It was 13 years ago that Daryn Pittman took the win at the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif. He’s been fighting to return to victory lane ever since.
Meanwhile, Brad Sweet has never claimed the Gold Cup and was hungry for his first checkers at the event’s finale.
As the four days of racing kicked off, Andy Forsberg took the win in the 360ci Platinum Cup feature on night one, while Shane Golobic took the checkers on night two to claim the Platinum Cup finale, the lead-in to the two-day World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series-sanctioned Gold Cup Race of Champions.
The first of two nights of WoO action kicked off with Sheldon Haudenschild earning quick time with a lap of 12.117 seconds around the quarter-mile oval.
Come feature time, two Californians, Tim Kaeding and Shane Golobic sat on the front row. Kaeding took the point at the start with Golobic in second.
Meanwhile another Californian in Sweet sat third and was working hard to get around Golobic, while both leaders ran the high side.
On a lap-two restart, Sweet was able to dive under Golobic to make the pass, but the next corner Golobic reclaimed the runner-up spot.
One lap later, Sweet made the pass on the high side, but Golobic powered off the bottom of turn four to again retake the position.
Two laps later, the two were side-by-side, with Sweet up top and Golobic on the bottom. They ran that way for two laps before Sweet claimed the spot and set sights on Kaeding.
Sweet caught Kaeding by the halfway point, and two laps later the two went into turn one battling for position. Kaeding’s right rear slid off the track as he exited turn two down the backstretch, and Sweet dove the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 underneath to take the lead.
“I stepped on my you-know-what a little bit coming off of two and just gave Brad that opportunity to get by us,” Kaeding said after the race.
Sweet went on to claim the win in the 30-lapper, with Kaeding second and Golobic in third. Sheldon Haudenschild drove from 13th to fourth and Donny Schatz finished fifth.
Fresh off his win on prelim night, Sweet kicked off the evening of the finale by setting quick time with a lap of 12.177 seconds.
Daryn Pittman and David Gravel led the field to green, with Pittman jumping into the lead at the start. Pittman quickly put some distance between himself and runner-up Gravel, while Sweet began challenging third-running Brent Marks for his position.
Kraig Kinser went off the track in turn four, bringing out the caution on lap 10. On the restart, Gravel made the pass for the lead, however Ian Madsen crashed in turn four and brought out the caution before the lap was completed, negating the pass for the lead.
Gold Cup Finishing Order
1 – Daryn Pittman
2 – Brad Sweet
3 – Logan Schuchart
4 – David Gravel
5 – Sheldon Haudenschild
6 – Tim Kaeding
7 – Carson Macedo
8 – Donny Schatz
9 – Ian Madsen
10 – Brent Marks
11 – Bud Kaeding
12 – Rico Abreu
13 – Dominic Scelzi
14 – Shane Golobic
15 – Shane Stewart
16 – Geoff Ensign
17 – Jonathan Allard
18 – Austen Wheatley
19 – Justin Sanders
20 – Kraig Kinser
21 – Colby Copeland
22 – Stephan Ingraham
23 – Jacob Allen
24 – Willie Croft
With 26 laps remaining Jacob Allen flipped, bringing out the red. On the restart, Sweet passed Gravel for second, and began the hunt for Pittman.
Behind Sweet, Gravel, Marks, Logan Shuchart and Tim Kaeding were trading slide jobs attempting to lay claim to the third position.
With six laps remaining, Shuchart took the spot for good and joined Sweet in the effort to track down Pittman.
Pittman got bogged down in heavy lapped traffic, allowing Sweet and Schuchart to close, with Sweet making a dive to the bottom and briefly taking the lead before Pittman retook the point in the next corner.
In 2014, Pittman dominated the Gold Cup before a late-race restart allowed Jonathon Allard to make a pass to steal the win. As Pittman ticked down the laps in this year’s running, a caution with two laps remaining would give Pittman a sense of possible déjà vu and offer Sweet an opportunity to perhaps do the same.
But this time Pittman was having none of it, powering into turn one and putting a three-car lead between his Roth Motorsports No. 83 and Sweet and staying out front to earn the win.
Sweet was forced to settle for second, while Schuchart drove from 12th to third, Gravel took fourth, and Sheldon Haudenschild came from 13th to fifth.
In addition to being his second Gold Cup victory, it was also Pittman’s 85th career World of Outlaws feature win, moving him ahead of Stevie Smith as the series’ ninth-winningest driver of all time.