TULSA, Okla. (Jan. 18, 2016) – The 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Presented by General Tire was rough for Sammy Swindell.
The 2016 edition of the marquee midget event was anything but smooth for Swindell, who owns the most Golden Drillers for winning a record five Chili Bowl titles.
“It’s definitely been the worst,” he said. “We went through a lot of parts this week and didn’t get much to show for it. I got used up a lot of times and had people making mistakes in front of me with no place to go. I felt like my car was good most of the week. We did all we could.”
The event began last Tuesday with Swindell flipping during the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions at Tulsa Expo Raceway. It was the precursor for how the remainder of the week would go for Swindell, who returned to the bullring on Wednesday for preliminary action.
“We were in the right place for the first two starts of the heat race,” he said. “On the third one we got hung out and there wasn’t any place to go. I passed a car or two and had a good run for third or fourth. He’d been running the bottom and nobody was up around the middle or top. As soon as he saw me out there he slid up and took us to the top. We lost three spots right there. There was nothing I could do about that at all.”
Swindell ended with a sixth-place result after he had advanced from sixth to third place on two initial starts of the heat race that were called back. That relegated him to a C Main, where he rallied from sixth to second place to transfer into the back of a B Main. Swindell then maneuvered from 14th to third to transfer into the main event.
“They reworked the track so it was pretty good,” he said. “When guys would make a mistake or slip up I would pass. I was moving up pretty good. There were times when you’d go around someone early it seemed like you’d get hung out and lose a spot or two. We kept gaining them back.”
Swindell advanced into the top 10 when he was caught up in a crash that forced him to restart at the back of the field. He then ended with an 18 th-place result.
The event wrapped up on Saturday with Swindell starting on the outside of the front row for a D Main. Although he knew he had a provisional to lock into the main event because he was the defending Race of Champions winner, Swindell elected to compete.
“We had a good car and led for a while, but we had a right rear tire going down,” he said. “We probably still would have been ok. I got caught on a restart and got slid. I went to the bottom and it was ok. I was just trying to ride it out. Unfortunately, on the last lap some guy wanted second more than to be third and I got spun around.”
Swindell was running second entering turn three on the final lap when the third-place driver ran into him, spinning him around. That eliminated a transfer position and forced Swindell to rely on the provisional to start 25th in the 55-lap feature.
“Last year we moved right up (from the back),” he said. “You have to be patient. This year the track took a little longer to widen out. It seemed like people were more aggressive. Every year it gets more aggressive with people. I was trying to get through without having any issues. I was doing ok.”
Swindell had advanced just outside the top 10 when he was involved in his first of multiple crashes. Swindell ended with an 18th-place result after having to restart at the back several times.
“It was just one of those years I guess,” he said. “I’ve had so many years there where it’s really clean. The last three years things have happened and it’s put us back. We never gave up on anything. We just tried to do the best we could.”
QUICK RESULTS –
Jan. 12 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – Race of Champions: 18 (18).
Jan. 13 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – Heat race: 6 (6); C Main: 2 (6); B Main: 3 (14); Feature: 18 (22).
Jan. 16 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – D Main: DNF (2); Feature: 18 (25).
SEASON STATS –
3 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 0 top 15s, 3 top 20s
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 has been huge,” Swindell said. “If it hadn’t been for him coming along we wouldn’t be able to do much of this at all. He’s been a great supporter for us and he’s been a great friend. It was nice of him to do all the things he’s done for us and continues to do for us.”
Swindell would also like to thank J. Davidson Scrap Metal Processors, Energy Release, FK Rod Ends, High Performance Lubricants, Sweet Manufacturing, Simpson Race Products, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, HRP Wings, Schoenfeld Headers, Kistler Racing Engines, Driver Websites and Inside Line Promotions for their continued support.