Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sammy Swindell maintains his dominance at Merced Speedway


Photo courtesy of World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars
Merced Speedway is the shortest track on the circuit but it is critically fast. There is such a thing as too fast of a track and also a thing as too short of a track. Last night Merced was both. 

Qualifying saw Joey Saldana break the track record with a lap of 10.823 seconds or 111.447 mph. On a long 1/3-mile track that is "hauling the mail" folks. Qualifying for the 31 cars registered was a quick and uneventful process with the slowest of the top 5 being Tim Kaeding with a lap of 11.051 seconds or 108 mph. 

The heat races showed the story of the night. It was deemed by officials that the track was simply too narrow to risk double file restarts so all restarts for the evening were single file. With minimal positions changing hands, basically where you started was where you finished. The pole sitter was the winner in every case. The heat race winners were Paul McMahan, Greg Wilson and Brian Brown.

The final heat would have the only caution flag when Steve Kinser and David Gravel got together while trying to avoid the spinning Shane Golobic. Both drivers were relegated to the back of the field and basically advanced very little from that point which put them both in the Last Chance Showdown. The second heat would see Donny Schatz get out of shape between Turns 3 and 4 but continue on; however, it cost him valuable track position and the final transfer position to the A Main.

The Dash inversion was a six (6) putting Kyle Larson and Sammy Swindell on front the row. That is how they finished and lined up for the A Main. Joey Saldana would do an engine change right before the dash. The only driver able to advance positions in the dash was Brian Brown who came from 10th to eighth, in the final finishing order.

The Last Chance Showdown had enough names in it to be an A Main - David Gravel, Steve Kinser, Donny Schatz, Kraig Kinser, Kerry Madsen, Austen Wheatley and Rico Abreu were all relegated to the event due to their qualifying position. In the end, the following drivers would transfer to the A Main: David Gravel, Steve Kinser, Donny Schatz, Jonthan Allard, Matt Mitchell and Warren Johnson. Kerry Madsen declined a provisional and Kraig Kinser is out of provisionals until July. 

The A Main saw Kyle “Yung Money” Larson jump out to a commanding lead that he would hold until Lap 13 when he blew a right rear tire and handed the lead to Sammy Swindell. Swindell would manage the traffic brilliantly only allowing Daryn Pittman to close within six car lengths at any time. Pittman had company from Tim Kaeding who was all over the tail tank of the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 9 to the start finish line. But with the narrow track, “TK” could not make the pass. Swindell would take the checkers with Pittman coming home second and Kaeding coming home third. 

"I think our car was good there to run with Kyle maybe in the last half of the race," said Sammy Swindell. "His car was pretty good to start; mine was a bit tight, but the track was going to go away and the fuel was going to come out. I felt like we had something."

"Things went his (Sammy Swindell) way tonight," said Pittman. "Some nights things go your way and put you in the right position to win the race. He's awfully talented and when you give him a chance to win and put him on the front row, he's awfully hard to beat. Tonight track position was really important. I think Larson was going to be pretty hard to beat if he didn't have a flat." 

Tim Kaeding who collected his sixth top 5 in eight events seemed happy just to come out in one piece. "It's been an awesome year," said Kaeding. "Tonight really wasn't where we needed to be, but we put ourselves in contention for a top five."

The KSE Hard Charger of the race was Donny Schatz who started 16th and came up to ninth. The seven spot gain was good enough for the award but was not indicative of what we normally see from the hard charger of the race award. Normally, we see 12 to 14 positions gained but tonight seven spots was a heroic effort. 

Merced Speedway is historic and it has been around since 1942. It has played host to the NASCAR Grand National Racing and saw Herb Thomas take home the trophy. For the 900 horsepower Mighty Wings of the Outlaws, this is Sammy Swindell’s track. He has won all three times they have come here to race. Tonight even the master magicians of speed were not up to the task of the shortest track on the circuit. They didn’t quit. They didn’t back down. But the show was not what we expect to see from the Outlaws either. Perhaps there will be another revision to the track to widen it out and lengthen its turn radiuses. Perhaps they will just make it a tad bit longer. Maybe if Sammy Swindell has his way they will do nothing at all and he will maintain his dominance here. Only time will tell. 

