From David Sink
PINELLAS PARK, FL (February 20, 2020) – Kody Swanson captured Thursday nights inaugural “Dave Steele World Non-Wing Sprint Car Championship 125” at Showtime Speedway and officially ended the sprint car portion of 2020 Florida Speedweeks. Swanson’s win came aboard the Doran Enterprises #77 V-6 powered entry.
Swanson set quick time earlier in the day with a lap of 13.410 seconds around the quarter-mile semi-banked speedway near St. Petersburg, Florida. The 125-lap feature was scheduled to start straight up but Swanson elected to start the race from the outside front row.
When the green flagged dropped Swanson took command of the event but surrendered the lead to Kyle O’Gara just prior to lap 10. O’Gara began to build a sizable lead over Swanson during the next 40 laps, despite apparent brake issues. The car appeared to be locking up the front brakes entering the corners.
Just after the 50-lap mark, Swanson began reeling in race leader O’Gara at a rapid pace. By lap 66 Swanson had taken the lead back and began to build a small cushion. Unfortunately for Swanson, a lap 84 red flag to clean up fluid on the track, would bunch the field up when the race resumed. Bobby Santos III had quietly worked himself into the runner up position after starting the race from inside the third row. It appeared as if a classic Swanson versus Santos III battle was brewing for the final 25 laps.
When the race resumed, Swanson wasted no time getting around lapped cars and kept Santos III at a comfortable distance the final 25 laps to capture the victory and a $5,000 payday.
Swanson beat Santos III across the line by 1.077 seconds followed by O’Gara, Joe Ligouri, and John Inman rounding out the top five.
In victory lane Swanson eluded to the fact he was patient at the start of the race and let O’Gara set the pace early on. “I kinda play these races by ear” explained Swanson. “The idea is to lead the whole thing from start to finish. But as good as he was early, I wasn’t good enough to do what he was doing early. I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again. I didn’t know if he’d fade and I’d have a chance. Luckily, the longer the race went it kinda played back to us. I tried not to lose sight of him but there was period there where I really couldn’t even see him”.
With 25 laps remaining, Swanson indicated he was concerned, with Santos III right behind him and $5,000 on the line. “I knew Bobby had come from fifth. Bobby is an incredible racer and does a great job saving his equipment. You know he’s gonna be there at the end and hes coming. I knew he would be very tough to hold off. At that point I felt fortunate to get a good start. There was no more saving after that. I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be, or as in control as I wanted to be. I kept moving around the racetrack to find a little bit of speed, wherever I could, just to stay in front of him”.
The race paid tribute to Dave Steele, who lost his life in an accident at a track in nearby Bradenton nearly three years ago. Swanson was quick to share what the victory meant to him personally. “It means a lot to win this race because Dave was a friend, teammate, and someone I had Thanksgiving dinner with during Turkey Night. He was someone who is truly missed and someone I think of often. The chance to win one in his memory is really special” concluded Swanson.
Dave Steele Non-Wing World Finals – 125 Laps
Pinellas Park, FL
Thursday February 20, 2020
Non-Wing 410 Sprint Cars
1. 77 – Kody Swanson
2. 22a – Bobby Santos III
3. 67 – Kyle O’Gara
4. 13 – Joe Ligouri
5. 59x – John Inman
6. 52 – Cody Karl
7. 68 – Tommy Nichols
8. 32 – Ronnie Roberts II
9. 22 – Brandon Blended
10. 4 – Travis Bliemeister
11. 18 – Shane Butler
12. 26 – Aaron Pierce
13. 42 – Phil Haddad