NEW RICHMOND, Wis. — The right-rear tire of Brad Sweet’s NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 car sagged lower to the ground with every inch the car rolled into the infield.
Fortunately for Sweet, his infield trip was to victory lane Saturday night at Cedar Lake Speedway.
It was his ninth win of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season, tying his win total last year and his record for most wins in a season, and his 43rd career Outlaw win overall.
After dropping out of the Friday night feature that was delayed by rain and opened Saturday’s program because of a broken U-joint, Sweet and his Kasey Kahne Racing team were on a mission with a back-up car in the night cap.
“I was disappointed, but we win as a team, we lose as a team,” Sweet said. “Every now and then you have a mechanical failure. We’ll go back and look at it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
After about an hour turnaround to get the back-up car ready, he qualified eighth and then finished second in his Dryden Heat race behind Sheldon Haudenschild, who won the first feature of the night. If there were still any concerns about how the back-up car would run, they were extinguished in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash.
Sweet ran second to Dominic Scelzi for the first half of the dash, but found grip riding the bottom of the track and reeled Scelzi in lap by lap. On the final lap, the two California-natives charged down the front stretch side by side with Sweet edging out Scelzi for the win.
Now with the pole position for the feature, Sweet was in prime position to rebound from his 23rd-place finish earlier in the night.
He launched to the lead on the initial start. Scelzi didn’t let Sweet get far, though. Five laps into the race, Scelzi snuck underneath Sweet in turns one and two. It wasn’t enough. Sweet charged off the top side of the track and maintained the lead. Scelzi wasn’t ready to give up. He charged back underneath Sweet, but, again, Sweet had the advantage on the high side. He shot to the lead and pulled away from Scelzi.
For the remaining 30 laps, Sweet held command of the race. Scelzi was left to fight for second-place, which he eventually lost to David Gravel. Carson Macedo wasn’t far behind, stealing third from Scelzi, as well.
Traffic became an obstacle at times for Sweet, but had little effect on slowing him down. He was denied a chance at a win earlier in the night. That was not going to happen again. He crossed the finish line with about a straightaway lead, ending the long day with a win.
“It was pretty cool that a car that just sits in our trailer we can bring out first night out and get it going that good,” Sweet said. “It’s been a long day, but it’s nice to celebrate another win. I want to keep it rolling. I have a great race car.”
In the first feature of the night, 10-time series champion Donny Schatz finished second – cutting Sweet’s points lead in half. However, with Schatz finishing seventh in the second feature, Sweet was able to maintain a 50-point lead over Schatz.
“We’re happy with a second,” said Gravel. “We didn’t have a shot to win there. But happy with second. I think that was the best-case scenario for us. Brad got by a couple of lap cars and just wasn’t able to get back by the cars he did and kind of got stuck there.”
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