Kevin Swindell back in Tulsa for Chili Bowl in new role as team owner

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The passion, will and body are all still there. But lingering recovery and rehabilitation make it impossible for Kevin Swindell to climb back into a race car just yet.

Even so, Swindell is back in Tulsa, Oklahoma this week for the 30th Chili Bowl Nationals. But this year, Swindell – who has placed in the top-2 each of the last six years – will not be racing, as he continues to recover from severe lower back and spinal cord injuries suffered in a sprint car race last August in a race at the Knoxville Nationals.

Despite his injuries and recovery, Swindell will be involved in this year’s race in a different capacity, that of team owner. He and partner Bernie Stuebgen have joined forces to campaign the No. 39 car, to be driven by Kevin Thomas Jr.

“I mean, it’s a lot of fun,” Swindell said in a press conference on Monday. “You definitely want to race after being on the podium those six years in row. It’s tough to not even be able to get into a car, but it’s fun to be a part of this however you can be.

“I definitely wanted to do everything I could to be as involved as I could. I was hoping I would heal enough to maybe jump in, but that didn’t happen quick enough. I’m just trying to enjoy it and maybe make somebody else get up there. If I can win as an owner, at least, would be fun.”

Added father Sammy Swindell, who has won the Chili Bowl a record 10 times, “It’s just something they put together and they got here with. It’s different for all of us, it’s a lot different for me, not being able to work with him on our car. I’m glad he could do it and hope he has a good time.”

The younger Swindell has gone through more than four months of physical therapy and rehabilitation to strengthen his back. He’s made great progress, but there’s still a significant journey ahead.

“It just depends on what heals,” he said. “I’ve got a lot back, but I haven’t got enough back yet to do it properly.”

Still, it’s clear by his words and actions that Swindell is itching to get back into a race car, even one that may have some modifications to make it easier on him.

“We’ve got the hand control stuff in my car over there right now,” he said. “But it probably wouldn’t be very good on my back yet if I jumped in and tried to race now.

“But we’ll see where I’m at a few months from now. And if I have to do it with my hands, I’ll try like hell to do it with my hands.”

Swindell has received a great deal of support from not only the sprint car and midget community, but racers of all types and in various series, as well as fans, have been very supportive.

That support has come in a number of ways, including cards, emails and financially to help with the monstrous medical bills Swindell has and will continue to incur.

“It’s huge,” Swindell said. “This whole community really is one big family. They always say it, but until something like this happens, you don’t really see it.

“It’s amazing, the outpouring of everything and stuff that still happens to this day. The therapy and stuff and amount I have to go through is going to take ungodly amounts of hospital bills, so everything has been a huge help and hopefully I’ll be walking around here next year.”

Swindell acknowledges that what happened to him at Knoxville was so far from the norm. Yet at the same time, he’s helping to lead a charge within the sprint and midget world to make cars even safer, particularly for lower back injuries.

“Over the years, they’ve worked a lot on not breaking our neck,” Swindell said. “Nobody really looked at breaking the bottom of your back.

“That was one of the softest crashes of my entire career and it just landed right. It’s kind of a freak deal and you haven’t really seen it at all, but it’s something we’re looking at real hard to try and eliminate and make sure nobody else has to go through us.”

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change