NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Johnny Herrera watches the pit area prior to the start of Thursday’s races at Salina Speedway.
It had been some time since I had witnessed the thrill of watching a Lucas Oil ASCS 360 National Tour sprint car race.
But my hunger for the fire-breathing cars was satisfied following Thursday night's racing at Salina Speedway.
I was hoping more cars would be competing, but the high-caliber names made up for the lack of cars competing. And the action on the track once things got rolling definitely had the fans and myself watching with anticipation to see what would happen lap after lap.
The night featured some of the biggest names in sprint car racing in the 360 ranks, including "The Ragin' Cajun" Jason Johnson, Tony Bruce Jr., Wayne Johnson, Johnny Herrera, Gary Wright and Brady Bacon. Kevin Swindell, son of legendary World of Outlaws driver Sammy Swindell, also was present.
Don Droud Jr., piloting the No. 1x of Mike Ochs, had a stellar run as he battled with the veteran drivers.
But the show Swindell, Seth Bergman and Jason Johnson put on was fabulous. All three had a share of the lead at one time during the 30-lap feature. Some of the moves they made were remarkable.
Jason Johnson continually ran just inches -- perhaps centimeters -- from the front stretch wall as he blasted out of turn four right in front of me. Swindell moved all over the track trying to move his way up the field, and Bergman led the majority of the race until being passed by both drivers after making only a minor mistake in a corner.
"It's very competitive, and it's the best money we can get for 360 racing in the country," said Bergman, from Snohomish, Wash. "I enjoy the traveling. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I really enjoy it."
Swindell made one of the best moves I've seen in sprint car racing, splitting two drivers coming out of turn two to vault from fourth to second. Seeing him make a move like that in his car was something special, and when he shot down the backstretch after the move, it looked as though he was shot out of a cannon.
The cars were fast, and the track was smooth and provided a great surface to compete on.
It was an awesome sight to witness some of the fastest and best drivers in the 360 ranks competing, and it led to a great show at Salina Speedway.
Track officials and everyone involved should be commended for their tireless work before, during and after the event.
Hopefully the ASCS will return in the future.
* NICK SCHWIEN, HDN