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Motorsports Story of the Decade: Swindell Family Looses Chili Bowl!

HAMMOND, IN: One of the most amazing motorsports winning streaks in history came to an abrupt halt Saturday night as multiple USAC champion Bryan Clauson was able to hold back Kevin Swindell’s bid for a fifth straight Golden Driller Trophy at the 2014 Chili Bowl. Barely!

During the last four decades, the Swindell family has held an almost supernatural grip on the Golden Driller (no pun intended). World of Outlaw original Sammy Swindell began the family ownership of the Chili Bowl by winning the second-ever running in 1989, adding victories in 1992, 96, 98 and 2009. Son Kevin then took over victory lane in 2010 and refused to be beaten for the next four years!

With nearly 300 midgets entered annually at the Chili Bowl, the idea of someone…ANYONE…winning four in a row seems unrealistic, if not downright impossible. This year, Kevin Swindell made things a bit tough on himself in his bid for a fifth consecutive victory, having to win his “B” feature in order to qualify for the tail-end of the Main Event. Meanwhile, father Sammy had already locked himself into the Big Show, and the annual “Swindell Benefit Race” appeared to be on track for yet another success story.

However, someone forget to tell Bryan Clausen.

After winning his preliminary feature the night before, the Indy 500 veteran passed early leader Caleb Armstrong on the second lap and set sail. Meanwhile, Kevin Swindell was mounting his expected charge from the rear of the field, and father Sammy was locked in an intense battle with the great Kyle Larson which ended badly for both. Following contact, Sammy lost a lap to the leaders, and Larson eventually retired with engine trouble.

With Bryan Clausen holding an almost comfortable advantage, the focus shifted to the amazing charge of Kevin Swindell, as he zeroed in on the leaders. With only a handful of laps remaining, Kevin fought his way past battling teammates Chris Bell and Rico Abreu with only Bryan Clausen separating him from his fifth consecutive Golden Driller. Could “Little Swindell” do it again?

When Clausen won his preliminary feature the night before, his comment in Victory Lane should have been a warning to his Chili Bowl foes. “Wow. This thing has been really hooked-up since we got here. It would be a shame if we can’t put it in Victory Lane Saturday night!”

In the end, Bryan Clausen held off Kevin Swindell to cop his first Golden Driller trophy. Even so, Kevin’s record of four wins and a second in five years almost beyond comprehension. And who’s to say the streak won’t begin again in 2015?

“I’m just really relieved I didn’t throw it away because these guys are really good,” said Clauson.“I said it last night in the Press Conference that I felt like I had a car that could compete for the win tonight from the time we unloaded the car. It was really going to be a matter of not burying ourselves.”

Is this the beginning of the “Bryan Clausen Era” at the Chili Bowl?

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John Atlas is a native of Hammond, IN who has followed auto racing all his life. As a youngster, he has been attending the Indianapolis 500 since the mid-1950’s and still reveres the Speedway today. A fan of all types of motorsports, John has attended races from Watkins Glen (at the bog) to the old Ontario Motor Speedway, from Ascot to Pocono. He has a cat named Parnelli and loves the music of Frank Zappa, John gives us a unique view of racing.