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Swindell Relies on Patience, Good Luck Charm for First Win

He retakes the World of Outlaws points lead as the top five are separated by only 14 points

MERCED, Calif. – March 30, 2012 – There was a special person on the mind of Sammy Swindell as he climbed down from his wing dance on Friday.

Swindell’s granddaughter, Zoe, delivered a special message before the veteran picked up his first World of Outlaws feature victory of the season in front of a rowdy crowd at Merced Speedway.

“She called me, wished me good luck and hoped I won, so I might have to make sure she makes more of those calls,” Swindell said with a grin.

It was Swindell’s 277th career World of Outlaws feature win and one when he used every bit of his experience. A year after winning the first-ever World of Outlaws race at Merced Speedway, the track was different – reconfigured from a quarter-mile bullring to a one-third miler with wider turns and it was a lot more slick than last year’s heavy track.

“It was definitely a tough race track,” he said. “You had to be real patient and stay on line. I was watching some of the guys when we got to traffic and it still looked like the bottom was probably a little bit better lane. So it was just making sure I didn’t miss my marks and I just tried to stay down there.

“I was going to make them try to take it from me. I just didn’t want to give it up and slip off the bottom.”

Swindell, who started on the pole of the 40-lap feature after winning the dash from the pole, was challenged the entire race by Cody Darrah. He stayed within striking distance and even pulled within a car length on several occasions, but Darrah was unable to make a move for the lead.

“On my restarts I could never gain anything,” he said. “I’d always lose a little bit. We had a pretty good car. I’d get up to his left rear (tire) and never really be able to capitalize. I was just kind of waiting on him to make a mistake.

“When we got into traffic I thought something would happen.”

After four timely cautions within the first 16 laps of the race reset the field just as Swindell was entering lapped traffic each time, the final 35 laps were caution free. Swindell reached lapped traffic for the initial time just past the midpoint of the feature and Darrah gave chase the entire time.

On a couple of occasions, Darrah pulled to the bumper of Swindell, including on the second-to-last lap. However, Swindell was smooth and Darrah finished a couple of car lengths behind the veteran as Jason Sides tried to make it a three-way battle just as the checkered flag was waved.

“We were kinda catching those guys toward the end, but just ran out of laps,” Sides said. “(Swindell is) really good in traffic. On a small track like this, that’s what a lot of the key things are. I saw Cody right there with him and he was following his every move. It was going to be hard to get by them unless we had something happen, some kind of spin or something.”

Kraig Kinser, who posted the fastest lap in qualifying at 10.878 seconds, finished fourth and Jason Meyers rounded out the top five in the final race of his Allstar Appreciation Tour.

After flipping on the final lap of his heat race, Craig Dollansky claimed the Last Chance Showdown and earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after driving from 14th to sixth. Steve Kinser was seventh, Joey Saldana eighth, Chad Kemenah ninth and Terry McCarl placed 10th.

Steve Kinser, Saldana and Kemenah each won heat races.

Swindell’s win also put him back atop the World of Outlaws points standings. He has a six-point lead over Donny Schatz with Sides in third – eight points back. Saldana is fourth and trails by 12 markers with Kraig Kinser climbing to fifth – 14 points behind Swindell.

Merced Speedway Notebook

NOTES – This race capped the Allstar Appreciation Tour for two-time defending World of Outlaws champion Jason Meyers, who likely won’t race with the Outlaws until the Knoxville Nationals in August. … Kraig Kinser has a streak of six consecutive races of qualifying in the top five, including two straight fast-time awards. … The World of Outlaws was able to complete five of the eight scheduled events during this spring swing through Nevada and California. Three races were rained out.

WINNERS – Donny Schatz – 2 (Silver Dollar Speedway on March 23 and Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 19); Tim Kaeding – 2 (Thunderbowl Raceway on March 16 and The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8); Sammy Swindell – 1 (Merced Speedway on March 30);Joey Saldana -1 (Perris Auto Speedway on March 10); Craig Dollansky – 1 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 19); Danny Lasoski – 1 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 18).

TIME TRIALS – Kraig Kinser was the fastest qualifier around the one-third mile oval with a time of 10.878 seconds to earn five championship points. Also earning points were Terry McCarl (4 points), Cody Darrah (3), Sammy Swindell (2) and Cody Lamar (1).

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NEXT UP – The World of Outlaws will take next weekend off before returning on April 13 at Paducah International Raceway in Paducah, Ky., and April 14 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.

Merced Speedway Statistical Report; Merced, Calif.; March 30, 2012

A Main – (40 Laps) – 1-Sammy Swindell [1] [$10,000]; 2. 4-Cody Darrah [2] [$5,500]; 3. 7S-Jason Sides [6] [$3,200]; 4. 11K-Kraig Kinser [3] [$2,800]; 5. 14-Jason Meyers [4] [$2,500]; 6. 7-Craig Dollansky [14] [$2,300]; 7. 11-Steve Kinser [7] [$2,200]; 8. 9-Joey Saldana [5] [$2,100]; 9. 63-Chad Kemenah [8] [$2,050]; 10. 24-Terry McCarl [9] [$2,000]; 11. 83-Tim Kaeding [15] [$1,500]; 12. 29-Kerry Madsen [13] [$1,200]; 13. 5W-Lucas Wolfe [10] [$1,100]; 14. 3C-Cody Lamar [11] [$1,050]; 15. 15-Donny Schatz [18] [$1,000]; 16. 25-Bobby McMahan [12] [$900]; 17. 6-Bill Rose [19] [$800]; 18. OO-Jason Statler [16] [$800]; 19. 83SR-Jac Haudenschild [22] [$800]; 20. 44W-Austen Wheatley [23] [$800]; 21. 55-Trey Starks [24] [$800]; 22. O-Jonathan Allard [20] [$800]; 23. 21-Tommy Tarlton [21] [$800]; 24. 17-Justin Sanders [17] [$800]. Lap Leaders: Sammy Swindell 1-40. KSE Hard Charger Award: 7-Craig Dollansky [+8].