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1979: Shuman Wins, Swindell Stars

Editor’s Note: National Speed Sport News is going back in time and revisiting some of the past Knoxville Nationals races ahead of the 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals. This is the sixth installment in the seven day series.

Sammy Swindell may not have won the Knoxville Nationals in 1979, but he did turn himself into a star that year at Knoxville. (Dave Hill Photo)

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Ron Shuman, was flying in high gear and claimed the $5,000 first prize at the 19th annual Knoxville Nationals.

Shuman, in the Auto Shack 75, started in the third row of the 30-lap event. In the early laps, he trailed polesitter Tim Green and Shane Carson. After passing

Carson for second, he drew behind Green when the yellow flag came out on the ninth lap for Danny Smith.

Shuman dove under Green on the restart, but Green remained in the lead when the cars came out of the curve into the back straightaway. Shuman then trailed Green until the 14th lap when Green’s engine began to sour. One lap later, Shuman took the lead and Green headed for the pits with a broken rocker-arm stud. Shuman sailed home to the victory surviving a caution flag on the 24th lap for Doug Wolfgang.

Knoxville point-leader Randy Smith brought home second place and Shuman credited Smith with helping him to the victory. Randy had tried the low groove attempting to pass Shuman when he was running second in the early going. After seeing Smith’s challenge, Shuman moved down to the low groove and found it was the quicker way around the race track.

Sammy Swindell turned in the outstanding passing performance to finish third. Swindell started on the tail of the field after winning the B, and he used both the high and low groove to wind his way through the field of cars. John Stevenson was fourth and Shane Carson fifth.

In addition to the $5,000 first place prize, Shuman picked up $800 in lap money and an estimated $1,250 in contingency money.

Mike Pinckney was the winner in the 16-lap C main.

The five-lap dash events got things underway with Pinckney taking the C dash, Billy Robison the B dash and Shane Carson the A. Robison’s win was one of the most exciting races of the night as Robison made a last lap pass on Lee Osborne to get the win.

A crowd estimated at 15,000 including Iowa Governor Robert Ray watched the final night of racing.

The finish:

Ron Shuman, Randy Smith, Sammy Swindell, John Stevenson, Shane Carson, Danny Smith, Garry Rush, Ralph Blackett, Lee James, Larry Clark, Buster Venard, Paul Pitzer, Jerry Potter, Bill Mellenberndt, Al Hagar, Lee Osbourne, Doug Wolfgan, Tim Green, Steve Kinser, Eddie Leavitt, Rick Ferkel, Jerry Stone.

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