LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – “With three wheels it was still better than anybody else, those guys better go back to work,” Sammy Swindell quipped after winning last year’s Short Track Nationals with a flat left front tire.
Race fans throughout the country and beyond will find out if those guys went back to work enough later this week as I-30 Speedway’s 25th Annual Short Track Nationals takes place this Thursday through Saturday following a Wednesday night Test ‘N Tune Session atop the high-banked, quarter-mile clay oval.
With a hefty winner’s share of $15,000 up for grabs and $2,500 to start the Saturday night STN championship main event and more than $100,000 in purse money distributed over the weekend, 86 different drivers from 19 different states as well as Canada have already entered the prestigious event with several more this week expected to push the total near the century mark or beyond.
Swindell is one of eight past STN winners among the current entries along with four-time victor Gary Wright, two-time winner Tony Bruce, Jr., and single-time winners Jason Johnson, Paul McMahan, Jason Sides, Wayne Johnson and Terry Gray. Wright, who ranks as the only driver to capture the top STN spot on more than two occasions, will be taking in his final STN this weekend before retirement at the conclusion of the season.
Swindell battled past perennial STN contender Shane Stewart 13 laps into last year’s STN finale and then beat Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon to the line for his first event win since 1990. Bacon settled for runner-up honors in front of Stewart, Danny Lasoski and Jason Sides. All five are among those entered for this week’s action.
While Sammy Swindell tries to defend his STN title, it’s Jeff Swindell that carries momentum into the weekend after a sweep of this past weekend’s Devil’s Bowl Winter Nationals aboard the Hammers No. 94 entry. Jeff Swindell has made it into five STN finales with seventh-place showings in 2008 and 2010 his best recent runs after a fifth-place outing in 1991.
Reigning NASCAR Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., enters with some momentum as well after an improbable Nationwide victory at Kansas Speedway on Saturday in which he came from two laps down to take the checkered flag. Stenhouse teams with Stenhouse / JJR stablemate Jason Johnson for the weekend.
A Wednesday night Test ‘N Tune Session from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. precedes the Thursday and Friday preliminary events, both of which include a full card of heat races, qualifiers, “B” Mains and “A” Main, with the top three from each night locking into Saturday night’s finale.
The rest of the field will battle through Saturday night’s championship slate of feature events that will include Twin “F” Mains (if necessary), Twin “E” Mains, Twin “D” Mains, Twin “C” Mains and Twin “B” Mains. With Saturday night’s features lined up based upon qualifying night point totals, the top seven from each Saturday “B” Main will fill out the 20-car, $79,175 STN championship main event.
Fans can still save $10 by purchasing tickets in advance by calling 501-455-4567. Advance tickets, available through Wednesday, are just $45 for all three nights of wild racing action. Tickets at the gate are $15 on both Thursday and Friday and then just $25 on Saturday.
While the grandstands will be packed each night at the high-banked, ¼-mile clay oval, the event will also be available at home worldwide via Pay-Per-View at www.shorttracknationals.com. Check the site for details and ordering info.