[media-credit name=”Eldora Speedway” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]The overcast skies over Rossberg Ohio had a foreboding quality to them. The humidity was high and you could almost smell the rain. Track workers would stop for a moment and look up at the skies and then hurry on their way. Tonight was no ordinary night at the grand lady of dirt, Eldora Speedway, tonight was something special and rain simply wasn’t in the plans. Tonight the grand lady would pay homage to dirt racing’s 29th king, and who it would be only she knew.
As the time approached the car count rose to an impressive 50 winged sprint cars. Names that struck awe into even casual fans were in attendance. Names from the past, the present and the future were all there. Legends and Kings and princes that would be Kings if only Eldora would smile on them just once. Names from the past like Wolfgang, Doty, and Baltes. Names from today like Kinser, Swindell, Haudenschild and Lasoski. Names that would be the future like Darrah, Wolfe, Kaeding and Henderson. All were gathered at the court of the grandest lady of dirt to greet her loyals and share a moment with her fans. As the time approached even the most seasoned of the drivers began to feel the anticipation. The night had arrived the new King would be crowned. Would it be a seasoned and wily veteran or would it be an new young and daring prince? Who would win Eldora’s King’s Royal?
The qualifying for the event went just like any other World of Outlaws show. Each car taking 2 laps and the fastest time would determine where they would line up for the heat races. Quick time on the night was set by the track record holder Craig Dollansky. Dollansky turned a lap of 13.338 seconds around the half mile track. Not quite his record time which was 12.707 seconds but still the quickest of the 50 cars in the field for the night. The second fastest qualifier was a returning King who had been absent from the circuit for last couple of months in Jac Haudenschild. Haudenschild who went in the middle of the order turned a lap of 13.414 and served notice he was there to win.
Qualifying was the end of the familiar format for the evening. There would be 6 heat races and only the top 3 would transfer to the A Main. 4 thru 6 would be relegated to the B Main and 7 thru 9 would go to the C Main. The line up would be an interesting arrangement with the all the winners lining up 1 – 6 and all the second place finishers 7 – 12 and the third place finishers 13 – 18 and then the 2 fastest qualifiers that didn’t transfer would make up 19 and 20. The final 4 spots would transfer from the B Main. The C Main would transfer 6 to the B to complete that 24 car field. There are no provisionals in the Kings Royal. You either race your way in or you go home. This race is all about the best of the best, and that was exactly what the sell out crowd saw, the best of the best.
The first heat race would be a hotly contested 8 laps that would see the Eldora’s spring time winner take the checkers. Chad Kemenah won over Craig Dollansky and Tim Shaffer to claim his spot in the top 6 for the A. Finishing 4th was the series hottest young driver Kraig Kinser who along with last nights fast qualifier David Gravel and Paul May would be starting in the B Main. The first of the C Main starters were Ryan Myers, Chuck Waddell and Randy Hannagan who again had engine troubles and would scratch for the night.
The second heat was taken by Justin Henderson who held off a hard charging Jac Haudenschild and Dale Blaney for one of the 6 top spots. The B Main contenders would be 4 time champion Donny Schatz, Jason Sides, and Brian Paulus. The C Main claimed Dallas Hewitt, Adam Wilt and Rick Fraley.
The third heat would be a hard fought battle that would be won by Daryn Pittman who held off Danny Lasoski and Brad Sweet. Going to the B Main was 20 time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser who had qualified for all 28 previous King’s Royals. Joining him would be Stevie Smith and Bill Rose. Going to the C Dean Jacobs and Kory Krabtree.
The fourth heat would be an action packed hotly contested joust between two rivals. The experience of Sammy Swindell would win the battle over Kerry Madsen and Brian Brown. Going to the B would last years World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year Cody Darrah, Greg Wilson and Brian Sebbetto. The C would take Craig Mintz and Joey McGaruh.
Heat 5 would test the metal of last nights winner Joey Saldana. A single slip of the tire handed the race to Paul McMahan and brought Saldana home in second. Third would go to last years king Tyler Walker. The B Main would get Logan Schuchart, Chad Blonde, and Wes McGlumphy. While the C Main would get Sheldon Haudenschild who took a wild ride flipping several times and landing on his wheels during the heat and Todd Kane. Sheldon would scratch for the evening with too much damage to repair at the track.
