BACK ON TOP: Brad Sweet wins second night at DIRTcar Nationals
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Trent Gower
Sweet leads Kasey Kahne Racing World of Outlaws 1-2 finish at Volusia Speedway Park

Brad Sweet is beginning the 2020 season the same way he ended the last, as the top dog — or in his case, the Big Cat.

The reigning champion, of Grass Valley, CA, won Saturday’s second night of World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series action during the DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford — after opening the season with a third-place run.

“It’s nice to get the first Outlaws win out of the way,” said an elated Sweet, holding his daughter in Victory Lane at Volusia Speedway Park.

Sweet has yet to finish outside the top-three throughout the Sprint Car races at the DIRTcar Nationals. He won the opening DIRTcar Nationals race with the All Star Circuit of Champions, finished second the next night with the All Stars, finished third in the season opener for the World of Outlaws and then found Victory Lane once again.

His path to his first World of Outlaws win of the year – and 51st career win overall – was not claimed with ease.

At the start of the 30-lap Feature, Sweet – who lined up second alongside polesitter Ian Madsen – found himself chasing the swift Australian in the opening laps. Madsen pulled ahead to almost a half straightaway lead over the 2019 champion.

Once Madsen reached lap traffic, Sweet began to slowly reel him in. On Lap 7 Sweet dove underneath Madsen into Turn One, taking the lead. As Sweet’s car drifted up the track off Turn 2, Madsen had a power run around the top, rapidly charging toward Sweet, and the two collided. Sweet’s right rear touched with Madsen’s left front, sending Madsen into the catchfence.

After the hard hit, Madsen later went to Twitter and said: “I take responsibility for the crash tonight. World of Outlaws wins are extremely hard to come by, and you can’t give an inch when racing for the win. That being said, I made a misjudgment which cost my team a car and a chance for the win.”

After an Open Red period to repair part of the Turn 2 fence, Sweet launched to the lead on the restart, pulling away from second-place Brian Brown by a half straightaway. Sweet’s Kasey Kahne Racing teammate James McFadden charged from fourth to second in two laps and began his hunt for the lead.

By the time McFadden comfortably placed himself in the runner-up position, Sweet had already pulled away to a straightaway lead. However, by Lap 16, McFadden cut Sweet’s lead in half.

McFadden closed within a car length of his teammate, but Sweet gave a masterclass in working through lap traffic, at times dodging cars like he saw the future and knew exactly where every car would be.

“He (Sweet) did a really good job there getting into (Turn) 3 and splitting those (lap) cars,” McFadden said. “I was actually thinking, ‘We’re pretty good here and might have a shot,’ but he got by those cars pretty quick and left me hanging.”

Sweet and McFadden gave Kasey Kahne Racing its first one-two finish since 2016 at Cotton Bowl Speedway.

“Early in the season, great way to start for the teams,” Kasey Kahne said. “Brad and the NAPA guys have been on every single night. It’s great to have James back in the #9. He did a great job for us last year and is back at it. It’s going to be a lot of fun this whole season.”

Last year’s DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championship winner Daryn Pittman rounded out the top three.

A few spots back, Logan Schuchart put on the other show of the night. The Hanover, PA driver went from finishing second in the season opener, to having to use a provisional to start the Feature, but in the main event he made an impressive charge from 25th to fifth.

“I felt good all night,” Schuchart said. “I felt like I had a good car. We were really fast last night. I don’t know what we missed in qualifying. I’m still stumbled about that.”

Ten-time Series champion Donny Schatz, who won the season opening race, placed sixth after starting ninth.

Sweet is back in familiar territory, atop the World of Outlaws point standings – six points ahead of Schatz. He also leads the DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championship points with one race remaining. McFadden is second, 38 points behind Sweet and Schatz is third, 50 points out of the lead. If he is able to secure the Big Gator on Sunday, it would his second – having one his first in 2016.

“They (KKR) have been giving me great race cars,” Sweet said. “We’ve been on the podium every single night, second win of the week. Hats off to them and hopefully we finish strong tomorrow.”

Frank Smith photo

UP NEXT

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series on Feb. 9 returns to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL for the final night of DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford action. Get tickets and more information.

RESULTS

NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps) – 1. 49-Brad Sweet [2][$10,000]; 2. 9-James McFadden [7][$5,500]; 3. 83-Daryn Pittman [6][$3,200]; 4. 21-Brian Brown [3][$2,800]; 5. 1S-Logan Schuchart [25][$1,700]; 6. 15-Donny Schatz [9][$2,300]; 7. 2-Carson Macedo [5][$2,200]; 8. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [13][$2,100]; 9. 87-Aaron Reutzel [23][$2,050]; 10. 15H-Sam Hafertepe [4][$2,000]; 11. 5-Brent Marks [10][$1,500]; 12. 26-Cory Eliason [8][$1,200]; 13. 2M-Kerry Madsen [12][$1,100]; 14. 41-Parker Price-Miller [16][$1,050]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich [17][$1,000]; 16. 7-Shane Stewart [15][$900]; 17. 3C-Cale Conley [20][$800]; 18. 7S-Jason Sides [26][$]; 19. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [22][$800]; 20. 11K-Kraig Kinser [24][$800]; 21. 1A-Jacob Allen [21][$800]; 22. 39M-Anthony Macri [18][$800]; 23. 57-Kyle Larson [19][$800]; 24. 2C-Wayne Johnson [27][$]; 25. 5W-Lucas Wolfe [14][$800]; 26. 18-Ian Madsen [1][$800]; 27. 14-Tim Shaffer [11][$800]: Lap Leaders: Ian Madsen 1-7, Brad Sweet 8-30; KSE Hard Charger Award: 1S-Logan Schuchart[+20]

