Short-Track Top Five: Kevin Swindell
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Short-Track Top Five. Every week NSSN will talk to a different short-track driver and get his or her thoughts and opinions on a series of five questions.
This week National Speed Sport News talks to 21-year-old Kevin Swindell, the two-time and defending Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals champion and son of National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Sammy Swindell.
After staring his career in the karting world Swindell moved on to sprint cars and midgets, winning events in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series and USAC Mopar National Midget Series. Last year he ran the full NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule, finishing seventh in the standings.
Swindell will be racing this Saturday in the ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona Int’l Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., for Eddie Sharp Racing.
NSSN: What influenced you to become a race car driver?
SWINDELL: Obviously you know my dad [Sammy Swindell] did what he did. It was an easy path that was already laid out. It was something that I wanted to do and nobody made me do or told me I had to do. If I wanted to play baseball or play basketball I could. I can remember the first could of years I was racing and couldn’t wait to get to that next Saturday just so I could race again. At that point I knew. I started throwing all the basketball trophies away and leaving the racing ones there. I was pretty much latched on.
NSSN: If you had the chance to race in the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500, which would it be and why?
SWINDELL: Indy 500. Really in my opinion I look at the Indy 500 as being more prestigious really. It has really been there longer. It is something that everybody wants. It has been a who’s who of anything. In my mind that is the bigger deal.
NSSN: How healthy is short-track racing in the United States?
SWINDELL: It’s hard to tell. There is stuff that builds and grows every day and then you go buy somewhere and there is a for sale sign. It is just kind of particular to where you’re at. Obviously Pennsylvania seems like it is never going to change. You know, sprint cars and what it’s doing. Pavement late models and some of that stuff down here in North Carolina, that seems pretty healthy. I don’t think it’ll ever die. It’s going to be a matter of what people can afford and if it is close to where that group of people is. You look at ASCS right now, it seems like that is what people are able to afford. They are getting 70 cars a race.
NSSN: What is the wildest race you’ve ever been a part of?
SWINDELL: I think it was two years ago or so we ran a race in Australia at Parramatta for Steven Graham that I’ve run a few races for here and there. Basically what they do is before you get there everyone is seeded. I was the highest seed going in. You just basically have to make the race. Once you make the race the highest seed starts 18th. It is 50 laps and $100 a lap to lead. It kind of puts you in an interesting box where you’re trying to get there [to the front]. It rained all day and whatever they did with the race track they managed to get it really slick.
Me and [Michael] Pickens were pretty much the only two who would run above the cushion. Me and him went on a 40-lap tear, trying to kill each other and bouncing through the holes. It was pretty interesting. I was leading and two lapped cars wrecked and took me with them. I went to the back and got back to second and then had a flat. That was probably the most exciting thing I’ve been a part of.
NSSN: At the end of your career, what do you hope people will remember about you?
SWINDELL: I’d like to be considered the guy that could do anything really. Regardless of what I’ve won or accomplished, at least at the end of the day be that guy that, wow, the talent was there. Almost like a Kyle Busch, who hasn’t been able to win a Cup championship, but everybody looks at him like he’s the best natural speed there. Being that guy that is almost feared.