HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – During ‘The Classic 3 Championship’ weekend at Rockingham Speedway, Travis Swaim and Dillon Bassett not only had the responsibility of focusing on the race, but the UARA-STARS Late Model Series championship as well.
After Bassett secured the Sunoco Pole Award, Swaim only led the championship standings points by 66 points. Swaim’s team played out the different scenarios of how the race could go and where they needed to finish to maintain the points lead.
The team was truly tested when Swaim started running hot only a few laps into the race. As he began to fall back into the field, the power steering on his machine was starting to fail. The only option was to come in to work on their car under green.
While Swaim’s team hustled to get back on the track, Bassett focused on winning the race. With the pressures of a potential championship, the 15 year-old rookie battled with Clay Rogers the entire race. Only to come up one position shy, Swaim was declared the official 2012 UARA Champion with an 18 point led. After a hard day of battling his race car, Swaim was relieved that his team’s hard work paid off.
Swaim’s team were not the only ones figuring out the different scenarios, as UARA officials had to be on their toes and prepared for anything on race day. According to the calculations, if a tie fell between the two drivers, the tie breaker would be the amount of wins.
With both drivers having two wins this season, the officials had to look for another tie breaker, which would be the most runner-up finishes. Both drivers had two runner-up finishes prior to Rockingham. The next tie breaker would favor the driver who had the most third place finishes. Swaim lead with three while Bassett had two.
Prior to the season, both drivers had no intention on running for the championship. They were looking for experience and the development of new teams. After running the first couple races, they saw the potential their teams had and changed their goal.
Swaim ended up finishing 24th of 26 cars at Rockingham, while Bassett finished second behind race winner Clay Rogers. However, that wasn’t enough for Bassett to upend Swaim for the 2012 UARA-STARS Late Model Series championship.
“We’ve won several championships in the NASCAR series at a local track, but never ran at 80 percent of the tracks on the UARA tour,” said Swaim. “After struggling through our first race, we won the pole at Dillon. Then won the pole again at Rockingham, so it wasn’t until our first visit to The Rock that we realized we could run with these guys.”
In the end, Swaim won the championship by a mere 18 points. Despite finishing second in the standings, Bassett still earned the 2012 UARA-STARS Rookie of the Year Award.
“We just wanted to come out and run good, since it was our first season,” said Bassett. “We wanted to contend for the Rookie of the Year title, and never thought we would be championship contenders. As the season progressed, we started getting better and better. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”