The final heat would determine the pole sitter for the King’s Royal. Tim Kaeding would win with a commanding 5.4 second lead over Ed Lynch Jr and Lucas Wolfe. The B Main contestants would be Trey Starks and Shane Stewart and Dustin Daggett. Stewart would experience engine trouble and scratch for the evening. The C Main claimed Danny Smith and Scott Hull.
The C Main was scheduled to start 12 cars but with the cars of Randy Hannagan and Sheldon Haudenschild scratching the race would go off with just 10. Dallas Hewitt would lead every lap to claim the C with Danny Smith, Adam Wilt, Ryan Meyers, and Chuck Waddell also transfering to the B Main.
The B Main was packed from front to back and on any ordinary night would have been considered a strong A Main. But this was not an ordinary night and these drivers would be fighting for their chance to challenge for the crown. The race was a fast pace slide filled exciting chess match that showed every single driver in the field to be a brillantly talented and promising driver. But only 4 could move on. Only the 4 best of these 23 elite drivers would earn the chance to challenge for the title. Two past kings and 2 crown princes would make the move. With Donny Schatz leading the way Greg Wilson, Kraig Kinser and Steve Kinser would tighten their belts and prepare to do battle in the A Main. The Royal had never been won by a driver coming out of the B Main but all 4 of these men were confident that they could be the first. After all two of them, Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz were past Kings already. Greg Wilson was a documented hard charger with a great deal of surgical finesse in a race car and Kraig Kinser not only had the advantage of being Steve’s son he was also the hottest driver on the circuit. With their confidence in place the four advanced to do battle in the A Main. And what a battle it was.
The A Main was the feature race of feature races. The 40 laps around Eldora’s storied high banks was a tough race with three and sometimes four abreast racing throughout the pack. But the steel horses proved not as reliable as their strong willed drivers and 6 of the 24 would retire with engine issues. By the half way point the wily veteran Sammy Swindell, had taken the lead. But his rival Kerry Madsen was hot on his tail followed very closely by Jac Haudenschild. At one point Sammy lead by a nose and Madsen went high and Haudenschild went low with Swindell in the middle. The cars were just inches a part as they headed into the first turn. All three would come out the other side with Swindell holding on to the lead by a nose. Through out the pack the rooster tails and slide jobs for position were fierce. It was about more than money. It was about pride and these were proud and brave men. When the dust finally cleared and the checkered flag flew it was Sammy Swindell that Doug Wolfgang would crown as King. King Sammy the XXIX as he will be known from this day forward. It was the third time in his long career that Sammy has been the King but it undoubtedly will not be the last. Coming home second would be Kerry Madsen and in third Jac Haudenschild. Our B Main Knights all finished in the top 10. But the legend of no winner ever coming from the B still stands. But there is always next year.
Tonight was a test of stamina and wills. It was about finding the courage to look your short comings in the eyes and over coming them. It was about digging down to where you live to where your drive to race and win comes from and pushing on when your neck and your shoulders hurt and breathing was becoming hard from the dust. It was about being the best and believing you were the best without doubts. No one at Eldora tonight illustrated that attitude any better than Sammy Swindell. Swindell’s quiet demeanor is often misunderstood and taken for stand offish. His dry humor often taken as a sharp tongue that lacks compassion. His passion for winning and precision taken as conceit and arrogance. In reality nothing could be further from the truth. Sammy Swindell is an innovator and a consumate champion. He is a Master at his craft. He races in the purest of old school form, he offers no quarter and he takes none. If you have the skills and you have the will he will test your metal and if you can win he will shake your hand but never think that means you have beaten him because you have only won a single battle. That said….Long Live The King!!!!!!!!!!!