Qualifying - 1. 71M-Joey Saldana, 10.823; 2. 63-Chad Kemenah, 10.888; 3. 6-David Gravel, 10.979; 4. 9-Daryn Pittman, 11.039; 5. 83-Tim Kaeding, 11.051; 6. 1-Sammy Swindell, 11.070; 7. 77-Jac Haudenschild, 11.154; 8. 57-Kyle Larson, 11.160; 9. 121-Shane Golobic, 11.167; 10. 51-Paul McMahan, 11.192; 11. W20-Greg Wilson, 11.199; 12. 21-Brian Brown, 11.204; 13. 7S-Jason Sides, 11.217; 14. 21M-Jason Meyers, 11.234; 15. 11-Steve Kinser, 11.247; 16. 15-Donny Schatz, 11.258; 17. O-Jonathan Allard, 11.263; 18. 4-Cody Darrah, 11.295; 19. 83JR-Kyle Hirst, 11.297; 20. 88-Terry McCarl, 11.316; 21. 7-Craig Dollansky, 11.365; 22. 37-Matt Mitchell, 11.397; 23. 77X-Wayne Johnson, 11.435; 24. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 11.462; 25. 44W-Austen Wheatley, 11.470; 26. 24A-Rico Abreu, 11.499; 27. OO-Jason Statler, 11.565; 28. OOX-Cory Eliason, 11.569; 29. 29-Kerry Madsen, 11.590; 30. 88N-D.J. Netto, 11.607; 31. 21X-Carson Macedo, 11.705. 

Heat 1 - (10 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. 51-Paul McMahan [1]; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman [3]; 3. 77-Jac Haudenschild [2]; 4. 71M-Joey Saldana [4]; 5. 7S-Jason Sides [5]; 6. 83JR-Kyle Hirst [7]; 7. 21X-Carson Macedo [11]; 8. 15-Donny Schatz [6]; 9. OOX-Cory Eliason [10]; 10. 44W-Austen Wheatley [9]; 11. 37-Matt Mitchell [8]. 

Heat 2 - (10 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. W20-Greg Wilson [1]; 2. 57-Kyle Larson [2]; 3. 83-Tim Kaeding [3]; 4. 63-Chad Kemenah [4]; 5. 21M-Jason Meyers [5]; 6. 88-Terry McCarl [7]; 7. O-Jonathan Allard [6]; 8. 24A-Rico Abreu [9]; 9. 29-Kerry Madsen [10]; 10. 77X-Wayne Johnson [8]. 

Heat 3 - (10 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. 21-Brian Brown [1]; 2. 121-Shane Golobic [2]; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell [3]; 4. 4-Cody Darrah [6]; 5. 7-Craig Dollansky [7]; 6. OO-Jason Statler [9]; 7. 11K-Kraig Kinser [8]; 8. 11-Steve Kinser [5]; 9. 6-David Gravel [4]; 10. 88N-D.J. Netto [10]. 

Dash - (8 Laps, finishing order determined first 10 starting positions of A-feature) - 1. 57-Kyle Larson [1]; 2. 1-Sammy Swindell [2]; 3. 83-Tim Kaeding [3]; 4. 9-Daryn Pittman [4]; 5. 63-Chad Kemenah [5]; 6. 71M-Joey Saldana [6]; 7. 121-Shane Golobic [7]; 8. 21-Brian Brown [10]; 9. 51-Paul McMahan [8]; 10. W20-Greg Wilson [9]. 

B-Main - (12 Laps - Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature) - 1. 6-David Gravel [1] [-]; 2. 11-Steve Kinser [2] [-]; 3. 15-Donny Schatz [3] [-]; 4. O-Jonathan Allard [4] [-]; 5. 37-Matt Mitchell [5] [-]; 6. 77X-Wayne Johnson [6] [-]; 7. 24A-Rico Abreu [9] [$200]; 8. 11K-Kraig Kinser [7] [$180]; 9. 44W-Austen Wheatley [8] [$175]; 10. 21X-Carson Macedo [13] [$160]; 11. 29-Kerry Madsen [11] [$150]; 12. 88N-D.J. Netto [12] [$150]; 13. OOX-Cory Eliason [10] [$150]. 

A-Main - (40 Laps) - 1. 1-Sammy Swindell [2] [$10,000]; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman [4] [$5,500]; 3. 83-Tim Kaeding [3] [$3,200]; 4. 63-Chad Kemenah [5] [$2,800]; 5. 51-Paul McMahan [9] [$2,500]; 6. 121-Shane Golobic [7] [$2,300]; 7. 71M-Joey Saldana [6] [$2,200]; 8. 21-Brian Brown [8] [$2,100]; 9. 15-Donny Schatz [16] [$2,050]; 10. 7S-Jason Sides [13] [$2,000]; 11. 6-David Gravel [11] [$1,500]; 12. 4-Cody Darrah [18] [$1,200]; 13. 88-Terry McCarl [20] [$1,100]; 14. 57-Kyle Larson [1] [$1,050]; 15. 21M-Jason Meyers [14] [$1,000]; 16. 11-Steve Kinser [15] [$900]; 17. W20-Greg Wilson [10] [$800]; 18. 7-Craig Dollansky [21] [$800]; 19. 83JR-Kyle Hirst [19] [$800]; 20. 77-Jac Haudenschild [12] [$800]; 21. OO-Jason Statler [22] [$800]; 22. 37-Matt Mitchell [23] [$800]; 23. O-Jonathan Allard [17] [$800]; 24. 77X-Wayne Johnson [24] [$800]. Lap Leaders: Kyle Larson 1-13, Sammy Swindell 14-40. KSE Hard Charger Award: 15-Donny Schatz [+7].

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