From Alex Nieten / worldofoutlaws.com
David Gravel Continues to Make Early Season Championship Statements
On Monday night at Volusia Speedway Park, David Gravel continued to flex his early season muscle and make yet another championship statement as he seeks his first World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car title.
Gravel dominated the second round of the Low-E Insulation Spring Showdown, leading all 30 laps around the Barberville, FL half-mile on his way to his third win through five races in 2023. The victory marked his 79th with The Greatest Show on Dirt, equaling him with four-time and defending champion, Brad Sweet, for 11th on the all-time win list.
The triumph also marked a handful of other milestones for the Watertown, CT native. Volusia is now tied for Gravel’s third winningest track on his World of Outlaws record with four victories to his credit. It also made him the fifth winningest Series driver at Volusia through the Series’ now 56 visits to the facility.
Perhaps the statistic that would appeal most to the 30-year-old is the fact that the last time a driver claimed at least three of the first five races, they went on to win the championship (Donny Schatz, 2018).
“It’s been a really good start, man” Gravel said of his early success. “I got into a little bit of a scuffle last night and kind of stubbed our toe a little bit there, but, man, if we were able to finish where I thought we would’ve in that Feature, it would just be an unreal start. I can’t ask for anymore. It’s a dream to win three out of five races. You really can’t ask for much more than that.”
Gravel made it clear from the drop of the green flag that he was going to be a force during the main event aboard the Big Game Motorsports #2. Heading into the first two turns he darted around pole-sitter, Jacob Allen, and set a blazing pace.
Even lapped traffic proved to be no match early on as Gravel sliced through slower cars. Behind him, battles broke out for spots within the top-five between Allen, Brad Sweet, and Carson Macedo.
Gravel’s biggest challenge arose after the halfway point in the form of the winner of Spring Showdown round one, Macedo. The Jason Johnson Racing #41 driver roared into the runner-up spot around Allen and set his sights on Gravel.
Macedo closed in amid heavy lapped traffic and appeared poised to give Gravel a battle. However, a lapped car drove back around Macedo’s outside when he attempted a slider, breaking his momentum and allowing Gravel to drive away.
Some late cautions gave Macedo a hint of hope lining him up next to Gravel, but clean air proved to be too valuable as Gravel again put a gap between himself and Macedo. Gravel went on to claim the checkered flag by 2.055 seconds.
“Our big track program is really good,” Gravel said. “We have great running engines. We won the last race here last year. I feel like we had momentum from there. It’s good to win races because it’s not easy doing it.”
Macedo’s runner-up marked his 69th podium with the World of Outlaws and second in two nights after he topped Sunday’s Spring Showdown opener. While he hasn’t been as consistent as Gravel, he hasn’t finished worse than ninth through five races as he also pursues his first championship.
While he was disappointed to not get the win, the consistent start and bigger picture kept the Lemoore, CA native feeling optimistic.
“When the caution came out, I was a little bit bummed,” Macedo said. “Ultimately, I’m proud of my race team. Phil Dietz, Clyde Knipp, and Nate Repetz did an incredible job. I thought my car was as good as David’s. Obviously, he was really good in clean air. I feel like if we would’ve been in clean air, we would’ve had a good shot to win.
“I said my main goal when this season started was consistency. I feel like we have that right now. My guys are giving me consistent racecars that feel really good every time I hit the track, so that’s half the battle, and I’m just hoping we can keep this car up front.”
Completing the podium was the night’s pole sitter, Jacob Allen. The Shark Racing driver’s third-place effort marked his personal best at Volusia and the 23rd podium of his World of Outlaws career. The result was especially encouraging after combatting some recent bad luck.
“I have a lot of confidence in my race team and myself,” Allen noted. “To have a couple good runs, start in the top-five, then to have a little bit of issues were, I wouldn’t say disappointing, but you feel a little sad that those things happen. But to end this trip with a podium feels really good. I feel like we’re going to be there to win many races this season, and that’s what I believe we can do is win a lot of races this season.”
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars will travel to Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway for rounds three and four of the Low-E Insulation Spring Showdown on March 10-11.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every lap of World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series action live on DIRTVision.
Feature (30 Laps):
1. 2-David Gravel; 2. 41-Carson Macedo; 3. 1A-Jacob Allen; 4. 15-Donny Schatz; 5. 5-Spencer Bayston; 6. 49-Brad Sweet; 7. 11-Michael Kofoid; 8. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 9. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 10. 83-James McFadden; 11. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 12. 8-Aaron Reutzel; 13. 13-Justin Peck; 14. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 15. 20G-Noah Gass; 16. 9-Kasey Kahne; 17. 21-Brian Brown; 18. 5T-Ryan Timms; 19. 7S-Robbie Price; 20. 97UK-Ryan Harrison; 21. 26-Zeb Wise; 22. 6-Bill Rose; 23. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr
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Photo's: Trent Gower / worldofoutlaws.com
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