The Goodyear Outlaw Thunder returned to Eldora last night for it’s final night. It’s final night would prove much calmer than it’s first. And would see Sammy Swindell take the checkered flag for the 4th time this season.
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.
Swindell and Schatz have exchanged the points lead 8 times in 15 events making it the most hotly contested championship battle in World of Outlaws History.