ELMA — It was “Back To The Future” night at Grays Harbor Speedway, even though the World of Outlaws didn’t know it until they hit the track.
Sammy Swindell, running a full-time schedule for the first time in years, jumped 15 years with 30 dominant laps to win the main event on Wednesday night.
Swindell first won at Elma in 1997, the second year the series started coming to the raceway when the track was 3/10ths of a mile. Now at three-eighths of a mile, the 56-year-old from Germantown, Tenn., dominated the field like he did the first time he won.
“It is nice to be back here and it has always been a nice place to visit,” said Swindell, who won his 11th Outlaws main event of the season. “I had a car that was fast on the restarts and not as quick as I’d like it to be in traffic. We were able to hold on. I didn’t see or feel anyone close all night. The car has been really good in qualifying and in open track all season.”
Kyle Miller, of Eugene, Ore., needed to survive a few restarts to go wire-to-wire and claim the 25-lap main event race for the Northwest Wingless Sprint Tour on Wednesday.
Swindell started the event by giving the well-attended weeknight crowd a little bit of a history lesson. With two laps around the track, Swindell tied the track’s speed record for 410 sprint cars with a 11.915-second lap to take top qualifier honors.
The original record-holder is Craig Dollansky, who set the mark in 2006 and was the third fastest qualifier on Wednesday. This would turn into the duel of the night.
Dollansky, by virtue of his trophy dash win, took the pole position in the 21-car main event, with Swindell behind him in third position. On the start, Swindell made a move inside while Dollansky and front-row partner Cody Darrah, the 2011 Outlaws Rookie of the Year, weaved to take the lead.
“It was good to get into lapped traffic at the end there; I just wish we could have gotten into that earlier in the race,” Dollansky said. “I think he had a good car for the start of the race, but we were right there on him at the end there to make him think a little. It was a good race. I would have liked to have been one place higher, but it was a very good race and we were right there at the end.”
With clear track in front of him, Swindell powered out to a one-turn lead over Dollansky and Joey Saldana for the first six laps. A yellow caution flag bunched up the field and, with Swindell allowed to dictate the restart, the field watched the veteran pull away again.
On lap 9, the first and only red flag of the race was brought out when Tim Kaeding tried to get past Saldana in turns three and four and ran out of room. Kaeding, based in San Jose, Calif., went wide in turn 4, hit the wall and flipped over. Everett’s Jayme Barnes couldn’t get out of Kaeding’s way when the car came to a stop in the front straightaway and clipped the flipped car. Both drivers were out of the race.
Back-to-back yellow caution flags on lap 11 kept the field together, but Swindell got an advantage with a single-file restart after the second yellow flag. With just 15 cars on the track, Swindell had plenty of room to navigate.
On the restart, Swindell took off and Dollansky chased. The rest of the field would not be a factor for the remainder of the race.
On lap 20, Swindell began to have trouble with lapped traffic and Dollansky caught him with six laps remaining. Unfortunately for the Outlaws season points leader, he only got one chance to get past Swindell and it came on lap 27.
With both cars holding a mid-track line, Dollansky went up higher to try and slingshot past Swindell in turns three and four, but didn’t have enough momentum to make the move stick. Swindell powered through the turns and kept the lead en route to a wire-to-wire victory.
Dollansky took second to extend his season points lead, while Saldana claimed third.
“This was a great track and it was great to be here,” Saldana noted. “I really missed this track being on the schedule and we got good weather for a change.”
Wednesday night’s event was the first successful Outlaws program since 2008. Rain wiped out the 2009-10 stops during Labor Day weekend and the track was skipped in 2011.
Miller, a former Northwest Wingless Sprint Tour champion, had been picking and choosing his races in 2012 and he picked the right time to get his second win of the season.
Starting from the pole position in a 19-car main event field, Miller went wire-to-wire, but had a few obstacles to get around.
Two caution flags — one yellow and one red — bunched up and slowed the race. However, Miller was not threatened until the last few laps by Snohomish teenager Reece Goetz before taking the checkered flag.
The first caution came in lap 13 when three cars were collected in turn four to bring Miller back from a very large lead on the field. The red flag flew on lap 17 when Jesse Thistle flipped in turn four to stop the race.
