From Brian Walker / worldofoutlaws.com
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship battle is coming down to crunch time, so naturally, Brad Sweet is beginning to thrive under the pressure.
With only 10 races remaining in the 2022 campaign ahead of Saturday’s stop at Sharon Speedway, “The Big Cat” chose a fine time to step up and deliver what was arguably his biggest statement of the year.
The Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 team led all 35 laps in dominant fashion, running away with a 3.4-second margin of victory over Donny Schatz and Sheldon Haudenschild in an unchallenged romp at the Hartford, OH venue.
Bringing his total to five Series wins this year, the Grass Valley, CA native now leads David Gravel and Carson Macedo by 96 points with another nine races left on the docket. It’s clear now that Sweet controls his own destiny in the chase for a $200,000 championship payday with his fourth consecutive title.
“First things first, hats off to my crew,” Sweet said after his 79th career World of Outlaws win. “They gave me a great race car tonight. I would’ve said you’re crazy if you told me I would win pounding the boards tonight, but here we are. That is more Sheldon’s style, but this NAPA #49 took off so well up there. We weren’t great in the Dash and rolled the dice before the Feature, and thankfully, it paid off. I’m glad I could get us back in Victory Lane. We’ve had a rough year in the win column, so this one feels extra good.”
Running in the second spot for the entirety of Saturday’s 35-lapper was Donny Schatz, who earned his sixth runner-up result of the year in his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing, Ford Performance, Carquest Auto Parts #15. The 10-time Series champion was poised to lead the initial green flag from the pole position, but a caution negated his jump and allowed Sweet to pounce the next time.
“I don’t know that we were missing anything tonight,” Schatz said. “It was a great car, but Brad got up there first and I was too focused on trying to make the middle work to try and get him somehow. I really didn’t think it would go to the top like that. My guys put a new car together before yesterday and we’re off to a strong start with this one.”
Rounding out the podium at Sharon was Sheldon Haudenschild in the Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink #17. It was a strong rebound for the Wooster, OH native following a rough Friday night at Eldora Speedway which ended with a DNF following three on-track incidents.
“[Kyle] Ripper worked on it before we rolled out and we got better, but just didn’t have enough tonight,” Haudenschild said. “They moved those tires out quite a bit on this track and it made things a lot more difficult. You know the #15 and #49 are not going to make very many mistakes ahead of you. After the rough night we had yesterday, though, it feels great to rebound and put these guys back on the podium.”
Closing out the top-five on Saturday at Sharon was David Gravel with a fourth-place finish in the Big Game Motorsports, Huset’s Speedway #2, and James McFadden coming home fifth in the Roth Motorsports, Toyota Racing Development #83.
Jacob Allen extended his career-best streak to 13 consecutive top-10 finishes with another sixth-place run aboard the Shark Racing #1A. Rounding out the top-10 behind him was leading rookie contender Spencer Bayston, sophomore runner Brock Zearfoss, Hard Charger Logan Schuchart, and Lee Jacobs, of Dalton, OH, with his fourth-career World of Outlaws top-10.
UP NEXT (Fri-Sat):
Next week, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returns to “The Keystone State” for the most prestigious event in Pennsylvania. Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA is set to host the 60th Champion Racing Oil National Open on Friday and Saturday, offering a $75,000 top prize to this year’s winner of the famed Outlaws vs. Posse battle.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (35 Laps):
1. 49-Brad Sweet [$10,000]; 2. 15-Donny Schatz [$6,000]; 3. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$3,500]; 4. 2-David Gravel [$2,800]; 5. 83-James McFadden [$2,500]; 6. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,300]; 7. 5-Spencer Bayston [$2,200]; 8. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$2,100]; 9. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$2,050]; 10. 81-Lee Jacobs [$2,000]; 11. 10-Dave Blaney [$1,600]; 12. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$1,400]; 13. 10B-Dale Blaney [$1,200]; 14. 22-Brandon Spithaler [$1,100]; 15. 40-George Hobaugh [$1,050]; 16. 2F-AJ Flick [$1,000]; 17. 7S-Robbie Price [$1,000]; 18. 46-Michael Bauer [$1,000]; 19. 6-Bob Felmlee [$1,000]; 20. 1M-Landon Myers [$1,000]; 21. 20G-Noah Gass [$1,000]; 22. 41-Carson Macedo [$1,000]; 23. 29M-Logan McCandless [$1,000]; 24. 11-Carl Bowser [$1,000]. Lap Leaders: Brad Sweet 1-35. KSE Hard Charger Award: 1S-Logan Schuchart[+12]
Championship Standings (65/74 Races):
1. Brad Sweet (8,076); 2. David Gravel (-96); 3. Carson Macedo (-140); 4. Sheldon Haudenschild (-240); 5. Donny Schatz (-244); 6. Logan Schuchart (-326); 7. James McFadden (-466); 8. Spencer Bayston (-540); 9. Jacob Allen (-660); 10. Brock Zearfoss (-878).
See the full story and results:
Photo: worldofoutlaws.com / Trent Gower