1) Craig Dollansky 2) Jac Haudenschild 3) Stevie Smith 4) Cody Darrah 5) Joey Saldana 6) Tim Kaeding 7) Tim Shaffer 8) Dale Blaney 9) Brad Sweet 10) Kerry Madsen 11) Tyler Walker 12) Trey Starks 13) Chad Kemenah 14) Justin Henderson 15) Da…nny Lasoski 16) Brian Brown 17) Paul McMahan 18) Lucas Wolfe 19) Kraig Kinser 20) Donny Schatz 21) Daryn Pittman 22) Sammy Swindell 23) Todd Kane 24) Ed Lynch Jr 25) David Gravel 26) Jason Sides 27) Steve Kinser 28) Greg Wilson 29) Sheldon Haudenschild 30) Dustin Daggett 31) Paul May 32) Adam Wilt 33) Bill Rose 34) Bryan Sebbetto 35) Logan Schuchart 36) Shane Stewart 37) Randy Hannagan 38) Dallas Hewitt 39) Dean Jacobs 40) Craig Mintz 41) Chad Blonde 42) Danny Smith 43) Ryan Myers 44) Brian Paulus 45) Kory Crabtree 46) Joey Magaruh 47) Wes McGlumphy 48) Scott Hull 49) Chuck Waddell 50) Rick Fraley
Heat One Results: 1) Chad Kemenah 2) Craig Dollansky 3) Tim Shaffer 4) Kraig Kinser 5) David Gravel 6) Paul May 7) Ryan Myers 8) Chuck Waddell 9) Randy Hannagan.
Heat 2 Results: 1) Justin Henderson 2) Jac Haudenschild 3) Dale Blaney 4) Donny Schatz 5) Jason Sides 6) Brian Paulus 7) Dallas Hewitt 8) Adam Wilt 9) Rick Fraley.
Heat 3 Results: 1) Daryn Pittman 2) Danny Lasoski 3) Brad Sweet 4) Steve Kinser 5) Stevie Smith 6) Bill Rose 7) Dean Jacobs 8) Kory Crabtree.
Heat 4 Results: 1) Sammy Swindell 2) Kerry Madsen 3) Brian Brown 4) Cody Darrah 5) Greg Wilson 6) Bryan Sebbetto 7) Craig Mintz 8) Joey McGaruh.
Heat 5 Results: 1) Paul McMahan 2) Joey Saldana 3) Tyler Walker 4) Logan Schuchart 5) Chad Blonde 6) Wes McGlumphy 7) Sheldon Haudenschild 8) Todd Kane.
Heat 6 Results: 1) Tim Kaeding 2) Ed Lynch Jr 3) Lucas Wolfe 4) Trey Starks 5) Shane Stewart 6) Dustin Daggett 7) Danny Smith 8) Scott Hull.
C Main Results: 1) Dallas Hewitt 2) Danny Smith 3) Adam Wilt 4) Ryan Myers 5) Todd Kane 6) Chuck Waddell 7) Rick Fraley 8) JOey Magurah 9) Kory Crabtree 10) Scott Hull 11) Randy Hannagan (DNS) 12) Sheldon Haudenschild (DNS)
B main Results: 1) Donny Schatz 2) Greg Wilson 3) Kraig Kinser 4) Steve Kinser 5) Logan Schuchart 6) David Gravel 7) Trey Starks 8) Bryan Sebbetto 9) Craig Mintz 10) Bill Rose 11) Jason Sides 12) Adam Wilt 13) Stevie Smith 14) Paul May 15) Chad Blonde 16) Wes McGlumphy 17) Dustin Daggett 18) Brian Paulus 19) Todd Kane 20) Ryan Myers 21) Chuck Waddell 22) Dallas Hewitt 23) Dean Jacobs 24) Shane Stewart (DNS)
A Main Results: 1) Sammy Swindell 2) Kerry Madsen 3) Jac Haudenschild 4) Justin Henderson 5) Kraig Kinser 6) Daryn Pittman 7) Joey Saldana 8) Donny Schatz 9) Greg Wilson 10) Steve Kinser 11) Tim Shaffer 12) Cody Darrah 13) Dale Blaney 14) Paul McMahan 15) Brad Sweet 16) Ed Lynch Jr 17) Tyler Walker 18) Lucas Wolfe 19) Danny Lasoski 20) Brian Brown 21) Craig Dollansky 22) Chad Kemenah 23) Tim Kaeding 24) Stevie Smith.