Nine Racing Scores Top 10 Finish In Its Return To ORP's Night Before 500 Midget Race
Brownsburg, Indiana — The storied Nine Racing midget team scored a top 10 finish in its return to the USAC National Midget Series Saturday night, May 29, for the 65th running of the Night Before The 500 Midget Race. Nine Racing fielded a two-car effort for drivers Kevin Swindell and Billy Wease. Both drivers made a dramatic charge through the field, with Wease finishing in 6th place after starting in the 16th position. Swindell had a tire go down after he had gotten to 7th place from the 20th starting position, ending the race for him.
The team had tested a week before the race at ORP under the watchful eye of pavement specialist Dave Steele. After the test session, both drivers expressed optimism about the upcoming race and the team's potential for excellent results.
Nine Racing chief mechanic Glenn Martin along with Rusty Kunz had the cars well prepared and ready to do battle on the high speed, 5/8 mile ORP oval as the practice times for both drivers were competitive. Still, the qualifying effort was not what the team expected, as Kevin Swindell qualified 20th and Billy Wease timed in 16th. "We were having difficulty getting the stagger right and both cars were extremely tight during their qualifying laps," explained Glenn.
Both Kevin and Billy ended up in the fourth heat, and the cars were much better as Kevin won the heat and Billy finished fourth. So, both drivers were automatically seeded into the 50-lap feature.
When the green flag waved for the feature event, both Kevin and Billy started moving forward quickly. Kevin started moving to the front quickly, passing Billy in the process. On lap three, there was a red flag due to a flip on the back stretch entering turn three. The flipping car clipped both Billy and Kevin, and during the red flag, both drivers stated their cars were fine.
When the race went back to green Kevin continued his march to the front and was in 7th position when suddenly sparks flew from underneath the car as he entered turn one. Then, the car headed straight into the wall and that ended Kevin's run to the front. Apparently the left front tire lost pressure as a result of the encounter earlier with the flipping car.
In the meantime, Billy Wease continued his charge to the front and ended up 6th at the checkered flag.
"Our car was a rocket tonight! When I got into 7th place after starting 20th, I knew I had a chance to catch the leaders and have a strong finish. Then, 'bang' went the left front tire, and there I was in the wall. It was a real joy working with Dave Steele, Glenn and Rusty for this race," exclaimed Kevin.
Billy added, "I finally got a chance to run a Nine Racing midget, and I wanted to do my best. It sure was fun during the feature having a fast car! We passed a bunch of midgets all night long, and eventually got close to the front but ran out of time."
"It was fun to be back at ORP with our Nine Racing team where we have had so many great moments. Both Kevin and Billy did a great job in the feature and it was a good feeling seeing the white #9 cars back in action," stated Steve Lewis, owner.
Nine Racing, Inc. has been operating for 29 years, and has earned 133 National USAC feature wins and 10 USAC National Midget Series Championships. Now for the first time, Nine Racing is standing ready to offer a specialized Racing Services Program for young and talented drivers to further hone their skills and compete at the highest levels of midget racing. For more information, go to www.nineracing.com.
The Nine Cars return
The Nine Cars return to ORP and stand ready to do battle in the annual Night Before 500 Midget race. Kevin Swindell drove the #9 and Billy Wease drove the #19.
Pavement specialist Dave Steele is conferring with drivers Swindell and Wease before the first practice session.
Kevin and Billy getting ready to be pushed off for the 50 lap feature event. The grandstands are packed for this great race.