MERCED, Calif. — 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.