Not many guarantees exist in the sport of Sprint Car racing. But Brad Sweet’s speed in Wisconsin is about as close to a lock as you can get.

On Friday night at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, WI, the four-time and defending champion flexed his Badger State muscle yet again. Sweet took the lead early from Logan Schuchart and held on as the Shark Racing driver made one final run at him in the closing laps.

Sweet’s résumé in Wisconsin continues to grow to astonishing levels. He’s now up to a dozen World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car victories in the northern state. Friday was his seventh triumph in only 20 starts at Cedar Lake in Series competition – equaling him with Sammy Swindell for the most all time.

The Kasey Kahne Racing pilot upped his career win total with The Greatest Show on Dirt to 85 – giving him sole possession of 10th all-time and within one of former teammate – Daryn Pittman – for ninth on the list. He’s now at six victories in 2023 alone, already one more than his 2022 total.

“Seven wins here, that’s pretty special,” said a grateful Sweet. “The NAPA Auto Parts guys always bring me a good race car, and this track fits my style. Just happy to get a win. We haven’t won in a little bit, so it’s nice to get back here and get some confidence. Just a nice night for the guys.”

Sweet’s path to Victory Lane began from the outside pole position. On the race’s initial start, pole-sitter Logan Schuchart jumped out to an early advantage. But Sweet never let him get far ahead.

“The Big Cat” moved his machine all over the 3/8-mile surface in search of a route by the Shark Racing #1S. On lap six, Sweet built momentum on the exit of Turn 2 and found the opportunity he needed. As the lead duo roared down the back straightaway, Sweet dipped to Schuchart’s inside and finished a slide job in Turns 3 and 4.

From there, Sweet began to pad his advantage and survive a handful of restarts as a few cautions plagued the race’s opening portion.

On a restart with 21 laps to go, Sweet was forced to face a challenge as third-running Rico Abreu aced the restart and surged into second as they accelerated down the front straightaway. Then in Turn 1, Abreu tossed a slider at Sweet and cleared him. Sweet returned the favor in the next set of corners. Abreu attempted to drive below him on the next lap in Turn 3 but didn’t have enough momentum.

Shortly after the fight for the lead, Abreu’s right rear tire went down and took him out of contention.

Without Abreu behind him, Sweet appeared as if he may cruise away to the victory. But as the race dipped inside 10 laps to go, Sweet found himself unable to make his way through lapped traffic as quick as he had early in the race. The Grass Valley, CA native searched for lines to move by slower cars but didn’t have much luck.

“This place changes a lot,” Sweet explained. “It can go from the bottom to the top back to the bottom. It can even get a little bit clean into (Turn) 3 there. You can judge yourself off the lapped cars, and the fact that Kraig (Kinser) was running back by me was making me not feel very good about what I was doing. When I tried to run the bottom, I wasn’t patient enough or just wasn’t good enough to stick down there.”

Brad Sweet racing Logan Schuchart at Cedar Lake
Brad Sweet held off a fast-closing Logan Schuchart late at Cedar Lake (Trent Gower Photo)

Sweet’s struggles allowed Schuchart to close quickly as the laps clicked away. As they came to the white flag, Schuchart looked to Sweet’s inside to let him know he was there. On the final circuit Sweet protected enough to hold him off and cross the finish line with less than two tenths of a second over Schuchart.

“You know when you’re struggling to get by lapped cars that they’re coming behind you,” Sweet said. “I just tried to keep my calm as best I could and make the best last lap I could. I think it was just good enough. I could hear him off my left rear (tire).”

Schuchart’s runner up was his seventh of the 2023 World of Outlaws campaign and his second in the last three starts. While the Hanover, PA native came away encouraged by the strong outing, he couldn’t help but wish he had a few more laps to try and get the job done.

“I kind of had the Jaws theme song in the back of my head, but it was like when they just get out of the water just in time is what it felt like,” Schuchart said with a laugh. “We were good. We were right there. This is where we got our first win, so this place is very meaningful and special.”

Rounding out the podium was David Gravel, who charged forward from sixth. The result marked his seventh podium in the last eight races aboard the Big Game Motorsports #2. The Watertown, CT native surged into second at one point but couldn’t quite hold on to the runner up spot. It was an up and down race for Gravel, but he kept his spirits high after yet another strong outing.

“This place is tricky,” Gravel said. “It gets spinny. They water the track, and it has a little bit of artificial grip to start the race. We just weren’t good early. I had a couple good things. Rico got a flat and let us get to third there and race a little bit. I found the bottom before everybody else, but it just wasn’t able to pay off.”

Finishing fourth was Sheldon Haudenschild – who made an early visit to the Federated Car Care Work Zone before charging back to the front. Completing the top five was the night’s KSE Hard Charger – Spencer Bayston – who wheeled the CJB Motorsports #5 all the way from 22nd to fifth.

Sweet’s win allowed him to add six points over Gravel in the championship battle. The margin sits at 16 markers.

Bill Balog claimed his first ever Simpson Performance Products QuickTime in Low-E Insulation Qualifying.

CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One also went to Balog (sixth Heat Race win of career). NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Four were topped by Brad Sweet (224th of career), Gio Scelzi (30th of career), and David Gravel (228th of career).

The Smith Titanium Brake Systems “Break of the Race” went to Bill Rose. After earning his best Feature starting spot of the year (16th), Rose was caught up in an incident that ended his night early.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars are right back at Cedar Lake Speedway for the Independence Day Spectacular finale on Saturday, July 1. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action on DIRTVision.

RESULTS:

NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps): 1. 49-Brad Sweet[2]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart[1]; 3. 2-David Gravel[6]; 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[9]; 5. 5-Spencer Bayston[22]; 6. 83-James McFadden[13]; 7. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[7]; 8. 17B-Bill Balog[5]; 9. 41-Carson Macedo[10]; 10. 1A-Jacob Allen[21]; 11. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[11]; 12. 24-Rico Abreu[4]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[18]; 14. 15-Donny Schatz[14]; 15. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[3]; 16. 7-Brooke Tatnell[19]; 17. 22-Riley Goodno[20]; 18. 20G-Noah Gass[15]; 19. 34DD-Kraig Kinser[24]; 20. (DNF) 49J-Josh Schneiderman[23]; 21. (DNF) 7S-Robbie Price[8]; 22. (DNF) 83JR-Michael Kofoid[17]; 23. (DNF) 5T-Ryan Timms[12]; 24. (DNF) 6-Bill Rose[16]