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Sammy Swindell Scores Thursday Prelim Win at Chili Bowl


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Sammy Swindell Scores Thursday Prelim Win at Chili Bowl


by Lonnie Wheatley


Tulsa, Oklahoma (January 13, 2011) – Sammy Swindell served up a good reminder of exactly why he ranks as the only five-time winner in Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals history by mastering Thursday night’s Suburban Chevrolet Qualifying field at the QuikTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway.




Sammy Swindell is joined on the podium by runner-up Jerry Coons, Jr. (right) and Steve Knepper. (Tim Aylwin photo)


The star Sprint Car shoe from Germantown, TN, raced into the lead from the pole position at the outset and led all 25 circuits on the third of four qualifying nights at the 25th Anniversary Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.


“I was actually just kind of cruising along there, trying to make decent laps and not make any mistakes,” Swindell explained of the victory drive. “I definitely wasn’t hustling it, but the penalty is a little bigger if you do make a mistake being cautious. It worked out, I played it right and got the win.”


It marked Swindell’s second score of the week aboard the Esslinger-powered John Christner Trucking/Soapsports.com No. 1 Spike after topping Tuesday night’s Third Annual Vacuworx International Race of Champions, duplicating the path that he took to an unprecedented fifth Golden Driller trophy in 2009.


While Swindell locked into a record 18th Chili Bowl championship finale with the triumph, Arizona native Jerry Coons, Jr., and Illinois’ Nick Knepper secured Saturday feature starting bids as well with second and third place finishes, respectively.


Coons, who challenged Swindell a time or two along the way, makes his 12th championship feature start on Saturday and eighth in a row while Knepper broke into the finale for the first time in six Chili Bowl tries.


Fast throughout the night, Knepper earned the front row outside starting position alongside Swindell. Swindell shot into the lead at the drop of the green flag, with third-starting Coons taking second from Knepper upon completion of the opening round.


With Coons, Knepper and Steve Buckwalter in tow, Swindell reached traffic by the eleventh round. After getting held up briefly, which allowed a Coons challenge for the point, he actually increased his lead over the ensuing laps while picking off backmarkers one-by-one until the race’s first caution flew after 18 laps for a Casey Riggs spin in turn four.


After top-ten contender Wayne Johnson was squeezed into the backstretch wall and forced pitside on the restart, another pair of cautions interrupted the final circuits. Swindell was unphased, cruising the top side of the track masterfully to secure yet another win with Coons taking runner-up honors in the 2B Racing/Glenn Styres Fontana-powered Ohsweken Speedway/Rochester Americans No.0 Beast.


After exchanging a couple of sliders with Buckwalter in the first half of the race, Knepper’s best Chili Bowl effort to date culminated with a third-place run aboard the Esslinger-powered T.B.C./Illinois Refinishing No. 55k Spike.


“I’m still fairly new to this lapped traffic game, you get behind Sammy Swindell and Jerry Coons, Jr., and just watch the art happen,” Knepper commented. “You just kind of try to pick a line where they just picked and try to duplicate it.”


Buckwalter missed a lock-in by one position by taking the checkered flag fourth in Ott Chevy-powered Elite Chassis/Buckwalter Roofing No. 25, with Shane Golobic surviving a last-corner slide for life from Jason Leffler to round out the top five in Douglas Bock’s Esslinger-powered Bicycle Inc. of Fort Worth No. 26 Spike.


Leffler settled for sixth, with Levi Jones, 17th-starter Tracy Hines, Andrew Deal and 21st-starter Tim McCreadie completing the top ten.


After Corey Tucker Racing rep Levi Roberts was the only Chili Bowl rookie contender to make an “A” Main starting grid over the first two nights (14th on Wednesday), CTR stable mate Tyler Courtney was one of three rookies among Thursday night’s feature grid along with Dalten Gabbard and Seth Motsinger. Courtney fared the best by matching Roberts’ 14th place finish, with Gabbard in 20th and Motsinger in 24th.


