CONCORD, N.C. – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship won’t be determined until the final lap of the season-ending Nov. 7-9 Can-Am World Finals.
Brad Sweet currently leads reigning champion Donny Schatz by eight points heading into the final two races of the year at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Sweet is chasing his first championship, while Schatz is hunting his 11th title and sixth in a row.
They’ve been the most consistent drivers this year. Both have finished outside the top-10 only seven times in 70 races. They also both have more than 40 top-five finishes – Sweet has 45 and Schatz boasts 46.
Sweet will end the season as the winningest driver – the first time in seven years someone other than Schatz ended the year with the most wins. That statistic will help Sweet secure the championship if there is a tie in points after the final race.
The tie breaker is determined by the greatest number of wins during the season.
If history repeats itself, a tie is possible. Schatz gained eight points on Sweet during last year’s World Finals. However, in the two years prior, Schatz gained 36 points on Sweet.
They’ll have two races at The Dirt Track at Charlotte to put a period on their historically-close points battle and be crowned the 2019 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion.
Here’s how Sweet and Schatz have performed at The Dirt Track at Charlotte since 2014 (Sweet’s first full-time season):
Sweet has yet to win at the four-tenths-mile Charlotte dirt track, however, he is the winningest driver on four-tenths-mile tracks this year – with two wins at the Jackson Motorplex and one at Lernerville Speedway.
Sweet’s best finish at Charlotte this year was fourth in May at the Patriot Nationals. He has seven top-five and 12 top-10 finishes at Charlotte, with 28 laps led and a best effort of second in the last six years. His average finish at the four-tenths-mile oval is 7.8.
Over the last three years, Sweet has lost points to Schatz at the World Finals, dropping eight points last year and 36 points apiece in both 2017 and 2016. However, in 2015 he gained six points on Schatz and in 2014, he doubled that total with 12 points gained.
Sweet noted that a championship, in his mind, is the last missing piece on his resume.
“We’ve won the Kings Royal and the Knoxville Nationals, the next thing to do would be to win a World of Outlaws championship. You only get these opportunities so often,” he said. “We’ve never been in this situation before, this close to Donny. You never know what next year brings. We just really want to capitalize on the opportunity we have in front of us.
“It’s never easy to beat a 10-time champ, so we know we have to be perfect.”
Schatz has led laps and won at least one race at the Charlotte dirt track every year since 2015. His best finish at the track this year is seventh in May. He led 11 laps in May before blowing a tire.
He also gained eight points on Sweet during the May Patriot Nationals doubleheader.
All told, Schatz is a 12-time winner at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, but since 2014 he has 11 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, with 105 laps led and a worst finish of just 11th place. His average Charlotte result since Sweet joined the tour full time is 4.6.
Though Schatz has been fighting from behind for much of the year, he still has confidence that an 11th Outlaw championship is possible for him.
“I have all the faith in the world in everyone at Tony Stewart Racing. I’ve been here 12-plus years and I hope I’m here that long going forward, still being competitive,” Schatz said. “Right now, we’re at that point where we’ve got to build back up to where we want to be, the king of the hill. We’re not there right now, but that’s part of it.
“We’ve been in that position for a long time. We’ll get there again.”