Friday, August 6, 2010

Stewart and Swindell Steal The Show At Knoxville

A final lap pass for the win by a former event champion and a brilliant charge from the back to the front by a cagey veteran topped off a thrilling night number two of the 20th Annual Arnold Motor Supply Knoxville 360 Nationals Friday.

One of the headlining stories in the main event actually got its start on the third lap of heat race number two when Danny Wood put a slider on Sammy Swindell while racing for fifth in turn three. Swindell did not yield, drove up over the cushion, and then slowed, but never stopped to bring out the caution. Before the restart Swindell showed his displeasure with Wood by driving across his nose and he then moved to the back of the eleven car lineup for the restart. As the green waved Swindell’s car popped out of gear causing him to limp through turns three and four and the caution waved for him again. Despite the two cautions, Swindell stayed on the track and was able to move up four spots to finish seventh for a transfer into the B-Main. Wood moved up to third and went directly to the A.

Sammy ran away with the B-Main earning the 21st starting position for the twenty-lap main event with Bud Kaeding and Gregg Bakker occupying the front row. But it was the fourth-starting Johnny Herrera who shot to the lead down the back straightaway on lap number one. Randy Hannagan quickly moved to the second spot picking up the chase of Herrera while deep in the pack Swindell was working his way quickly toward the front. On lap eight the caution waved for Clint Garner who slowed on the backstretch while running in the fourth position. Swindell would restart in ninth and it was now a good bet that Sammy would be in the mix for the win with twelve laps remaining.
Sammy Swindell (1) races Brooke Tatnell (14) for fourth late in the feature event - Barry Johnson photo

As Swindell gained two more spots in two laps, Shane Stewart worked his way past Hannagan for second and now had his sights set on Herrera who was quickly closing on lapped traffic. Swindell put a slider on Brooke Tatnell for fourth with five laps remaining while a straightaway ahead Stewart was sizing up Herrera for one final challenge. Stewart tried the bottom groove of turns one and two with three laps remaining, but Herrera’s momentum off the cushion kept him out front. Coming off turn four to the white flag Stewart pulled to Herrera’s push bar and then dove low into turn one. As Stewart came up the track, Herrera bobbled for a split second on the cushion and that was all that Shane needed to put his Rockstar Energy Drink #57 into the lead and he held off one last look from Herrera in three and four to take the victory. Hannagan finished a few car-lengths ahead of Swindell who advanced seventeen spots to fourth while Tatnell came from fifteenth to fifth. Davey Heskin was shadowing Swindell on his run to the front as Heskin came from row ten to finish sixth, Kaeding held on for seventh while Danny Wood finished eighth. Cale Conley finished where he started in ninth while Darren Long rounded out the top ten.
Shane Stewart passed Johnny Herrera on the final lap to win Friday night's feature at the Knoxville 360 Nationals - Barry Johnson photo

360 Nats Friday Notes…..How different was the track tonight? Chad Meyer’s quick time of 16.681 would have ranked 42nd on Thursday night. Meyer’s night went downhill after his interview with Mike Roberts as he could not advance any positions in his heat and then he was unable to start the B-Main when motor problems brought him to the work area……Just like last night there was only one red flag on the evening and this one came on the first turn of the first heat. Brian Parker got into the guardrail and rolled a couple of times before climbing out under his own power…..Dennis Moore Jr. driving one of Doc Sloan’s cars and Darren Long were the two fastest qualifiers in the fourth heat and they made contact in turn one on the opening lap. Long recovered and was able to race his way up to third while Moore dropped back to seventh at the finish…..Don Young came up a position short of transferring to the A-Main when he could not chase down veteran Gary Wright over the final laps of the B…..Phil Hague (sp?) started the night out in fine fashion with a great rendition of the National Anthem on a harmonica. Hopefully he’ll be back to do it again next week…..Injured driver Wayne Johnson joined Bill Wright tonight for the live webcast on Hoseheads Radio.....Scott Traylor, Kirk Elliott and the Racinboys crew will also have live coverage of Saturday nights action as they do of all of the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour events.....Two drivers who run Knoxville’s 360 division on a weekly basis, Chad Humston and Dustin Selvage, will start from the front row in Saturday’s Championship event.

The Knoxville infield will be packed with Sprint Cars and the half-mile oval will be packed with action Saturday night as 100 cars are set to run the E, D, C, B and A-mains and expect a full field of forty or more 410’s in their final tune up for the 50th Annual Goodyear Knoxville Nationals.

I learned tonight that legendary announcer Jack Miller had passed away at the age of 74 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. As one of the track announcers at Knoxville back in 1998 I had the distinct honor of introducing Jack for his 25th and final call of the Knoxville Nationals Championship feature event. No matter how hard any of us try, we will never match the class, the knowledge and the enthusiasm that Jack Miller brought to the microphone. And that I loved hearing that voice! Rest in peace Jack!

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