Coons, Riggs, Deal, Blake Hahn, Garrett Hansen, Leffler, Buckwalter and Wayne Johnson topped heat race action for Thursday night’s 62-car field, with Johnson, Swindell, Courtney and Shane Cockrum winning the qualifying races. The heat race win for Hahn, 16-year-old grandson of Chili Bowl co-promoter Emmett Hahn, came in his first competitive laps aboard an open Midget after claiming two Golden Drillers in Micro Sprint Car action at the Tulsa Shootout two weeks ago.


Brian Carter won the first “C” Main, while Casey Shuman rebounded from heat race chaos to rally from the tail of the field to victory in the second “C” Main.


Shuman heroics continued in the second “B” Main with a run up to the fourth and final transfer. It was a spot he only held after locking wheels with Mike English exiting the final corner and crashing into the wall and over the finish line, marking the second time in as many nights a Loyet Motorsports No. 05 entry crossed the finish line in unconventional fashion after Damion Gardner flipped across for second in the Wednesday main event.


Shuman and company thrashed to make the call for the feature, with the Rattlesnake Bend native picking off another 13 cars with a badly-bent chassis to finish eleventh in the “A” main, running his total for the night to 30 positions gained in feature action.


Hines bounced back from a qualifying race incident to win the first “B” main before racing to eighth, with rookie shoe Motsinger holding on to win the second “B” Main.


Thursday Night’s Suburban Chevrolet Qualifier Results from the 25th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals:


Heat Races (8 Laps – Top 40 in passing points to A Qualifiers; Balance to twin C Mains)


Heat 1: 1. #0 Jerry Coons Jr., Tucson, AZ; 2. #86 Shane Hollingsworth, Lafayette, IN; 3. #26 Shane Golobic, Fremont, CA; 4. #2A Travis Berryhill, American Canyon, CA; 5. #85 Jonathan Hendrick, Fortville, IN; 6. #33 Scott Fennell, Littleton, CO; 7. #11XS Donovan Peterson, Brookings, SD; 8. #97X Chris Ennis, San Diego, CA

Heat 2: 1. #67W Casey Riggs, Shelbyville, IN; 2. #39T Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN; 3. #1 Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN; 4. #75X Mike English, Norwalk, CA; 5. #71D Brian Hosford, Gilbert, AZ; 6. #17K Michael Koontz, Bloomington, IN; 7. #83 Kurt Blackaby, Bentonville, AR; 8. #4C Joey Price, Great Falls, MT

Heat 3: 1. #15D Andrew Deal, Dewey, OK; 2. #14C Shane Cockrum, Benton, IL; 3. #28 Greg Bragg, Visalia, CA; 4. #75J Levi Jones, Olney, IL; 5. #7D Michelle Decker, Guthrie, OK; 6. #51P Dalten Gabbard, Peoria, AZ; 7. #6X Chris Morgan, Topeka, KS; 8. #12J Jay Mounce, Downs, IL

Heat 4: 1. #4B Blake Hahn, Sapulpa, OK; 2. #12S Danny Sheridan, Santa Maria, CA; 3. #71K Alex Bowman, Oro Valley, AZ; 4. #57S Steven Schaberg, Glenwood, AR; 5. #5A Peter Palazzolo, Pacific, MO; 6. #6M Justin Mallo, Cheyenne, WY; 7. #73A Alex Sewell, Broken Arrow, OK; 8. #2C Bud Carroll, Streetman, TX

Heat 5: 1. #47X Garrett Hansen, Manhattan Beach, CA; 2. #24 Tracy Hines, Wilkinson, IN; 3. #2X Jimmy Light, Erie, PA; 4. #7B Austin Brown, Millstadt, IL; 5. #6C Brian Carter, Concord, NC; 6. #49JR Bobby Michnowicz, Torrance, CA; 7. #25P Dylan Peterson, Sioux Falls, SD; 8. #10M B.J. Martin, Orland, CA

Heat 6: 1. #91X Jason Leffler, Long Beach, CA; 2. #41W Brandon Waelti, Sun Prairie, WI; 3. #37X Seth Motsinger, Salem, IN; 4. #3AJ A.J. Fike, Galesburg, IL; 5. #9S Justin Sanders, Prunedale, CA; 6. #84 Joey Fabozzi, Norco, CA; 7. #3S Chris Springer, Omaha, NE; 8. #05S Casey Shuman, Tempe, AZ

