WHEATLAND, Missouri (September 22, 2017) – Sammy Swindell struck first as the three-night Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial got underway Thursday night at Lucas Oil Speedway.
The veteran open-wheel icon grabbed the lead midway through the feature and went on to capture the Lucas Oil ASCS Winged Sprint Series victory. Swindell earned $3,000 and some valuable points toward starting position in Saturday’s $10,000-to-win grand finale.
In the co-headliner, Logan Seavey captured the feature win for the POWRi Lucas Oil WAR Sprints on a night that 56 wingless sprints checked into the pits to go along with 55 winged sprints.
Swindell, a 61-year-old from Germantown, Tenn., drove away from Aaron Reutzel after making a pass for the lead completing lap 12. The three-time World of Outlaws Sprint Series champion dominated from there.
“As long as somebody didn’t take me out or something, I was gonna be OK,” Swindell said of his drive to the checkered flag.
Reutzel wound up second with Wayne Johnson, winner of last year’s final-night Hockett/McMillian feature by a narrow margin over Swindell, finishing third.
Reutzel, starting outside of the front row, led the first 11 laps and at one point had a three-second lead before a lap-nine caution wiped out that margin. Shortly after the restart, Swindell made the pass for the lead out of turn four.
Reutzel said he was committed to running the top of the track, but as grip there began to go away he momentarily tried the bottom groove. That cost him as Swindell drove past.
“I made a mistake and just got beat,” Reutzel said. “We have a fast hot rod right now, the driver just made a mistake.”
Swindell, driving a car owned by A.G. Rains, picked up his fourth feature win of 2017.
“We’ve struggled a little bit with getting bumped around and things getting messed up,” Swindell said. “We lost our good motor that we had last year and we’ve finally got this one to where it’s rolling pretty good the last few weeks.
“We have a good race car. We just have to get a chance to prove it here. We should have probably had 10 or 12 wins this years, but things have happened. We definitely have a faster car than most of these other guys, we just have to prove it. Like tonight.”
Series points leader Sam Hafertepe Jr. finished fourth with Jason Martin fifth.
Seavey takes Wingless win
: Logan Seavey of Sutter, Calif., held on to win the POWRi Lucas Oil WAR feature, in just his second time driving a car-owned by Zach Daum who is currently out of action with an injury.
“I can’t thank him enough for letting me run his race cars,” Seavey said of Daum.
Chris Phillips grabbed the lead from his outside front row starting position with Seavey and Clouser closing in before the race was red-flagged on lap eight when Wyatt Burks’ car erupted into flames and rolled to a stop in turn four. Burks escaped without injury.
Two laps after the restart, Seavey used a run in turns one and two to take the lead with Clouser following him into second place.
Another red flag brought the race to a halt on lap 15 when Michael Tyre and Landon Simon got together in turn four with Simon’s motor catching fire. He was not injured, but it bunched the field again just 10 laps from the finish.
Seavey continued to lead it and had opened up a sizeable lead with Clouser and Dustin Morgan dueling for second when Casey Wills flipped in turn four, bringing out a third red flag with five laps remaining. Wills emerged from the car under his own power.
Seavey hung on to win it, holding off a fast-closing Morgan with Clouser winding up third.
“I was getting nervous there,” Seavey said of the final laps. “I knew the top (of the track) was slowing down a lot and I ran the bottom the last few laps. It was getting a little scary, but we were able to hold on.”
Two contenders were eliminated early. Series points leader Korey Weyant made contact with another car, going down the backstretch on the opening lap, and had to call it a night with a rear-end issue. Clinton Boyles, also was an early retiree with a motor problem on lap five.
The Hockett/McMillin Memorial brings the elite to Lucas Oil Speedway for an event to honor the memory of open-wheel champion Jesse Hockett, who lost his life in a shop accident in 2010 and his cousin and crew chief, Daniel McMillin, who was killed in an auto accident in 2006.
Action continues Friday night with another full program before the Saturday-night conclusion which culminates with a $10,000-to-win feature for the ASCS.