The “Rour for 4” is complete and now the “Drive for 5” is on for Brad Sweet and Kasey Kahne Racing.
After announcing a multi-year extension to keep loyal partner NAPA Auto Parts on the #49, the four-time and reigning World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champions announced today their intentions to return full-time in pursuit of a fifth consecutive title with The Greatest Show on Dirt in 2023.
Already establishing himself as a future Hall of Famer, Sweet’s fourth championship last year gives him the third most in the 45-year history of the World of Outlaws – trailing only Steve Kinser (20) and Donny Schatz (10). The longest streak of consecutive championships is six-straight by Kinser from 1983-88, an iconic feat that Sweet is still determined to reach by the end of 2024.
“Winning at the highest level of Sprint Car Racing is something you don’t take for granted, and I think our consistent drive for more success and passion to be better is what has made our Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 team so strong over the years,” Sweet lamented on his successes. “You’re never perfect out here on the road, so there are always improvements to be made and we are always chasing those. I think last year was kind of statistically, if you will, our worst championship in a way. Winning only five races was strange, especially after winning 16 before that, so there’s a big chip on our shoulder coming back this year.”
Although his numbers at the top dropped in 2022, the 37-year-old native of Grass Valley, CA remained as consistent as ever as he outdueled championship competitors David Gravel, Carson Macedo, Donny Schatz, Sheldon Haudenschild, Logan Schuchart, and more. For the second time in four years, the title hunt came down to the final race of the season but yet again, the #49 withstood the pressure and thrived when they needed it most.
As a 2018 Knoxville Nationals champion and two-time Kings Royal winner, Sweet’s successes – and struggles – on the biggest stages in the sport have prepared him for all of the ups and downs of a grueling World of Outlaws campaign. Entering his 10th year on tour in 2023, The Big Cat joins an elite group of veterans who have been traveling down the road for more than a decade-plus and that experience is one of his biggest advantages.
“Experience is the single greatest asset you can have as a Sprint Car driver,” Sweet added. “You saw it with Donny [Schatz] and so many other eventual stars, this is a process and it takes time but if you put in the work, it pays off in the end. Your mindset really changes over the years as we learn more and more and that has been a tool I’ve put to use battling for championships. I try not to think about the points until maybe September. To me, if I’m winning, I’m doing my job and the rest will take care of itself.”
Entering this year, Sweet’s career numbers with the World of Outlaws read as follows – 793 starts, 79 wins, 257 podiums, 406 top fives, 610 top 10s, 2,446 laps led, 69 Quick Times, and 216 Heat wins. He’s currently five away from tying Stevie Smith for 10th on the All-Time Win List, which would give us a new member of the top-10 for the first time since his former KKR teammate Daryn Pittman surpassed Jac Haudenschild in 2018.
After building a dynasty with the same three core crew members since 2019, the mold of the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 team will look slightly different in 2023 following the departure of car chief Joe Mooney – who took over the crew chief role for Pennsylvania’s Anthony Macri.
Eric Prutzman – a disciple of the legendary Ricky Warner – will remain as Sweet’s crew chief and Ohio-native Andrew Bowman is back for his sixth season as Tire Specialist, but they’ll welcome a new Car Chief in Tye Wolfgang – transitioning in-house from Kasey Kahne’s #9 team.
“I think our camaraderie, you know having the same group of guys for so long, has played a large part in our success,” Sweet noted. “It will obviously be a little bit different with Joe moving on, but he’s got a really great opportunity to further his career and we’re all thrilled for him. Luckily, Tye isn’t a stranger to our operation at all coming over from Kasey’s team, so hopefully we can all get acquainted with each other and hit the ground running.”
Sweet’s 10th full-time season on the World of Outlaws tour officially begins with the season-opening Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park on February 9-11. At 64 appearances, “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” is his third third-most visited track and home to more of his wins (6) than any other on tour. He’s already one of three drivers to earn the Big Gator Championship twice, but now has aspirations of becoming the first to do so on three occasions in Barberville, FL.
The Kasey Kahne Racing #49 will continue to use Cappetta Engines and Maxim Chassis, and will be supported by NAPA Auto Parts, Karavan Trailers, FuelMe, Curb Records, ASE Certifications, Kahne Screen Print, Aerodine, AL Driveline, ATL, Brown and Miller, Cometic Gaskets, C & R Racing, Debeer Paint, Durst, Donovan Engines, Engler Machine, FK Rod Ends, FK Shocks, Godfrey Engines, HMS Motorsports, Kaedings Performance, KSE Racing Products, K1, Racing Optics, RPM Chassis, Shadow Graphics, Schoenfeld Headers, Smith Titanium, Weld Wheels, Wing Dynamics, Winters Performance, and WIX Filters.