BILLINGS, Mont. — official release — ASCS photo — An engine change put Jeff Swindell starting 15th on Friday night after drawing second in the feature, but luck was on the side of the Tennessee veteran, drawing the pole at the Billings Motorsports Park to lead start to finish for his second Protect the Harvest A-Feature victory of the year.
Masterful in slower traffic, Swindell didn’t back off going three and at times four wide with the back markers to keep Jason Johnson at bay.
“It’s about time isn’t it?” Swindell said.
Asked about having to make some hair-raising moves through traffic, Swindell replied, “It just got to where some of those guys were running side by side and were all running about the same speed and had the bottom blocked, they had the top blocked, then one would slip out and another would get under him so all I could do is drive through the middle there that one shot and it really surprised me; the car stuck pretty nice.”
Able to open his advantage considerably at times, Swindell commented on being able to run in clean air.
“When you’re running a cushion like that, being out in the open air really makes a world of difference,” he said. “The cushion’s really hard to see when you get behind somebody because there’s just blowing up so much dust off the tires, so you have to just feel your way to the cushion by the car in front of you so it makes it really good to be sitting out front.”
Assisted by cautions to keep the Heartland Catfish No. 94 out of heavy slower traffic in the early goings, the mid-point on was not the case, which allowed Jason Johnson to close the gap on Swindell, but never enough to challenge for the lead.
“I really needed lapped traffic because in clean air, he definitely was just as fast as us, a little bit faster to be quite honest so our only chance was to get him in lapped traffic and a couple times it got pretty hairy there and was definitely a challenge,” said Johnson.
A nearly constant battle for third took place between Aaron Reutzel and Seth Bergman. Swapping the show position over and over during the night’s 30 laps run, Reutzel was able to fend off the Washington shoe for the podium step.
Bergman crossed fourth with Brad Loyet coming from ninth to complete the top five.