LITTLE ROCK, Ark. —Another birthday translated into another win for Sammy Swindell as he wired the field in Saturday night’s 26th annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires 40-lap finale atop I-30 Speedway’s high-banked, quarter-mile clay oval.
After locking into his 11th career STN finale with a win in Thursday’s preliminary feature, the veteran shoe bested son Kevin Swindell in the opening pair of corners and was in firm command the rest of the way as he celebrated his 58th birthday by collecting the $15,000 winner’s share over this year’s STN field of 105 competitors from 21 different states.
Swindell took the top spot in the 40-lapper that was interrupted by a pair of cautions at the lap 19 mark and ultimately beat Christopher Bell and Friday night winner Anthony Nicholson to the checkered flag.
In an unlikely turn of events, the elder Swindell landed on the pole of the night’s Dash when Kevin pulled the number one card in the Cheater’s Day style draw during a rain delay of nearly four hours following the “D” Mains. After a couple of minutes of deliberation, Kevin handed the pole position to his father, commenting “Happy Birthday.”
It was all Sammy Swindell from there as he added his third career STN triumph and second in three years after previous scores in 2011 and 1990.
Swindell won the Dash with ease to earn the pole for the $84,175 feature, with Kevin making the move from third to second to start alongside his father in the main event.
And, after the pair entered turn one side-by-side on the initial lap and rubbed wheels, Sammy set the pace with Kevin giving chase for the first half of the race.
While Sammy slipped away by several car lengths early until traffic came into play after just eight laps, Kevin closed in to Sammy’s tailtank on the 13th round and kept the heat on Sammy until looping it exiting turn four on the 20th round.
With Kevin Swindell taking it pitside, seventh-runner David Gravel was pinched into the frontstretch wall on the restart and lost the right front wheel exiting turn two, collecting Channin Tankersley and Seth Bergman in the melee with all three done for the night.
Battling past Nicholson for position on the 16th lap, 18-year-old Bell restarted on Swindell’s tailtank in position to challenge for the win after starting tenth. Swindell’s Big Game Tree Stands No. 1 proved to stout though, gunning into the lead and slipping away from Bell and company.
Swindell opened a straightaway advantage in short order and, despite traffic over the final nine laps, was able to take the checkered flag with a comfortable advantage.
Bell jumped the cushion in Brandon Berryman’s No. 31b to allow Nicholson back into second on the 21st lap before regaining the position on the 25th round and then distancing himself from the remainder of the field to snare runner-up honors for the second year in a row.
Nicholson rounded out the podium in his first career STN championship feature start, Johnny Herrera crossed the stripe fourth in his first STN final start since 1990 and Shane Stewart was among the top five for the sixth time after winning the night’s Second “B” Main.
Sammy Swindell, Christopher Bell, Anthony Nicholson, Johnny Herrera, Shane Stewart, Chad Kemenah, Ray Allen Kulhanek, Terry McCarl, Dustin Morgan, Brandon Hanks, Randy Hannagan, A.G. Rains, Tyler Thomas, Derek Hagar, David Gravel, Channin Tankersley, Seth Bergman, Kevin Swindell, Kraig Kinser, Joe Wood Jr., Tim Shaffer, Danny Lasoski.