From Brian Walker / worldofoutlaws.com
Any of the 10 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champions will tell you that the ability to battle adversity is crucial in climbing the mountaintop.
If you’re one of the best, you’re certainly going to experience a fair share of glorious moments over the course of a 90-race schedule, but you’re not exempt from the bumps in the road. It’s about how you handle those moments that define your season.
On Saturday, David Gravel and Big Game Motorsports passed their first true test of the season with flying colors. From on the wrecker with a junked race car at 10pm Friday night to basking in victory lane’s confetti at 10pm on Saturday, the #2 boys excelled with an A+ bounce back.
“This feels really good,” a relieved Gravel said post-race. “I feel like we’ve been in contention to win every race this year but maybe one, so to have a 15th & 23rd following that start to the season was a bit depressing. We knew we were fast every night, but the results just didn’t show for it. These guys busted their asses today to make this possible. They woke up super early, built this new car, and it all paid off.”
A 7am alarm clock and all-day effort from Cody Jacobs, Trey Bowman, and Zach Patterson eventually led to the new car being finished just before hot laps. From there, Gravel took the wheel and did what he does best – timing in second, winning the heat, and topping a wild 30-lapper at Perris Auto Speedway.
To seal the deal on the rewarding comeback, Gravel was forced to manage a race that featured the most lead changes this season. He and Carson Macedo swapped the top spot on five occasions, including a pair of sliders on Lap 28 as things got heated. The Watertown, CT native then survived a green-white-checkered to bank his 71st career win and second of the 2022 season.
“When the #41 slid me like that I was ready to go and I was gonna give it right back at him,” Gravel commented on his battle with Macedo. “Those cautions were killing me, but it all worked out. These guys had to strip down the junked car, build this kit car today, and I’m glad I can reward them with a win. We deserved this win.”
Finishing second for the second-straight night was Corey Day, a teenager who continues to steal headlines across the nation. On Friday, he set the record for youngest runner-up in World of Outlaws history at 16 years, 3 months, 27 days. On Saturday, he took to the PAS 1/2-mile one day wiser and backed up his performance with another P2 effort against The Greatest Show on Dirt.
The Clovis, CA native and prodigy of two-time World of Outlaws champion Jason Meyers dealt with his own slice of adversity, too. Contact with Macedo at the start of the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash sent the #14 flipping before he even had a shot to race for the pole position. After repairs were made, Day started sixth in the Feature and drove forward to earn his second podium in his third-career start.
“Running second against the Outlaws is cool enough, but then to do it two nights in a row is crazy,” said Corey, the son of former west coast sprint car star Ronnie Day. “I watch these guys on DIRTvision every single week and try to learn as much as possible, especially when I’m racing against them. I messed up that last restart again like I did last night, but it’s a teaching moment.”
Finishing third was Carson Macedo of Lemoore, CA in the Jason Johnson Racing, Albaugh #41. He paced the opening seven laps on Saturday, then again controlled laps 9-12, and briefly commanded lap 28, but ultimately took the final step of the podium.
Going for his 20th career win – 5th in his home state of California – Macedo was all over Gravel for the win until a tiny mistake sent the Phil Dietz prepared machine over the cushion and backward at the white flag. It’s their third podium in 10 races as JJR continues to build a championship-contending operation.
“To win these Outlaw races you can’t make any mistakes, and I made too many tonight,” Macedo admitted on the frontstretch. “I felt strong early on, but definitely stalled out when I hit traffic. It’s so tough to be the leader in those situations because you just don’t know where to go. I threw a couple of things at David, but couldn’t land them right in front of him. I just need to get a little sharper.”
Closing out the top-five on Saturday night was championship leader Brad Sweet in fourth-place aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49, and Sheldon Haudenschild with a west coast best of fifth-place in the Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink #17.
Rounding out the top-10 at Perris was D.J. Netto in the Netto Ag #88N, Jacob Allen in the Shark Racing #1A, Spencer Bayston in the CJB Motorsports #5, Cory Eliason in the Rudeen Racing #26, and Donny Schatz in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15.
Up Next: After three weeks in California, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series now begins the journey back east. The Greatest Show on Dirt has a busy week with three races including stops at Vado (NM) Speedway Park on Tuesday, March 29, Lawton (OK) Speedway on Friday, April 1, and Devil’s Bowl (TX) on Saturday, April 2.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (31 Laps, GWC)
1. 2-David Gravel [$10,000]; 2. 14-Corey Day [$6,000]; 3. 41-Carson Macedo [$3,500]; 4. 49-Brad Sweet [$2,800]; 5. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$2,500]; 6. 88N-DJ Netto [$2,300]; 7. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,200]; 8. 5-Spencer Bayston [$2,100]; 9. 26-Cory Eliason [$2,050]; 10. 15-Donny Schatz [$2,000]; 11. 18-Giovanni Scelzi [$1,600]; 12. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$1,400]; 13. 24-Rico Abreu [$1,200]; 14. 24X-Chase Johnson [$1,100]; 15. 21-Mitchell Faccinto [$1,050]; 16. 83JR-Kerry Madsen [$1,000]; 17. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$1,000]; 18. 88-Austin McCarl [$1,000]; 19. 7S-Jason Sides [$1,000]; 20. 19AZ-Tanner Thorson [$1,000]; 21. 41S-Dominic Scelzi [$1,000]; 22. 83-James McFadden [$1,000]; 23. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$1,000]; 24. 91R-Brody Roa [$1,000].
Championship Standings (After 10/85 Races):
1. Brad Sweet (1,400); 2. Carson Macedo (-20); 3. David Gravel (-22); 4. Sheldon Haudenschild (-46); 5. Giovanni Scelzi (-88); 6. James McFadden (-98); 7. Donny Schatz (-100); 8. Logan Schuchart (-104); 9. Cory Eliason (-106); 10. Spencer Bayston (-148).
See the full recap and results:
Photo: Trent Gower / worldofoutlaws.com