Looking Back: 2014 Season in Review

10 most popular stories of 2014 on TJSlideways.com

This list is based on what our readers click on in 2014.

  1. Sammy Swindell (Serena Dalhamer photo)
    Sammy Swindell’s retirement press release was our most read story of 2015.  (Serena Dalhamer photo)

    Sammy Swindell’s retirement: Even with Steve Kinser announcing his farewell tour to being a full time World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series competitor Sammy Swindell’s sudden retirement following the Knoxville Nationals was the most read story of 2014.   Due to the sudden nature of the announcement readers flocked to this story for more information.   If Sammy decides to race more often than the Chili Bowl will that story garner as much interest as his sudden retirement?

  2. Steve Kinser announces his Salute to the King Tour:  Rumored for some time, Steve Kinser’s farewell to full time life on the World of Outlaws tour was actually leaked by an Australian news story after months of planning around a formal announcement to be made by Tony Stewart Racing and World of Outlaws officials.  Once that story hit Australian airwaves neither side was overly happy with the news being leaked early overseas.   Presentations, gifts, keys to cities, and other honors greeted Kinser at virtually every stop on the 2014 World of Outlaws tour.   Kinser did start the year with a victory at Volusia Speedway Park, but was unable to win a second feature throughout 2014.
  3. Smoke rises in Michigan:  Tony Stewart’s return to sprint car racing ranked third on our top 10 most read stories of 2014.   The previous year the Tri-City Speedway event was one we covered, but chose not to this year due to some work permissions.  Soon we received tips from multiple sources the Tri-City race was going to be Stewart’s return while following up on a story about Randy Hannagan’s suspension.  Fans at Tri-City and Crystal Motor Speedway were treated by the impromptu visit by the Nextel Cup superstar and got to see his first victory since breaking his leg at Southern Iowa Speedway in 2013
  4. Randy Hannagan. - Bob Buffenbarger Photo
    #Hannagate was a surprise entry into the top 10. – Bob Buffenbarger Photo

    Kevin Ward, Jr. tragedy:  The lowest point of the 2014 season was the loss of Kevin Ward, Jr. in the tragic incident at Canandiagua Speedway Park.  The following weeks and months once again put an unwanted spotlight on the sport, the Ward family, and Tony Stewart.   Personally I am proud of how or organization handled this news story.  Rather than trying to capitalize on it with opinion pieces before facts were available we told the story as best we could being fair to everyone involved.

  5. Renegade Sprint Car Series / All Star Circuit of Champions:  This story is the gift that keeps on giving towards the end of 2014, whether we want it to or not.   Who knew that a rain delay at Wayne County Speedway during Ohio Sprint Speedweek would be the catalyst to sprint car civil war in the state of Ohio.   As the summer went on people took sides and through December continued to get uglier by the day.  With no end in sight for 2015 it appears this split will likely be one of the top stories of 2015 as well.
  6. #hannagate:  Not often does a new story give us a chance to create a hashtag on twitter, but that’s exactly what happened in July when Randy Hannagan got suspended by the National Racing Alliance after comments made in victory lane at the Kings Royal.  Hannagan promptly found a work around becoming a Sprints on Dirt member the following weekend and won the NRA/SOD co-sanctioned event at Crystal.  We broke in live to our Monday night show to announce the suspension and followed the story through in want was one of the more unusual and fascinating stories to cover in 2014.
  7. Schatz wins the Knoxville Nationals:   Donny Schatz winning the Knoxville Nationals was a huge topic in 2014.  Brian Brown gave Schatz a run towards the end, but ultimately Knoxville once again became “Schatzville” in 2014.
  8. Jack Hewitt. - Bill Miller Photo
    Jack Hewitt. – Bill Miller Photo

    Kerry Madsen wins the Kings Royal:  Kerry Madsen started racing in Ohio when he came to America.   Madsen’s racing journey to the States came full circle in July with an popular Kings Royal victory.   Madsen was overcome in victory lane and the press conference with the flood of emotions coming over him as he reflected on his career.   Madsen’s post race celebration and press conference ranks in the top five of favorite moments for a driver I’ve covered in 18 seasons.

  9. Jessica Zemken wins the Canadian Sprint Car Nationals:  Every year the Canadian Nationals ends up being the best on track racing product we see all season.  2014 was no exception with JZ coming out of mid-pack like a rocket and rode the bottom to victory at Ohsweken Speedway.
  10. Jack Hewitt returns to competition at the 4-Crown Nationals:  What started as a moment where most of the reaction was surprise ended up being one of the better stories of 2014.   From holding court before hot laps to a gaggle of media to Sunday’s feature event Hewit “did it” on more time in a Silver Crown car at Eldora Speedway.  It was not surprising to us that Eldora Speedway’s favorite son made our top 10 most read stories of 2014.