TULSA, Okla. (Jan. 20, 2016) – Kevin Swindell had a successful debut as a car owner last week during the 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Presented by General Tire at Tulsa Expo Raceway.
Swindell, who recently created a midget team with Bernie Stuebgen of Indy Race Parts, helped crew Kevin Thomas Jr. to a B Main finish during the premier midget event of the season, which drew a record 336 competitors.
“I enjoyed it,” Swindell said. “It’s definitely a different feeling to watch your car out there and wonder if you made the right decisions. It’s by far more nervous on that side of it than being in the car. From where we started three weeks before it without having anything and going through adversity at the beginning of the week to making the best of it, it was a good week.”
The new team began on a sour note as the engine expired during practice night a week ago Monday. However, Heffner Racing Enterprises provided the team with an engine to use throughout the competition, which began on Tuesday with preliminary action.
“I want to thank everyone at Heffner Racing for helping us,” Swindell said. “We started off strong with a good run in a heat race and qualifier to lock into the main event.”
Thomas Jr. powered from fourth to second place in a heat race and from third to win a qualifier, which put him seventh in overall points to garner the seventh starting position for the 25-lap main event.
“We got to fifth pretty quick and was in line running around the top,” Swindell said. “We got to racing with (Zach) Daum and they got balled up through turns one and two. We got a big run into turn three and overdid the entry speed a bit sliding across the track. They all tried to check up in traffic and it was an accordion of things. We bounced and when we landed it stalled the engine. That put us to the back and we got back up to 14th. We were close; just one little bad situation.”
Thomas Jr. rebounded from the midrace miscue to place 14th. That locked him into the eighth starting position for a C Main during Saturday’s finale, which was broadcast live on MAVTV.
Thomas Jr. advanced from eighth to second place during the race to earn a transfer into the back of a B Main.
“In the B Main we got caught with one guy running the bottom and one guy running the top,” Swindell said. “We couldn’t go anywhere for the first eight laps or so. We finally got free, but it was strung out at that point. We needed to get further earlier.”
Thomas Jr. finished 11th to miss a transfer into the main event by five positions, which was a great feat considering the number of drivers competing all week.
“Tony (Stewart) and his team did a great job with the track,” Swindell said. “I know they had some trouble with the dirt being wet to start with. They didn’t have it too wet in the heat races so it let guys race from the get-go. It was a pretty good week. I think they did a good job.
“I also want to thank the entire Chili Bowl staff, the Hahn and Edwards families, the Steve King Foundation, the Pack family and everyone who participated in the 50-50 and sprint car raffles. I’m thankful to all of them for the support. It’s very special and humbling.”
QUICK RESULTS –
Jan. 12 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – Heat race: 2 (4); Qualifier: 1 (3); Feature: 14 (7); Race of Champions: DNF (15).
Jan. 16 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – C Main: 2 (8); B Main: 11 (16).
UP NEXT –
MEDIA LINKS –
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – John Christner Trucking
Established in 1986, John Christner Trucking has grown into a giant in the trucking industry. For more information, visit http://www.JohnChristner.com.
“John Christner Trucking has been an integral part of our program at the Chili Bowl for a long time,” Swindell said. “We appreciate the support and partnership that John and his team bring to our program.”
Swindell would also like to thank Mike Curb and Curb Records, MPI Steering Wheels, ButlerBuilt Professional Seat Systems, Arai Helmets and Racing Optics for their continued support.