At 35 years old, Travis Swaim may not be old in general terms, but in racing terms, his decade’s worth of experience at the North Carolina track came in handy in the Mid-Atlantic Championship 200 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car event. Swaim dialed in his No. 21 car masterfully, working his way past defending race winner, 19-year-old Myatt Snider, just past the halfway point. From there, Swaim was never pressured again, even on several restarts including one after a lap 150 competition caution for two new tires.
It was the four-time Caraway Speedway track champion’s second win there this season and 20th of his NWAAS Late Model Stock Car career at Caraway. This one earned a $5,000 payday.
“I’ll tell you what, that was fun,” said Swaim after the race. “Experience doesn’t hurt. The car does change every year, the track gets a little different every year and the young kids get better every year.
“We don’t get to run 200 laps very often, but that’s awesome.”
Swaim qualified second to Snider in time trials Saturday by just seven one-thousandths of a second. He then set fast time in Sunday’s race-day practice, but a pre-race redraw put him deep in the field to start the race. Rolling off from the sixth position, Swaim methodically worked his way forward to catch Snider and Mike Darne, who set the pace early on.
Swaim took second from Darne on lap 50 and went on to play a cat-and-mouse game with Snider. Snider would start to pull away, then Swaim would reel him back in and get to the leader’s bumper. That routine happened several times over the course of the next 50 laps. Just six laps after a lap 100 restart, Swaim worked his way to the inside of Snider’s No. 2 car and eventually drove past.
From there, the only thing standing in Swaim’s way was a lap 116 red flag for officials to sort out scoring system issues and a lap 150 competition caution for new tires. Swaim passed both of those tests without issue as he drove to a sizable victory over Snider.
“When that caution came out and red flagged it, I thought we were in trouble because we were struggling on tires,” said Swaim. “But when we went back green before the break, the car was as good as it had been all day. It didn’t change a bit even after we put on new tires.”
Snider finished second and was left a bit frustrated by what he felt was some rough racing for the lead.
“The car was really good,” said Snider. “It was probably the best car I’ve ever had at Caraway. Travis had a good car too. We raced pretty hard there. He roughed me up a couple times when he passed me for the lead, but I guess that’s racing.”
Darne rounded out the podium finishers.
“We worked hard, but missed it just a little bit,” said Darne. “My car didn’t really respond to the new right side tires the way we thought it would. We’ve had a couple heartbreakers the last couple weeks with Martinsville and this one, but we’ll get one.”
In other action Sunday at Caraway, Will Bristle dominated the 25-lap Legends Car feature, Buddy Allred took the win in the 50-lap Limited Late Model feature and Gene Kepley picked up the Late Model Truck victory.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield
– Photo credit: Speed51.com