On the restart, Miller had Goetz right behind him, but not for long. It took lapped traffic to slow Miller enough to allow Goetz to reel him in. However, Goetz never got a chance to make a move for the lead.
Racing continues at Grays Harbor Raceway on Saturday when the Rolling Thunder Big Rigs will take over the track. Racing starts at 6:30 p.m.
World of Outlaws
A-Main - (30 Laps) - 1. 1-Sammy Swindell; 2. 7-Craig Dollansky; 3. 9-Joey Saldana; 4. 15-Donny Schatz; 5. 11-Steve Kinser; 6. 29-Kerry Madsen; 7. 57-Shane Stewart; 8. 4-Cody Darrah; 9. 18J-Jac Haudenschild; 10. 63-Chad Kemenah; 11. 11K-Kraig Kinser; 12. 55-Trey Starks; 13. 33V-Henry Van Dam; 14. 98M-Mitch Olson; 15. 6-Bill Rose; 16. 26-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 17. 5W-Lucas Wolfe; 18. 18-Travis Jacobson; 19. 83-Tim Kaeding; 20. 17J-Jayme Barnes; 21. 22-Mike Romig. Lap Leaders: Sammy Swindell 1-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 18J-Jac Haudenschild [+9].
Qualifying - 1. 1-Sammy Swindell, 11.915 (tied track record held by Craig Dollansky in 2006); 2. 9-Joey Saldana, 11.932; 3. 7-Craig Dollansky, 11.958; 4. 4-Cody Darrah, 12.001; 5. 83-Tim Kaeding, 12.026; 6. 11-Steve Kinser, 12.033; 7. 29-Kerry Madsen, 12.082; 8. 57-Shane Stewart, 12.140; 9. 18-Travis Jacobson, 12.156; 10. 26-Sam Hafertepe Jr, 12.187; 11. 15-Donny Schatz, 12.197; 12. 17J-Jayme Barnes, 12.234; 13. 6-Bill Rose, 12.314; 14. 55-Trey Starks, 12.338; 15. 5W-Lucas Wolfe, 12.389; 16. 63-Chad Kemenah, 12.393; 17. 33V-Henry VanDam, 12.413; 18. 18J-Jac Haudenschild, 12.457; 19. 98M-Mitch Olson, 12.476; 20. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 12.632; 21. 22-Mike Romig, No Time.
Heat 1 - (8 Laps) - 1. 26-Sam Hafertepe Jr ; 2. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 3. 29-Kerry Madsen ; 4. 4-Cody Darrah ; 5. 98M-Mitch Olson ; 6. 6-Bill Rose ; 7. 63-Chad Kemenah .
Heat 2 - (8 Laps) - 1. 9-Joey Saldana ; 2. 15-Donny Schatz ; 3. 57-Shane Stewart ; 4. 83-Tim Kaeding ; 5. 33V-Henry Van Dam ; 6. 55-Trey Starks ; 7. 11K-Kraig Kinser .
Heat 3 - (8 Laps) - 1. 17J-Jayme Barnes ; 2. 18-Travis Jacobson ; 3. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 4. 18J-Jac Haudenschild ; 5. 11-Steve Kinser ; 6. 5W-Lucas Wolfe ; 7. 22-Mike Romig .
Dash - (6 Laps) - 1. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 2. 4-Cody Darrah ; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 4. 9-Joey Saldana ; 5. 15-Donny Schatz ; 6. 11-Steve Kinser ; 7. 83-Tim Kaeding ; 8. 26-Sam Hafertepe Jr ; 9. 18-Travis Jacobson ; 10. 17J-Jayme Barnes .
Northwest Wingless Sprint Tour
A-main (25 laps) - 1. Kyle Miller; 2. Reece Goetz; 3. Evan Margenson; 4. Robby Vaugh; 5. John Tharp; 6. Cam Smith; 7. Dan Dunlap; 8. Kyle Mayner; 9. Pat Canfield; 10. Bill Windsley; 11. Jeff Bell; 12. Sterling Kane; 13. Jeff Westergard; 14. Guy Weedman; 15. Rob Lindsey; 16. Jesse Thistle; 17. Brad Rhodes; 18. Doug Peter; 19. Cody Ridge.