Qualifying – 1. 83-Daryn Pittman, 13.412; 2. 2-Carson Macedo, 13.454; 3. 14-Tim Shaffer, 13.465; 4. 49-Brad Sweet, 13.474; 5. 15H-Sam Hafertepe, 13.51; 6. 9-James McFadden, 13.54; 7. 21-Brian Brown, 13.579; 8. 18-Ian Madsen, 13.593; 9. 15-Donny Schatz, 13.597; 10. 5W-Lucas Wolfe, 13.625; 11. 7-Shane Stewart, 13.659; 12. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss, 13.675; 13. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.68; 14. 5-Brent Marks, 13.682; 15. 26-Cory Eliason, 13.688; 16. 2M-Kerry Madsen, 13.701; 17. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 13.728; 18. 39M-Anthony Macri, 13.73; 19. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.736; 20. 41-Parker Price-Miller, 13.738; 21. 48-Danny Dietrich, 13.739; 22. 13-Paul McMahan, 13.751; 23. 57-Kyle Larson, 13.77; 24. 3C-Cale Conley, 13.81; 25. 2C-Wayne Johnson, 13.818; 26. J4-John Garvin, 13.885; 27. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 13.915; 28. 7S-Jason Sides, 13.928; 29. 4-Terry McCarl, 13.93; 30. W20-Greg Wilson, 13.933; 31. 15K-Chad Kemenah, 13.96; 32. 6-Bill Rose, 14.267; 33. 33M-Mason Daniel, 14.323; 34. 11K-Kraig Kinser, NT; 35. B15-Kurt Conklin, NT

DRYDENE Heat #1 (8 Laps) – 1. 83-Daryn Pittman [1]; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe [2]; 3. 15-Donny Schatz [3]; 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [5]; 5. 48-Danny Dietrich [6]; 6. 1A-Jacob Allen [4]; 7. 4-Terry McCarl [8]; 8. 2C-Wayne Johnson [7]; 9. 33M-Mason Daniel [9]

DRYDENE Heat #2 (8 Laps) – 1. 9-James McFadden [2]; 2. 2-Carson Macedo [1]; 3. 5-Brent Marks [4]; 4. 5W-Lucas Wolfe [3]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri [5]; 6. W20-Greg Wilson [8]; 7. 11K-Kraig Kinser [9]; 8. 13-Paul McMahan [6]; 9. J4-John Garvin [7]

DRYDENE Heat #3 (8 Laps) – 1. 26-Cory Eliason [4]; 2. 21-Brian Brown [2]; 3. 14-Tim Shaffer [1]; 4. 7-Shane Stewart [3]; 5. 57-Kyle Larson [6]; 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel [7]; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart [5]; 8. 15K-Chad Kemenah [8]; 9. B15-Kurt Conklin [9]

DRYDENE Heat #4 (8 Laps) – 1. 18-Ian Madsen [2]; 2. 49-Brad Sweet [1]; 3. 2M-Kerry Madsen [4]; 4. 41-Parker Price-Miller [5]; 5. 3C-Cale Conley [6]; 6. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [3]; 7. 7S-Jason Sides [7]; 8. 6-Bill Rose [8]

DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash (6 Laps) – 1. 18-Ian Madsen [1]; 2. 49-Brad Sweet [7]; 3. 21-Brian Brown [3]; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe [2]; 5. 2-Carson Macedo [5]; 6. 83-Daryn Pittman [4]; 7. 9-James McFadden [6]; 8. 26-Cory Eliason [8]

Last Chance Showdown (12 Laps) – 1. 1A-Jacob Allen [2][-]; 2. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [1][-]; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel [4][-]; 4. 11K-Kraig Kinser [6][-]; 5. 1S-Logan Schuchart [7][$300]; 6. 13-Paul McMahan [10][$250]; 7. W20-Greg Wilson [3][$225]; 8. 7S-Jason Sides [8][$200]; 9. 2C-Wayne Johnson [9][$200]; 10. 15K-Chad Kemenah [11][$200]; 11. 33M-Mason Daniel [13][$200]; 12. 6-Bill Rose [12][$200]; 13. 4-Terry McCarl [5][$200]; 14. J4-John Garvin [14][$200]; 15. B15-Kurt Conklin [15][$200]

DIRTCAR NATIONALS BIG GATOR POINTS TOP 10
Postion-Driver-Points

1-Brad Sweet-990
2-Donny Schatz-952
3-Daryn Pittman-934
4-Logan Schuchart-930
5-Carson Macedo-926
6-Cory Eliason-916
7-Sheldon Haudenschild-910
8-Kerry Madsen
9-Parker Price-Miller
10-Tim Shaffer-886