LEE, N.H. – For the 49th consecutive season, Sammy Swindell can call himself a winner.
Swindell entered last Saturday’s Northeastern Midget Ass’n race at Lee USA Speedway riding an epic 48-year winning streak. However, this year hadn’t yielded a triumph and the pavement winged midget event was his final scheduled race of the season.
“It was something I’d like to get done, but it’s like a lot of things were out of my control this year,” he said in reference to continuing the winning streak. “We didn’t get to race very much. Some of it with the weather the first part of the year and the way things played out later in the year.”
Saturday was the 21st race of the season and the first in seven weeks for Swindell, who was making his third start of the year in a winged midget for Bertrand Motorsports.
“It was the fifth or sixth race ever that I’ve ran one of these cars and it’s been so spread out,” he said. “Every time you go back it’s almost like starting over. All the tracks were different. This was the first time I went back to the same track with the same car. We had some confidence there. We had a good time the last time, but had one issue that we found after I’d ran it that was off. This time I was making some small changes.”
Swindell won his heat race after starting second. That result didn’t particularly matter as the 25-lap main event was lined up via a handicap system. Since it was Swindell’s second time at the track this year he lined up fourth – the best starting position he’s had in a pavement winged midget feature.
“The key was to get to the lead right away,” he said. “They threw a little bit of a question mark in there because the last couple of laps of the race before some guys had crashed and they put oil down the frontstretch and going into turn one. They were under some curfew issues and they were trying to speed things up. There was some speedy dry on the track. When we first went out it was pretty slippery. Since it was so cold they gave us a couple of hot laps before the race. One guy got in the stuff and spun. After that they blew the stuff off the top, but it was still really, really slippery. My plan was to make a run around the top. Once we got our warm-up laps in I knew there was no way that was going to work.
“On the start the guy on the inside of me didn’t get going so that left me the whole race track. I drove between the two guys in front about halfway, but I figured the bottom would be the best place to be. I was able to get ahead of the guy who started in front of me. Then I was on the guy who was leading, but it was where it was really narrow getting into turns one and two. The only choice I thought I had was to run the outside of him in turns three and four. The way he ran the first couple of laps he stayed out too much. When I took the lead he turned in early and I was able to stay in the gas and get around him.”
Swindell took the lead on lap four and pulled away to a victory by more than three seconds.
“That’s the first time I’ve had a car that drove that well all night and throughout the race,” he said. “The biggest help was going back to the same place and knowing where the racing line was and where the grip was. The last time we changed gears and changed some things. This time all we had to do was fine-tune some things. It made it easier.
“Thanks to Tim and his team for the opportunity. I’m glad we were able to get a win.”