Swindell Dominates, Schatz Charges at Eldora Speedway
The duo swap the World of Outlaws points lead for the fifth consecutive race
ROSSBURG, Ohio – May 5, 2012 – Sammy Swindell and Donny Schatz are putting together one of the most intense championship battles in World of Outlaws history.
There have been eight lead changes in the standings in 15 events this season. Saturday was no different as Swindell led all 30 laps to claim Night 2 of the Outlaw Thunder presented by Goodyear at Eldora Speedway, marking the fifth consecutive race that the championship standings have swapped between the duo.
“If you’re looking at the points, we could have a big lead if we just hadn’t gotten in a couple of those crashes,” said Swindell, who has crashed twice while running in the top five this season. “But it’s part of it and we keep coming back.”
Swindell has been victorious in four of the last eight events, including a dominant performance on Saturday as the veteran picked up his 19 th career World of Outlaws win at Eldora Speedway. It also pushed him back into the points lead by 11 over Schatz.
After qualifying seventh quickest, Swindell drove from third to second in both his heat race and the dash. He then rocketed to the lead at the start of the feature, which went caution free for 24 laps before Jason Sides’ flat left rear tire brought out a yellow flag.
“The way the car was rolling through there I knew that if somebody was faster, they’d have to be just really awesome because this thing was almost on rails,” Swindell said. “It was just stuck down so hard I could just drive around there like I’m driving down the freeway.”
The caution eliminated nearly a straightaway lead for Swindell, who took little time in reestablishing a sizeable advantage. However, Kraig Kinser sustained a flat left rear tire with two laps remaining to bring out the final caution of the race.
Joey Saldana, who ran second for most of the race, began to slow a couple of laps before the caution because of an engine issue. Swindell chose the outside lane on the double-file restart and Saldana’s car was slow to take off, bogging the inside lane on the start and dropping him to sixth by turn one.
Swindell sailed to the win as Dale Blaney used the late cautions to pick up a pair of positions.
“We were probably going to run fourth until those last couple of yellows,” he said after finishing second. “They kind of helped us out. Sometimes yellows can help or hurt, and tonight they helped a little bit.
“(Swindell) was awful good all night long. He drove away from us early. He was definitely a better car than us and it would have took a little bit of problem from him for us to get up to him. I just wasn’t good enough from the center off to get a run on guys to slide them.”
Craig Dollansky also capitalized on the two cautions to drive from sixth to third in the final five laps.
“My car got good as the race wore on,” he said. “Late in the race was when my car felt the best.
“Any time you can come out with a top three with this group of teams here, it’s a pretty good night.”
David Gravel, who set fast time for the second night in a row, finished fourth and Daryn Pittman drove from 11th to round out the top five.
Schatz overcame an early issue of his own and rebounded in the feature. After advancing from eighth to third in the Last Chance Showdown to earn a transfer, Schatz started the main event in 24th. He restarted 14th on the caution with six laps remaining and then restarted ninth on the green-white-checker.
Schatz finished sixth and he earned the KSE Hard Charger Award for a series-best third time this season.
Saldana placed seventh, Steve Kinser was eighth, Greg Wilson ended ninth and Friday night winner Chad Kemenah rallied from 22nd to conclude the top 10.
Paul McMahan won a heat race and the dash, and Trey Starks, Steve Kinser and Jac Haudenschild earned heat wins. Tony Stewart claimed the Last Chance Showdown.