America’s living and active racing legend of Sprint Car Racing Sammy Swindell triumphed at Eldora last weekend (14 July) over a stellar field in muggy conditions and was crowned the Kings Royal Champion for 2012.
It was a calculating drive on a challenging track. Swindell assumed the lead on lap 11 of the 40 lap extravaganza and apart from an ambitious 11th hour lunge from Australia’s Kerry Madsen, Swindell had total control of the blue ribbon event. In terms of the track there was not a lot there beyond the mid point of the race, particularly in Turns 1 & 2 – you simply couldn’t go high.
Swindell, a master in assessing tracks, was the quickest to work out where the grip was and he capitalised on that knowledge early in the race. Second across the line was Kerry Madsen and then Jac Haudenschild rounded out the final podium spot. Behind them were Justin Henderson, Kraig Kinser, Darryn Pitman, Joey Saldana, Donny Schatz, Greg Wilson and Steve Kinser completing the top ten.
Tim Kaeding after setting a solid 6th in Qualifying (13.533) and securing an impressive heat win was on pole with Paul McMahan beside him. The only thing separating them was McMahan’s slower (17th) time trial. Swindell was 3rd on the grid owing to his 22nd placed time trial in the field of 50 cars.
Darryn Pitman started the race in 4th position beside Swindell and quickly jumped to the lead. He battled it out with Paul McMahan for the first 10 laps, allowing Swindell to observe and determine the tracks sweet spots. With 11 down, Swindell made his move and pounced for the lead – a lead that he was never to relinquish. In winning the Kings Royal, Swindell picked up a cool $50K and banked his 20th Career win at Eldora, including this now his 3rd Kings Royal.
It was the 29th running of this prestigious event and sitting deep in Swindell’s mind was the heartbreak he endured in last season’s corresponding event where a blown tire on the last turn of the last lap cost him what looked like certain victory. In the 2011 race Tyler Walker was able to ultimately pounce and take the spoils. This season, Walker started in P17 and finished in P17 without any net forward movement in the field.
Heats were run over 8 laps and were won by Chad Kemenah, Justin Henderson, Darryn Pitman, Sammy Swindell, Paul McMahan, and Tim Kaeding. The top 3 finishers all transferred to the A-Main.
The 10 lap C-Main was won by Dallas Hewitt and the first 6 finishers transferred to the back of the B-Main. After Dallas Hewitt came Danny Smith, Adam Wilt, Ryan Meyers, Todd Kane and Chuck Waddell to complete the B Transfer List.
There were some big names coming out of the B-Main. Donny Schatz won the B, with Greg Wilson, Kraig Kinser and Steve Kinser filling the final two rows in the 24 car A-Main field (First 4 transferred).
Kraig Kinser was awarded KSE Hard Charger, moving forward from his P23 starting place to an eventual and stunning 5th. Seven times Kings Royal winner Steve Kinser came in 10th after starting the night stone motherless last in P24. Earlier in the night Craig Dollansky set Quick Time with a 13.338. He was to start P7 and eventually came home in 21st place after what can only be described as a horror run after such a great start.
Kerry Madsen was consistent all night and got focused and serious when it mattered most. He qualified in at 10th (13.633) and bagged a second to Sammy Swindell in his heat. This placed Madsen in P10 for the start of the A-Main. The Kenerick Racing Team has been exceptionally competitive in recent months and has managed to pick up some great victories and placings. Their performance at Eldora was something to be proud of.
In the feature Madsen ran solidly , stayed out of trouble and after moving up from that 10th starting position into 2nd, with only a handfull of laps to run, came on with an almighty late Turn 2 charge on Swindell. He drew up beside Swindell but washed off a bit of speed in the process and that was all Swindell needed to take the checker. It would have been a fairytale maneuver if Madsen had of been able to make it stick, but Swindell was up to the task and thoroughly deserved his crown.
And before we move onto some overview photos, the Preliminary Friday Night Feature was taken out by Joey Saldana who lead all 30 laps from start to finish.