Swindell Surprises With ARCA Pole

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Kevin Swindell earned his first ARCA Racing Series pole Friday at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. (Adam Fenwick Photo)

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — Defending Chili Bowl Midget Nationals champion Kevin Swindell drove to his first ARCA Racing Series pole Friday afternoon at Rockingham Speedway.

Swindell, driving the No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota, circled the one-mile asphalt oval in 24.763 seconds at 145.378 miles per hour. Swindell will make his first ARCA start of the year Saturday and first since making four starts in 2006.

“I feel like we’ve got a really good car, and the guys have worked really hard at the shop and this weekend,” Swindell said. “We didn’t test at all. I think we ran 30 laps yesterday, and brought up the 25-lap tires from the 81 (teammate Craig Goess) and ran some laps, and then ran two laps on a set of stickers, just to see where we’re at. We’ve done this basically on a shoestring budget, and it really says a lot as to what those guys can do with what we’ve got.”

Defending event pole winner Chad Finley qualified second ahead of championship contender Goess, who earned five bonus points towards the championship by qualifying third. Justin Marks and Steve Arpin completed the top five in qualifying.

The ARCA Racing Series awards bonus points to drivers who qualify in the top three positions, with the pole winner earning 15 points, second 10 points and third five points. Goess is now five points behind championship leader Patrick Sheltra, who qualified eighth, entering Saturday’s season finale.

“I’m a little disappointed, because I thought we were stuck there in second and that evened us up, so I was thinking in my mind that we had 10 (bonus points),” Goess said. “I wanted to pick up some points in qualifying, and we were able to do that. The other two guys we’re running with for the championship weren’t able to pick up any bonus points, so that definitely helps us out.”

Tom Hessert, who is only 20 points behind Sheltra in the chase for the ARCA championship, qualified 14th.