Heat 7: 1. #25 Steve Buckwalter, Royersford, PA; 2. #39M Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY; 3. #8R Rico Abreu, Rutherford, CA; 4. #31 David Budres, Beloit, WI; 5. #11J Justin Melton, Flower Mound, TX; 6. #23F Matthew Fox, Hughesville, MO; DNS -- #8S Kyle Steffens, St. Charles, MO

Heat 8: 1. #2J Wayne Johnson, Oklahoma City, OK; 2. #55K Nick Knepper, Belleville, IL; 3. #15KO Kevin Olson, Machesney Park, IL: 4. #38N Kyle Neal, Ewing, IL; 5. #91 Jeff Stasa, Kingman, KS; 6. #15N Connor Kassik, Lake Havasu City, AZ; 7. #56 Jason Dull, Machesney Park, IL


C Mains (10 Laps – Top 4 in each transfer to back of corresponding B Main)


C Main 1: 1. #6C Brian Carter, Concord, NC; 2. #5A Peter Palazzolo, Pacific, MO; 3. #25P Dylan Peterson, Sioux Falls, SD; 4. #4C Joey Price, Great Falls, MT; 5. #3S Chris Springer, Omaha, NE; 6. #15N Connor Kassik, Lake Havasu City, AZ; 7. #84 Joey Fabozzi, Norco, CA; 8. #2C Bud Carroll, Streetman, TX; 9. #10M B.J. Martin, Orland, CA; 10. #6M Justin Mallo, Cheyenne, WY; 11. #11XS Donovan Peterson, Brookings, SD

C Main 2: 1. #05S Casey Shuman, Tempe, AZ; 2. #91 Jeff Stasa, Kingman, KS; 3. #23F Matthew Fox, Hughesville, MO; 4. #12J Jay Mounce, Downs, IL; 5. #73A Alex Sewell, Broken Arrow, OK; 6. #8S Kyle Steffens, St. Charles, MO; 7. #33 Scott Fennell, Littleton, CO; 8. #56 Jason Dull, Machesney Park, IL; 9. #6X Chris Morgan, Topeka, KS; 10. #83 Kurt Blackaby, Bentonville, AR; 11. #97X Chris Ennis, San Diego, CA


A Qualifiers (10 Laps – Top 16 in combined passing points to A Main; Balance to twin B Mains)


A Qualifier 1: 1. #2J Wayne Johnson, Oklahoma City, OK; 2. #55K Nick Knepper, Belleville, IL; 3. #71K Alex Bowman, Oro Valley, AZ; 4. #91X Jason Leffler, Long Beach, CA; 5. #51P Dalten Gabbard, Peoria, AZ; 6. #75X Mike English, Norwalk, CA; 7. #7D Michelle Decker, Guthrie, OK; 8. #47X Garrett Hansen, Manhattan Beach, CA; 9. #41W Brandon Waelti, Sun Prairie, WI; 10. #15KO Kevin Olson, Machesney Park, IL

A Qualifier 2: 1. #1 Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN; 2. #25 Steve Buckwalter, Royersford, PA; 3. #75J Levi Jones, Olney, IL; 4. #39M Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY; 5. #12S Danny Sheridan, Santa Maria, CA; 6. #7B Austin Brown, Millstadt, IL; 7. #2X Jimmy Light, Erie, PA; 8. #3AJ A.J. Fike, Galesburg, IL; 9. #9S Justin Sanders, Prunedale, CA; 10. #49JR Bobby Michnowicz, Torrance, CA

A Qualifier 3: 1. #39T Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN; 2. #0 Jerry Coons Jr., Tucson, AZ; 3. #86 Shane Hollingsworth, Lafayette, IN; 4. #67W Casey Riggs, Shelbyville, IN; 5. #8R Rico Abreu, Rutherford, CA; 6. #31 David Budres, Beloit, WI; 7. #24 Tracy Hines, Wilkinson, IN; 8. #85 Jonathan Hendrick, Fortville, IN; 9. #2A Travis Berryhill, American Canyon, CA; 10. #57S Steven Schaberg, Glenwood, AR

