Swiger Goes Wrong Way at Inaugural Shamrock Inn Small Car Nationals
9/22/2007 - Hagerstown - Finished 19th - Started 26th - 40 Cars
After a string of solid finishes, Don and I were excited to end the year on a spectacular finish in our "Superbowl" race- the inaugural Shamrock Inn Small Car Nationals. The trophies were tall and the purse was high- $1000 to win and we thought we would have a great run. 40 pure stocks were on hand at Hagerstown Speedway vying for 26 starting spots. This race featured NASCAR-like single lap qualifying to set the heat races and a 25 lap feature event based on the heats.
The previous week in the Hub City 150, the Thunderbird was strong all night. The chassis and motor were right on and we finished a strong 7th. Heading into the Shamrock race, Don and I did some extra work on the tires, washed her up and we were ready to go.
My first shot at single lap qualifying at Hagerstown was so-so. I actually thought I did worse than what I did. The track was already blackening up prior to qualifying and from our gear choice to chassis setup, I just put down too much power for the car to hold. I got real sideways and had no forward bite coming out of turn 2 and that killed the lap. Knowing the track was in rough shape, I played it safe in turns 3 and 4 and we qualified around 20th of the 40 car field.
With 4 heat races with 5 cars to qualify, we started in 4th. Bad luck hit us right away as we entered turned one and got dumped at the start. After being spun and through carnage in the heat, we ended up one or two spots out of transferring and that meant the consy.
Swiger's imitation of Ricky Bobby
The officials divided the 20 unqualified cars into two consies races with 3 to transfer to the 25 lap feature. We were starting 5th in our consy. So with the pedal down, we were able to pass a couple of cars and make the feature race- starting 26th (out of 26!). The car in the consy by this time was really starting to go away.
Don and I had nothing to lose starting dead last, so we made some drastic changes with weight. We threw weight where it has never been before- trying our best to get forward bite off the turns.
Unfortunately, even though we threw the kitchen sink at it, we were pretty much junk for the feature. Through attrition, we managed a 19th place finish- not the final 2007 showing we were hoping for. Even in this defeat, we learned stuff about the car which will lead to a big change for the 2008 season, so in the end, it wasn't a wasted night.
I just want to say a big thank you to the Shamrock Inn for putting on a great show for us lower class cars. We may not have the money the Super Late Model teams have, but the LLM, 4 -cylinders and Pure Stocks have just as much desire as those teams and I want to thank the Speedway and The Shamrock Inn for putting together a night for the lower classes and letting us shine.
Now that the final race is over for 2007, I would like to say a final thank you for the people and sponsors that allow us to race. Don Sharkey- #1 crew member of any team. The things he has to deal with racing with me from the challenges of the unique Thunderbird to a lack of racing budget, I wouldn't want anyone else working on my car other than Don. My girlfriend Alisha came on board this year and has been a huge help- in the garage and at the track. Then my sponsors- The Shamrock Inn, 1520 AM Vegas Radio, Walrus Signs and Embroidery, and Rick Lawracy for providing the financial backing needed to keep the car running each week, thanks so much. I also get a lot of advice from a lot of people including Steve Kent, BR Nalley, Paul Dornburg, Ed Barrett, and the HAL guys and I wanted to thank you folks also. Without you guys, my life long dream of being a racecar driver wouldn't be possible. I know I am so lucky to be able to do what I do- I never take it for granted and work my tail off each week to get our car the best finish possible. Some weeks we may fall short, but it is never due to a lack of effort or desire. We now have 2+ years under our belts and Don and I are finally ready to put it all together in 2008. We have high goals from winning races to a top 5 finish in the season point series and the work for next year has already got underway.
Finally, I want to thank the fans and those of you who visit the web site. The Small Fry night for the Kid's night was awesome. Everyone who stops by the 7 pit and talks a while, I just love that stuff. The comments on the incar camera keep it coming back each week. The camera guys at all the local tracks from Cliff to JW to Travis, thanks so much for taking pictures of our car. I just truly enjoy everyone at the track from other drivers to the officials and can't wait for Spring time next year!
See everyone in 2008!