Sammy Swindell dominated the opening round of the Monster MeltdownFriday night at Skagit Speedway to earn his third World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season and his first win at the Washington bullring since 1979.
Kerry Madsen was the runner-up for his third consecutive podium finish as Paul McMahan, Joey Saldana and World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship leader Daryn Pittman rounded out the top five with the series embarking on its west coast Gold Rush Tour of nine races in 10 nights.
Swindell, a three-time series champion, started the 25-lap A-main from the pole position and controlled it through three stoppages, two reds and a caution, by a using his track position on each restart to control the pace coming back to green.
“Well I know how to make them take off,” said Swindell, of Germantown, Tenn. “That was good to start up front, this Big Game Treestands Maxim was just rolling. We had a different Parker motor in there tonight that would just take off from a crawl. We finally hit it right, started in the right spot and had a good car to keep us up there.”
Madsen finished second in his Keneric Racing EarthEx KPC to complete a game of podium bingo after running first and third last weekend while the series was in Edmonton.
“I actually butchered the original start and lost some spots, but pushed really hard on the following restarts and had a good car there at the end,” said Madsen, of St. Marys, N.S.W., Australia. “The car was fantastic and we had a great run. The cushion was as heavy as I’ve ever seen it here and it took me half the race to figure out to keep the right rear off of it, and once I started cheating it I ran a lot faster and was running those guys down.”
McMahan drove his CJB Motorsports car to a third-place finish, the same spot he is running in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship.
“We were good on the bottom and that was going to be my only shot at them,” said McMahan, of Nashville, Tenn. “Every time we would get to lapped traffic a red would come out and it wouldn’t give us that shot. Double file restarts weren’t our friend tonight, Sammy’s motors take off really well and we have a stumble in ours. He can chug you down really slow and his motors take off and ours weren’t. I can tell you why Sammy starts off really slow, because everybody else’s doesn’t take off and his does.”
Up front Swindell was untouchable after starting from the pole. McMahan ran second much of the event with Madsen running in the top five most of the race. Kraig Kinser fell to the sixth spot after starting second in the feature event, one spot ahead of father, Steve, who started 15th in the field.
West coast native and fan favorite Tim Kaeding earned the heard Charger award with a 10th-place finish after starting 19th in the feature.
Five-time series champion, Donny Schatz struggled most of the night. After qualifying outside the inversion, he missed a transfer position to the feature in his heat race. Schatz started on the pole of the Last Chance Showdown and won the event. He struggled most of the feature falling back from the 16th starting position before a late-race charge earned him an 11th-place finish. It was the first time since July 12 - a span of 16 races – Schatz missed a podium finish, ending a remarkable stretch that saw Schatz close quickly on championship leader Pittman. The result helped Pittman expand his lead to 41 points in the championship battle.