. I’ve been doing this one race a year for a long time and have always been competitive. People who said I couldn’t get back in the car after five months and be competitive, they don’t know me very well.”
Swindell led all 20 laps of the Race of Champions to capture his fourth win during the invitational. However, the positive momentum from the victory evaporated during his heat race on Wednesday’s preliminary night.
Swindell, who started on the inside of the second row, was running second in his heat race when a caution was thrown for debris on the track. Officials disqualified Swindell because a muffler came off his car.
“We had a new part on the car and it failed,” the five-time Chili Bowl champion said. “Sometimes I guess that happens. It was unfortunate and the consequences that came after that really made it tough for our whole week. We overcame a lot of obstacles to get back on track. We had a great car all week, just a little misfortune on that deal.”
That relegated Swindell to the back of a D Main, which he won to begin an epic march back toward the front. Swindell then rallied from 13th to second place in a C Main and he won a B Main after starting 14th, which earned him a transfer into the main event.
“I had enough confidence, but you never know if you’re going to get caught up in someone’s stuff or get bumped around,” he said. “I knew my car was good enough. It had to be the race track would slow up enough where we could start doing that. Passing can be a premium. You have to get a good enough race track where you can have multiple lanes.
“We won the D Main pretty easy once we got clear of it. When we got up to second in the C Main we didn’t take as many chances. Then we got in the B Main and we got right through there and won that. It’s pretty easy to get blocked there by having someone running the bottom and someone running the top.”
Swindell capped the night by rallying from 18th to fifth place in the main event, which was good enough to lock him into a B Main on Saturday.
The veteran closed the Chili Bowl Nationals on Saturday by advancing from fourth to second place in a B Main to earn the 16th starting spot in the 55-lap main event.
“At the start (the track) was too fast and there wasn’t really any place to go,” he said. “I started out running right on the bottom and then it moved up. Until the groove got way up the track there wasn’t enough room to slide somebody or pass somebody. My plan as usual was to get through halfway and then race a little harder toward the end.”
Swindell advanced into the top 10 by Lap 21 and he was up to third place following a caution on Lap 39. However, Swindell was caught in a melee on the restart as several cars bounced into each other, costing Swindell several positions.
He rebounded in the closing laps to record a fifth-place result, which marked his third top five in as many main events during the Chili Bowl.
“If you look at the circumstances anybody would have to be happy with that,” he said. “From our past I’m not extremely happy. We have cars capable of winning; the circumstances just didn’t play out. I’m happy with it, but I’d be happier if I had won.”
QUICK RESULTS –
Jan. 13 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – Race of Champions: 1 (4).
Jan. 14 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – Heat race: DQ (3); D Main: 1 (9); C Main: 2 (13); B Main: 1 (14); Feature: 5 (18).
Jan. 17 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – B Main: 2 (4); Feature: 5 (16).
SEASON STATS –
3 races, 1 win, 3 top fives, 3 top 10s, 3 top 15s, 3 top 20s
MEDIA LINKS –
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – John Christner Trucking
Established in 1986, John Christner Trucking has grown into a giant in the trucking industry. For more information, visit http://www.JohnChristner.com.
“John Christner has been huge,” Swindell said. “If it hadn’t been for him coming along we wouldn’t be able to do much of this at all. He’s been a great supporter for us and he’s been a great friend. It was nice of him to do all the things he’s done for us and continues to do for us.”
Swindell would also like to thank Freightliner of Tulsa, Spike, Esslinger and all of the various sponsors for their continued support.