A chorus of boos rained down on Sammy Swindell as he exited his car in victory lane after claiming his fourth Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions on Tuesday as the Chili Bowl week formally got underway at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Swindell name has won a total of nine Chili Bowls between Sammy (five) and Kevin (four in a row), as well as a bunch of VIROC races. Swindell had to hold off a hard-charging Bryan Clauson to score the win, much to the dismay of the crowd.
Clauson was working the outside line right next to the cushion and gaining ground on Swindell who had used the bottom lane all race long. Clauson, the defending Chili Bowl winner, came sweeping around the outside of turn four trying to make a last-lap move on Swindell, but he came up just short.
“I had to go where they weren’t,” said Clauson. “I don’t think the outside was the fastest way around. If you gave me the inside and put Sammy on the outside I’d have driven right by him. But it was a great run for us. I think we may have established ourselves as the ones to beat for the second year in a row.”
Ironically, Swindell said that he thought the outside was better, but he didn’t want to abandon the bottom where he’d been all race.
“I knew he was going to be on the top,” said Swindell, a five-time winner of the Chili Bowl. “It was probably better to be up there but I’d run the whole race on the bottom. I kept looking up at the monitor (in turn one) and I didn’t think he’d get the chance to pass me.”
Swindell said after the race that he still has some things to work on for the rest of the week but he was pretty excited to score the win Tuesday night. He’s one-for-one already this week even though he said he actually hasn’t been in a Midget car on dirt in close to five months.
“That’s not bad for a guy my age who hasn’t run these cars in a while to come out here and beat kids who run them every week,” said Swindell. “I guess they’re not as good as they need to be.”
VIROC VII Results:
VIROC VII (20 Laps): 1. 1-Sammy Swindell; 2. 63-Bryan Clauson; 3. 21K-Cory Kruseman; 4. 71-Christopher Bell; 5. 71K-Kyle Larson; 6. 39-Kevin Swindell; 7. 97-Rico Abreu; 8. 24-Tracy Hines; 9. 71L-Damion Gardner; 10. 5-Jerry Coons Jr; 11. 47X-Tim McCreadie; 12. (DNF) 6K-Ricky Stenhouse Jr; 13. (DNF) 05-Brad Loyet; 14. (DNF) 1ST-J.J. Yeley; 15. (DNF) 15X-Chad Boat; 16. (DNF) 22-John Heydenreich
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com