BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Brad Sweet wasn’t the big winner during Wednesday’s DIRTcar Nationals sprint car kickoff at Volusia Speedway Park, but he did get his season started on the right foot.
Sweet posted a third-place finish during the 25-lap All Star Circuit of Champions main event that headlined the night, battling with eventual winner Logan Schuchart and runner-up Donny Schatz most of the way.
The Grass Valley, Calif., native admitted after the race that he wasn’t happy with a few of the decisions he made on the fly, but that his team is where he hoped it would be to start the year.
“We had a good race car for sure. Lapped traffic just didn’t work out quite how we needed it to; I didn’t time my moves right,” Sweet explained. “They were changing lanes and I was thinking they were going in different directions. I just have to do a little bit better job. When you have the lead against Donny and then give it up, that’s obviously not how you’re going to win races. I was able to pace him pretty well and ran him back down, but I just wasn’t good enough off the cushion to make something happen like Logan did.
“We have to get our side just a little better. We were close, but not right where we needed to be,” Sweet added. “I thought I found the middle or the bottom a couple of times in the race, but I still wasn’t maintaining the speed I needed to keep up with Donny. Just have to keep improving.”
Sweet is chasing his third straight World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship this year, but he’s also after his record-tying third DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator title at Volusia.
The NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 is the defending Big Gator champion and Sweet believes he’s got a good shot at taking home another of the reptilian trophies by the end of the week.
“I think this is the type of race track they’re going to get pretty much all week, so we’re definitely going to have to improve our car just a little bit, but we’re really close,” Sweet said. “I’m happy with our first night out with the car. It did everything we wanted it to, and I can’t thank all our NAPA Auto Parts guys enough for all the effort they put in to making this all happen for us.
“We’ll keep plugging away. There are four more nights to get back to victory lane here.”