PEVELY, Mo. – Brad Sweet continued his early-season march toward a third-straight World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship by winning Friday night at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.
Sweet slid Kraig Kinser for the top spot on a lap-19 restart and held off every advance Kinser made down the stretch, ultimately taking the checkered flag in front by 1.012 seconds.
It marked the third feature victory in a row for the Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb-owned, NAPA Auto Parts-backed No. 49 and Sweet’s fourth win of the year. It was his 62nd career Outlaw victory.
“We’ve got a good balance, that’s for sure,” tipped Sweet. “We don’t really want to give away our secrets, but there’s a lot of experience working together here, between Eric (Prutzman, crew chief), and (crew members) Andrew (Bowman) and Joe (Mooney). I think it says a lot with us all sticking together and having success. It’s kind of a dream come true. We’re working hard to capitalize on the situation that we’re in, and obviously it’s paying off so far this season, being 10 races in and having four wins.
“That’s a plus, but we know it’s a long season, and all the big money races are still ahead of us. We don’t want to get too excited yet, but it is nice to get a win and celebrate here a little,” Sweet added. “Honestly, I felt we were a little off at the end of that race. I felt like someone could have come (at us), maybe, on the bottom there. They said Kraig was coming a little closer, so I definitely need to get better. But to win from ninth against this competition says something about where we’re at with our team.”
Though Sweet had the measure of the field in the second half, the first 17 laps were all about 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz, who jetted to the point from the outside pole on the initial start and appeared to be well on his way to his milestone 300th career World of Outlaws victory.
Schatz led virtually uncontested until lap 18, when his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing No. 15 suddenly slowed in turns one and two with mechanical issues, forcing Schatz pitside as Kinser took over at the head of the field.
Kinser led lap 18 moments before the caution was called for Schatz, who retired from the race after briefly pushing back off. A Noah Gass flip on the ensuing restart forced a single-file restart from there, but also negated a masterful third-to-first move by Sheldon Haudenschild and put Kinser back out front.
The next restart is when Sweet pounced, darting to Kinser’s inside down the backstretch and completing the pass with a turn-three slide job. Sweet took off after that, extending his lead mightily before his teammate, James McFadden, got into the wall and slowed in turn two to bring out a yellow on lap 27.
Sweet led the field back to green with ease, but Jacob Allen got turned around in turn two after that to necessitate a final restart with 11 to go around the third-mile dirt track. With Kinser lurking behind Sweet, there was no margin for error – and Sweet made a perfect next restart to maintain control.
Though the battle for the lead got into traffic inside of five to go, Kinser couldn’t get close enough to make another run at Sweet, forced to settle for second in his Mesilla Valley Transportation No. 11k.
Logan Schuchart completed the podium, earned KSE Hard Charger honors and kept his streak of finishing inside the top 10 in every World of Outlaws race this season alive with a 16th-to-third run behind the wheel of the Drydene Performance Products-adorned, Shark Racing-wrenched No. 1s.
Haudenschild faded to fourth and Carson Macedo finished fifth, followed by Rico Abreu, Aaron Reutzel, David Gravel, Brian Brown and Sam Hafertepe Jr.
McFadden, who started on the pole after winning the DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash, rallied back to 11th, while Schatz was credited with a 20th-place finish and took an early hit to his hopes for an 11th title.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season continues Saturday night, back at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 for the second night of a doubleheader weekend.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.