For the fourth year in a row Kevin Swindell has won the most prestigious midget race of the season. On Saturday night in the Tulsa Expo Center at Tulsa Expo Raceway, Swindell conquered the 27th Annual Lucas Oil / General Tire Chili Bowl Nationals Championship, again. To do it he had to battle early with Kyle Larson and then he had to hold off his legendary father.
The 22-year old Kevin Swindell started on the front row with pole sitter and 57-year old father Sammy Swindell. The elder Swindell, who is the all-time leader with five Chili Bowl titles, jumped out and led the first 12 laps much to the displeasure of the sold out crowd of 12,000 fans who see Sammy as a villain and are not too found of Kevin either. That is what happens when the two have now won nine of the 27 Chili Bowl events and the past five in a row.
Kyle Larson, who at 20-years old is a developmental driver for Ganassi Racing and on his way to what looks like stardom in the NASCAR ranks, was able to take the lead on lap 13 to a heroes welcome from the fans.
That is when the younger Swindell set his assault on the the track and the competition. In his No. 39 midget, Kevin Swindell took to the low side to battle with Larson. The two would swap the lead over the next five laps until Larson made a mistake and spun on lap 19 ending his night with a DNF.
“I gave Kevin a slide job but over-rotated and it just got away from me,” explained Larson. “It’s too bad because it was fun racing with both of those guys and I think I made a few new fans tonight so we’ll come back next year and see if we can beat them.”
Once Larson was out of the picture the battle was between the two Swindell's for the win. On lap 26 Sammy was closing on Kevin but the three-time defending winner changed his line and began to pull away. Kevin would then survive four more restarts after cautions and win by about 10-car lengths over his father. He exited the car to a mixture of cheers and boos reminiscent of a Jeff Gordon or Kyle Busch.
“The kid is tough," Sammy Swindell, who won a series-high 13 World of Outlaws races in 2012, said. "He’s not only fast, he’s real smooth and that’s what it takes at this place. I had a couple chances but he was too tough tonight.”
Kevin's dominance started in 2010 and has now translated all the way through 2013. Each year the boos grow.
“I don’t think it’s too bad being a villain it’s better than not getting any reaction, at least the fans know you’re there,” said Kevin Swindell. "Maybe I’ll catch dad in wins and boos next year.”