A Qualifier 4: 1. #14C Shane Cockrum, Benton, IL; 2. #15D Andrew Deal, Caney, KS; 3. #37X Seth Motsinger, Salem, IN; 4. #26 Shane Golobic, Fremont, CA; 5. #71D Brian Hosford, Gilbert, AZ; 6. #11J Justin Melton, Flower Mound, TX; 7. #38N Kyle Neal, Ewing, IL; 8. #28 Greg Bragg, Visalia, CA; 9. #17K Michael Koontz, Bloomington, IN; 10. #4B Blake Hahn, Sapulpa, OK


B Mains (15 Laps – Top 4 in each transfer to A Main)


B Main 1: 1. #24 Tracy Hines, Wilkinson, IN; 2. #11J Justin Melton, Flower Mound, TX; 3. #39M Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY; 4. #49JR Bobby Michnowicz, Torrance, CA; 5. #3AJ A.J. Fike, Galesburg, IL; 6. #2A Travis Berryhill, American Canyon, CA; 7. #8R Rico Abreu, Rutherford, CA; 8. #2X Jimmy Light, Erie, PA; 9. #38N Kyle Neal, Ewing, IL; 10. #25P Dylan Peterson, Sioux Falls, SD; 11. #5A Peter Palazzolo, Pacific, MO; 12. #6C Brian Carter, Concord, NC; 13. #4C Joey Price, Great Falls, MT; 14. #7B Austin Brown, Millstadt, IL; 15. #4B Blake Hahn, Sapulpa, OK; 16. #17K Michael Koontz, Bloomington, IN

B Main 2: 1. #37X Seth Motsinger, Salem, IN; 2. #15KO Kevin Olson, Machesney Park, IL; 3. #85 Jonathan Hendrick, Fortville, IN; 4. #05S Casey Shuman, Tempe, AZ; 5. #75X Mike English, Norwalk, CA; 6. #9S Justin Sanders, Prunedale, CA; 7. #71D Brian Hosford, Gilbert, AZ; 8. #91 Jeff Stasa, Kingman, KS; 9. #23F Matthew Fox, Hughesville, MO; 10. #57S Steve Schaberg, Glenwood, AR; 11. #41W Brandon Waelti, Sun Prairie, WI; 12. #47X Garrett Hansen, Manhattan Beach, CA; 13. #31 David Budres, Beloit, WI; 14. #28 Greg Bragg, Visalia, CA; 15. #12J Jay Mounce, Downs, IL DNS -- #7D Michelle Decker, Guthrie, OK


A Main (25 laps – Top 3 advance to Saturday Night's Main Event)


1. #1 Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN; 2. #0 Jerry Coons Jr., Tucson, AZ; 3. #55K Nick Knepper, Belleville, IL; 4. #25 Steve Buckwalter, Royersford, PA; 5. #26 Shane Golobic, Fremont, CA; 6. #91X Jason Leffler, Long Beach, CA; 7. #75J Levi Jones, Olney, IL; 8. #24 Tracy Hines, Wilkinson, IN; 9. #15D Andrew Deal, Dewey, OK; 10. #39M Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY; 11. #05S Casey Shuman, Tempe, AZ; 12. #14C Shane Cockrum, Benton, IL; 13. #15KO Kevin Olson, Machesney Park, IL; 14. #39T Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN; 15. #67W Casey Riggs, Shelbyville, IN; 16. #86 Shane Hollingsworth, Lafayette, IN; 17. #71K Alex Bowman, Oro Valley, AZ; 18. #49JR Bobby Michnowicz, Torrance, CA; 19. #11J Justin Melton, Flower Mound, TX; 20. #51P Dalten Gabbard, Peoria, AZ; 21. #85 Jonathan Hendrick, Fortville, IN; 22. #12S Danny Sheridan, Santa Maria, CA; 23. #37X Seth Motsinger, Salem, IN; 24. #2J Wayne Johnson, Oklahoma City, OK

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