Swindell's day at Dover ends with wreck
Loren Ranier has scouted his share of drivers.
He begged his father, team owner Harry Ranier, to sign a youngster named Davey Allison in 1987. Then there was another up-and-comer from the Indy Racing League named Tony Stewart in 1996. When an American Speed Association racer named Jimmie Johnson was making his transition to the Busch (now Nationwide) Series with William Herzog in 2000, Ranier provided guidance as a spotter.
Ranier’s latest protégé Kevin Swindell got his big break this weekend in the Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway. Swindell, 22, drove the No. 16 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing as Trevor Bayne took another week to recuperate. It was the fourth NNS start for the 22-year-old Germantown, Tenn.-native, who ran three races for Baker Curb Racing last year.
“Dover is not the ideal place to start,” Ranier said. “But drivers have to take advantage of the opportunities that come up. We’ve cultivated Kevin for the last two years waiting for something like this to come along.
“He’s always been an unbelievable talent. He’s the first driver to win back-to-back Chili Bowls (National Midget races) and finished seventh in the K&N Pro Series East last year. I’ve really seen him mature over the last few years. The sky is the limit with his talent. How far he can go is totally up to him because the talent is there. He‘s a stone cold racer.”
Although Ranier still works as a spotter, Greg Biffle’s spotter Joel Edmonds guided Swindell in the Nationwide Race.
Since qualifying was rained out for the 5-Hour Energy 200, Swindell started fifth — where the rookie landed on the speed chart in practice. Swindell was running 18th when the demolished car of Alex Kennedy veered up the track and into the No. 16 Ford. He wound up finishing 31st.
“I guess whoever was wrecked thought they could drive back across and drove straight up the hill,” Swindell said. “I was coming and at least it was just me and he didn’t wipe out more of us, but it ruins a great opportunity for me. We had finally got our stuff going there and the track was coming back to us. We weren’t too good at the beginning with the green track but we were getting better and finally getting back and passing some cars.
“It is frustrating what happened. It tore up a great Roush Fenway Ford and this may have been my only opportunity and it gets ruined by somebody being an idiot.”
Chris Andrews, crew chief for the No. 16 Ford, said Swindell has “been very professional, easy to work with and a quick learner.”