Travis Swaim has a habit of flying under the radar. Despite being the 2012 UARA STARS champion as well as a multi-time track champion at Caraway Speedway, the reserved driver is rarely mentioned among Late Model Stock’s best drivers despite having a résumé to prove he is.  That résumé was bolstered significantly Saturday night at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) as Swaim recorded his biggest career victory to date in the 22nd annual, $15,000 to win Myrtle Beach 400.

Swaim and crew celebrate in Victory Lane ( photo)

Swaim and crew celebrate in Victory Lane ( photo)

Swaim has been racing part-time this season, mostly at Caraway, and his biggest 2014 victory to date had been Caraway’s season-ending Mid-Atlantic Championship.  But Swaim ran a perfect race Saturday night, conserving his tires when he needed to by letting others lead but also wisely pushing his car hard enough to keep the traditional LMSC heavyweights in his rear-view mirror.  By the time the race wound down to its conclusion, Swaim had put enough cars between him and the favorites to hold everyone off for victory.

“This is simply awesome,” Swaim said after receiving a litany of hugs from his family and crew in victory lane.  “It was a really long day.  That first half of the race was really calm, so we knew we were in for it in the second half.  But we still managed to get it done.”

Swaim’s day got off to an auspicious start before qualifying.  NASCAR officials deemed his car’s right front spring to beyond the maximum measurement.  Swaim told 51 that he had the spring approved by officials before practice, but officials told him to replace the spring after he had lined up for qualifying because they had been tipped off by another competitor that the spring was illegal.  Swaim was told by officials that he had to have the spring replaced by the time he was scheduled to qualify or he would have to start at the rear of one of the heat races.


Greg Edwards claimed the pole and finished second in the 400 ( photo)

While Swaim’s team thrashed to make the spring change, Langley Speedway stalwart Greg Edwards pulled off his own surprise by claiming the pole for the Myrtle Beach 400.  Swaim would line up fifth for the 400 and he and Edwards would be the main protagonists in the feature, swapping the lead multiple times.

LMSC stars Lee Pulliam, Josh Berry and Tommy Lemons, Jr. all rode around the first hundred laps, which went caution-free before the halfway break.  At the break, former Myrtle Beach champion Justin Milliken was leading after a late charge on worn tires with Edwards and Swaim not far behind.  Milliken would be eliminated by a fiery crash around lap 150 and Pulliam, Berry and Lemons suddenly found themselves mired back in the rear of the top-10 when a series of cautions prevented them from gaining positions quickly as the laps clicked down.

Swaim took the lead for good on a lap 188 restart.  Greg Edwards spun his tires and Swaim took advantage, pulling in front of new second place man Josh Berry.  Berry spun his tires on the next and final restart and Swaim pulled off to a three-carlength victory on Edwards.  Pulliam made a furious charge to finish third over Lemons and Berry.

Lee Pulliam finished third at Myrtle Beach ( photo)

Lee Pulliam finished third at Myrtle Beach ( photo)

“I think I should go give the officials a hug too,” Swaim said looking back at his earlier controversy. “Making that spring change really helped us.  It made the car the best it has been since we got here, so I’m not going to complain about it anymore.”

Edwards was a bit disappointed to finish second, but was overall pleased with his weekend’s performance.

“I feel like we had a car that was just as good as the 21 [Swaim]. But on that last restart, I don’t know if I spun the tires or what happened, but the 88 [Berry] got into me and lifted up my back tires.  He didn’t let them back down until he wanted to.  The 21 (Swaim) wasn’t the best car.  We were.  We just had a bad restart.”

Pulliam, winner of Late Model Stock’s biggest race of the season at Martinsville in October, had to settle for third after winning the Myrtle Beach 400 last year.
“We thought we were really good,” Pulliam said. “The first half we bolted that set of tires on for the race, but it went to junk.  I guess we just got a bad set. We adjusted on the car and gave it all we had there at the end.  We came out with a third place.  I think we could’ve run with the 97 [Edwards] car at the end, but the 21 car was hooked up pretty good.”

“All in all we’ve been here two years. We’ve run four races and we’ve won three of them and finished third in the other one, so not too bad.”

Myrtle Beach Speedway officials moved all of the scheduled events for Sunday to Saturday because of a forecast of inclement weather Sunday. Track Promoter Bob Lutz opened the drivers meeting by announcing that next year’s 400 will be run on a Saturday with a Sunday rain date.  Thursday will be a practice day, Friday will be qualifying and feature action for Saturday. The exact race date will be announced soon.

2014 Myrtle Beach 400 Results

(powered by 51's Third Turn)
Fin # Driver
21STravis Swaim
97Greg Edwards
6Lee Pulliam
27Tommy Lemons, Jr.
88BJosh Berry
23Payton Ryan
1Brandon Setzer
41HBrayton Haws
44Justin Johnson
28HChris Hudspeth
20Sam Yarbrough
07Spencer Davis
32PRandy Porter
5ETyler English
98GTodd Gilliland
77YAlex Yontz
60R.A. Brown
34BMatt Bowling
31GKaz Grala
50CJamey Caudill
7Justin Crider
8PKyle Plott
2Myatt Snider
03Roddie Sterling
25Matt Piercy
18David Roberts
72Dennis Holdren
89Robert Tyler
4HDylan Hall
46Brandon Gdovic
71Blake Stallings
34WMatt Waltz
12Trey Gibson
10Nick Smith
08Deac McCaskill
81Dave Garbo, Jr.
02Justin Milliken
9William Byron
58Tyler Ankrum
51Matt Cox
00Shane Lee
75Brian Vause

— By Tim Quievryn // @thethirdturn // 51’s Third Turn Website Manager

Travis Swaim Sails To Myrtle Beach 400 Victory