Swindell Still Undefeated at Merced

Sammy Swindell

Swindell led laps 14-40. (Photo: Dave Shank)

Complete Results

There was no need to panic. The pieces were laid out, just not put together.

On a perfect California Friday evening, Sammy Swindell completed the puzzle to capture his first World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season and his third consecutive to remain undefeated at Merced Speedway.

“This track has been good to me,” he said. “We’ve been here three times and have gotten the same result. I’m looking forward to coming back here again.”

While Swindell wasn’t ready to give up on the season after the first 10 races – when he recorded only one top-five finish and four top 10s – Merced was a sight for sore eyes. Swindell had a marvelous record at the third mile in the only two previous World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series events. He qualified in the top four both times, finished in the top four in his heat race both times and placed in the top four of the dash both times.

Oh, and he led an impressive 79 of the 80 feature laps.

That trend continued on Friday when Swindell, who went out last to qualify, timed in sixth quickest on a track that had slowed dramatically. He then placed third in his heat race and second in the dash to earn a spot on the front row of the 40-lap feature.

Yet it was NASCAR sensation Kyle Larson who jumped to the early lead. Larson led the first 13 laps before the right rear tire on his car popped going into turn one, giving the lead to Swindell.

“I think our car was good there to run with Kyle maybe in the last half of the race,” Swindell said. “His car was pretty good to start; mine was a bit tight, but the track was going to go away and the fuel was going to come out. I felt like we had something.”

With the bottom groove favored and only one caution the rest of the race, Swindell maneuvered through traffic perfectly. Championship points leader Daryn Pittman was able to close within three car lengths in traffic once, but Swindell was in control.

“Things went his way tonight,” Pittman said. “Some nights things go your way and put you in the right position to win the race. He’s awfully talented and when you give him a chance to win and put him on the front row, he’s awfully hard to beat.

“Tonight track position was really important. I think Larson was going to be pretty hard to beat if he didn’t have a flat.”

Californian Tim Kaeding, who along with Pittman are the only multiple feature winners this season, passed Chad Kemenah for third place exiting turn two with two laps remaining. It was his sixth top five in eight events this season.

“It’s been an awesome year,” Kaeding said. “Tonight really wasn’t where we needed to be, but we put ourselves in contention for a top five.”

Kemenah placed fourth and Paul McMahan ended fifth.

Shane Golobic was sixth, fast qualifier and new track record holder Joey Saldana seventh, Brian Brown eighth and Donny Schatz recorded the KSE Hard Charger Award after piloting from 16th to ninth. Jason Sides rounded out the top 10.

Related Topics:

World of Outlaws, Sammy Swindell

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