Tulsa, OK (Jan. 15, 2011) - It took 25 years for a back-to-back winto happen at the Chili Bowl Nationals, and it was only fitting that it was a Swindell to do it on the event's Silver Anniversary. Kevin Swindell added a Silver Driller to his trophy case that will likely sit beside the Golden Driller he won in 2010, as he held off a late charge from his father and five-time Chili Bowl champ, Sammy, on the final lap to take the victory in the 50-lap main event.
Sammy Swindell notched his third straight podium finish at Tulsa Expo Raceway, while hard-charging New Zealander Michael Pickens overcame an early incident to charge his way back into the third spot. Native Oklahoman Jonathan Beason finished fourth after starting Saturday night in the B Main, and Bryan Clauson, who led the race’s first 12 laps, finished fifth.
Saturday's victory marked the seventh time in 25 Chili Bowls that a Swindell has stood in victory lane but it was the first time in the history of the historic event that a winner had won in consecutive years. As one of Red Line's longest standing relationships, Swindell Motorsports runs our 30wt Race Oil, Heavy Shockproof gear oil, WaterWetter, and Alcohol Fuel Lube in both cars and has turned to Red Line for both product sponsorship and technical help for years.
This historic victory didn't come easy to the younger Swindell, as he not only had to hold off a late charge from his father but he was helped by a total of six caution flags in the race's final 15 laps. Those 15 laps produced some exciting racing as Kevin, driving the No. 39 Swindell Motorsports Spike Esslinger, moved into second on Lap 34 as he passed Clauson, who had been battling with Sammy through much of the first half of the race.
Then on a Lap 40 restart, Kevin found the opening he needed on a restart and passed Sammy for the lead with an inside move in Turn 1 for the lead. But two more cautions awaited on Lap 44 when Brad Loyet stopped and Loyet Motorsports teammate Damion Gardner stopped on the inside of Turn 2 on Lap 49
Kevin got a good jump on the the Lap 44 restart as Sammy stayed in second with both Pickens and Beason trying to work their way around the five-time Chili Bowl champ. The two Swindells stayed in first and second over the next few laps as Pickens kept working to make a pass on Sammy Swindell but could never figure out a way to complete it. After the caution for Gardner on Lap 49, the stage was set for a two-lap showdown involving the two Swindells, Pickens, Beason and Clauson.
Kevin was able to get a good jump on the start but as the checkered flag was waving, he jumped the cushion in Turn 4 and that opened the door for Sammy to try for the win but Kevin gathered his mount and won by fractions of a second. Pickens was forced to stop when Shane Cottle slowed at the top of Turn 4 at the halfway point in the 50-lap race, but was able to restart.
Clauson, meanwhile, was able to keep going after he looked like his night might be done on two separate occasions in the final half of the race. Clauson broke loose on Lap 36 trying to make a pass and looked to have spun but he gathered the car up. Then on Lap 41, Clauson and Sammy Swindell make contact, which collects Nick Knepper and Cory Kruseman but Clauson again is able to continue. Brad Kuhn finished sixth, with Bobby East seventh, Cole Whitt eighth, Jon Stanbrough ninth and Daryn Pittman rounding out the top 10.
The entire Red Line team is thrilled with the double podium finish and historic back-to-back win for Swindell Motorsports, and look forward to a fantastic rest of the season.
An excellent race recap and final lap video is available at SpeedTV.com
Photos courtesy of STLRacing.com