Outlaws: 3-time champ Sammy Swindell retires from full-time racing

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After four decades of racing, three-time World of Outlaws champion Sammy Swindell has announced that he is retiring from full-time racing, effective immediately.

In a statement, Swindell indicated that he would like to continue driving in the prestigious Chili Bowl Nationals but wanted more time to be with his son, Kevin, as he competes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

“Part of the reason for the timing now is I’ve spent the last two weekends with my son, Kevin, racing,” the elder Swindell said. “I haven’t had any time to spend with his racing the last four years. He will drive a Nationwide car for the rest of the year and I want to be there to support him.”

Sammy also said that he was planning on either retiring or running a limited 2015 schedule before he made his final decision.

He will finish his Outlaws career with 294 victories, which makes him No. 2 all-time on the series’ win list. Among Sammy’s wins are some of sprint car racing’s biggest events, including the Kings Royal, the Knoxville Nationals, and the aforementioned Chili Bowl, where he’s won five times – the most out of any driver.

He was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2006.

Sammy also had limited runs in NASCAR and IndyCar racing across the 1980s and 1990s. He ran two Sprint Cup events, one in 1985 and another in 1991. On the open-wheel side, he ran three CART races in 1985 and 1986 but failed to qualify for the 1987 Indianapolis 500.

As for Kevin Swindell, he too has done well for himself in sprint car racing as the youngest driver ever to win an Outlaws main event and the only driver to win the Chili Bowl four consecutive times.

He has competed in three Nationwide Series races so far this year for JGL Racing alongside NASCAR veteran J.J. Yeley. The team is one of several in the series that run Dodge Challengers without factory support.

Schmidt Peterson confirms all-Canadian lineup of Hinchcliffe, Wickens

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The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team is going for a diet of denim, maple syrup, pace and politeness in its 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series lineup, with an all-Canadian pairing of James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens confirmed for next season.

Hinchcliffe was known to want a driver of Wickens’ caliber alongside him in the second seat after three less-than-fruitful seasons with James Jakes (2015), Mikhail Aleshin (2016) and a combination of drivers (Aleshin, Sebastian Saavedra, Jack Harvey) rotated through the second car the last three years.

Recent changes have brought them to this point and now leads them to becoming full-time teammates for the first time in a decade, since the defunct country-focused A1 Grand Prix series in 2007-2008.

Hinchcliffe has re-signed with Schmidt Peterson after three seasons with the team. His first was shortened due to his near life-threatening injuries sustained in an accident in practice for that year’s Indianapolis 500. A rapid and welcome recovery followed throughout the second half of 2015 before his comeback to action in 2016, with an Indianapolis 500 pole and a couple near-misses on wins that followed. In 2017, he won Round 2 at Long Beach but faltered in the second half of the year through a litany of mechanical woes and bad luck.

Wickens, meanwhile, faced an uncertain future when Mercedes-Benz announced earlier this year it would withdraw from DTM at the end of 2018. One of Hinchcliffe’s long-time friends, Wickens hasn’t raced full-time in North America in more than a decade since they were both in Formula Atlantic in 2007, at separate teams (Wickens at Red Bull Forsythe Racing and Hinchcliffe at Sierra Sierra Enterprises). As he pursued his Formula 1 dream and had a wealth of success in the junior series, he never got a proper shot, and has since gone onto several successful years with Mercedes in DTM.

A ride-swap between the two of them came together earlier this year where Wickens sampled Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda at Sebring’s short course, while Hinchcliffe then flew to Italy to sample Wickens’ Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM after the St. Petersburg season opener. Hinchcliffe ended 13th in points in IndyCar, Wickens ninth in DTM this year, both with one win each during the year. Wickens also had a Friday to sample the No. 7 Lucas Oil SPM Honda at Road America this year, but had to relinquish the seat once Aleshin returned from a visa issue.

“Not only am I really excited to be able to say I’ll be back with SPM for next year and beyond, but I am also really looking forward to being teammates with one of my oldest friends,” said Hinchcliffe.

“Robbie and I grew up racing against one another, eventually took different paths, me staying in North America in open-wheel cars and him going off to Europe in sports cars, but it’s pretty neat that we both ended up here and we get to live our dream of being professional racing drivers, together on the same team.

“I think 2018 is going to be a great year for the SPM organization, from having Robbie here to the team’s new partnership with Honda and the 2018 aero kit; I just can’t wait to get back on track and bring some good results home for the Arrow Electronics crew.”

Wickens added: “This is an entirely new chapter to add to my racing career, and I am really excited for this opportunity that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has given me.

“I think everyone knows the story by now that James and I grew up racing against one another in go karts, and to make it to the largest open-wheel racing series in North America together as teammates, it’s crazy to think about.

“I am very thankful for the six years I had with everyone at Mercedes and DTM; those are memories I will cherish forever. I can’t wait to truly see what the Verizon IndyCar Series is all about!”