CONCORD, N.C. — Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne have transitioned from battling each other as championship-contending NASCAR drivers to competing against each other as championship-contending World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series team owners.
This year their teams are separated by only eight points heading into the season-ending Nov. 7-9 World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
Brad Sweet, driving for Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb, currently leads 10-time series champion Donny Schatz, driving for Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing.
If Sweet wins the championship it would be his first and KKR’s second World of Outlaws championship. If Schatz wins it would be his 11th and TSR’s 10th.
“It’s fun to watch the guys, the effort they put in this year,” Kahne said. “Not just this year, all of them have put in over the years. Especially Brad, as long as he’s been at KKR; see where he’s at and what he’s doing. It’s pretty awesome.”
Kahne won his first World of Outlaws championship as an owner in 2013, when Daryn Pittman edged Schatz for the title.
Eight of Stewart’s World of Outlaws championships as an owner have come with Schatz – including five in-a-row from 2014 to 2018. His first came in 2001 with Danny Lasoski.
“Whether it’s the 10th championship or your first one, every one of them is special,” Stewart said. “You’re racing against the best winged sprint car drivers and teams in the world. To win one is special and to win 10 – and have the ability to get to that landmark – that’s a huge accomplishment and something that means the world to not only me as a car owner but to the entire organization.”
KKR and TSR have been the most dominant and consistent teams this year. Sweet has won 16 races – breaking his record of winning at most nine races in a year – and Schatz has won 11 races, so far.
Both have finished outside the top 10 only seven times in 70 races and have collected more than 40 top-five finishes – Sweet has 45 and Schatz boasts 46.
While funding is a big factor to every team’s success, Stewart said it’s not the key to his team’s accomplishments.
“I think some have attributed our (TSR) and even Kasey Kahne Racing’s success to an extent in that we outspend everyone and that’s not at all the case,” Stewart said. “We’re (TSR) probably as frugal with our money, if not even more so, than some of the teams we race against. The biggest contributor to having success is actually people you have in place. From the people that you have working on the car to those in the office, they’re what make the difference.
“You’ve got four guys that show up every race, the three that work on the car and the driver. Not only do they have to work together and get along for over 90 nights a year, but they have the results. It really comes down to having quality people that work well together.”
Schatz is working with new crew chief, Steve “Scuba” Swenson, this year; however Swenson is not new to the team. He joined TSR in 2007 and has been on Schatz’s team during his last six championships.
Sweet is in his second year of working with crew chief Eric Prutzman, who used to work as a mechanic for TSR. Prutzman won four championships with Schatz during his time on the team.
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