Jake Swanson celebrated Valentine’s Day with a special kiss in Victory Lane Tuesday night at Volusia Speedway Park. Only, it was from a gator. A fake one. But a special one.
The Anaheim, CA driver wrapped up his first Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator Championship with the USAC Non-Wing Sprint Cars after accumulated the most points with a win Monday night and a fifth-place finish the final night.
“It’s incredible,” Swanson said about winning the iconic Big Gator trophy. “Really, just to think how far we’ve come. Really, it feels like a long time but it has been a short amount of time, you know, coming here (to Team AZ Racing) at the end of 2020 and just trying to figure things out. Once we did… here we are.
“It’s a pretty neat deal to take a driver from the western states, a team from the western states, not even hire anybody from the Midwest that knows all these tracks on the national circuit, the national tour and to just figure them out ourselves, it just says a lot about our race team.”
Since joining Team AZ Racing, Swanson has won three USAC Sprint Car Features – including his Volusia triumph Monday night – and three Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Car Series Features.
In his Volusia debut during the Xtreme Outlaw doubleheader last year, he and his team went through a bit of a learning curve. He finished seventh the first night and 16th the second night.
This year, with a general love for the track, a prime setup and stellar track conditions, everything aligned. He won from the pole Monday night and then went from eighth to fifth on Tuesday before parking his #21az in Victory Lane, along with the night’s Feature winner, Emerson Axsom.
“I love this place,” Swanson said about the half-mile Florida track. “Mike (Burkhart, his co-owner and crew chief) has a lot of history, a lot of experience with fast half miles, so he loves setting them up and I love driving them. Certainly, love this place, it races pretty well. We had a bottom and a top, and to me that’s a good racetrack as we can pass. As long as we can move around and pass guys.”
He passed enough to lock up the points battle and end his night with a kiss from his new life-size gator trophy.
Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals continues Wednesday, Feb. 15, with the DIRTcar Late Models and the return of the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds. For tickets, visit CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.