The sixth different winner in six races at Skagit Speedway brought us a new champion of the Sage Fruit Skagit Nationals on Saturday night.
Leading all 35 laps, David Gravel outlasted Brad Sweet and Spencer Bayston in a torrid run through lap traffic to cash the $26,000 check in front of a packed house at the Alger, WA facility. The victory not only cut his championship deficit down to -76 points but also delivered a milestone moment for Gravel as he collected his 75th career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win.
Only reading the box score would be a bit misleading as Bayston for the first 28 laps and Sweet for the final seven never let Gravel gain an edge over the competition. After the only restart of the race on Lap 6, the lead trio never let each other out of sight and saved the best for last when they nearly went side-by-side for the lead at the white flag lap.
Ultimately, Gravel survived the challenges of both competitors and held on to win by 0.242-seconds at the stripe. It’s his third win at Washington’s Skagit Speedway and his sixth World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win of the season aboard the Big Game Motorsports, Huset’s Speedway, Billion Automotive #2.
“I saw his right front at the white flag so I knew he was close,” Gravel said on the final lap. “He got halfway underneath me, but I was always really comfortable on the bottom of turns 1&2, so I felt fine. You try to be somewhat conservative so you can step it up if you need to like that. The track changed quite a bit and the car changed with it, so shoutout to my guys Cody [Jacobs], Trey [Bowman], and Zach [Patterson]. It feels great to get another big win.”
Falling short at the checkered flag with his ninth runner-up result of 2022 was championship leader Brad Sweet in the Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49.”The Big Cat” rallied by Bayston and made his way to Gravel for the win, but struggled to complete the pass in the closing laps as he chased his fifth win of the year. He’ll now put on the business cap as he promotes and competes in next week’s Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, CA.
“It was close,” Sweet said with a smirk. “I got under him off turn four, but I just needed to be a bit more forward on him. I saw the white and I knew he would try to get down on me. It was good, hard racing, though. I got by Spencer and knew I could pace David, but it was about waiting for the right opportunity. He did a great job of moving around a lot and I struggled to time that. It hurts a bit, I definitely think we had a car capable of winning, but happy to leave here with three top-fives.”
After hounding Gravel all throughout the opening half of the race, Spencer Bayston slipped back to finish third and complete an impressive turnaround on the weekend. It’s the first podium for the leading Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender since they last won at Huset’s (ND) Speedway in June. Now the Lebanon, IN native turns attention to his Gold Cup Race of Champions debut in the CJB Motorsports, TrueTimber, Signing Day Sports #5.
“That’s a win in our books right now,” Bayston said in his return to the podium. “I’m so proud of Barry [Jackson], Scott [Vogelsong], and Hayden [Lloyd]. A lot of work has gone into getting me more and more comfortable. There are just certain things that I feel I need as a rookie to carry me and the car, and I think we’re getting back there. It feels awesome to be back on a podium and contending for wins again.”
James McFadden, who was a winning contender that was dealt heartbreak on Thursday and Friday, wrapped up his challenging weekend at Skagit with a fourth-place finish in the Roth Motorsports #83. He was followed by Robbie Price, of Cobble Hill, British Columbia, who drove the Jason Sides #7S to his second-career top-five finish in as many weeks.
Closing out the top-10 on Saturday night was Sheldon Haudenschild in the Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing #17, Carson Macedo in the Jason Johnson Racing #41, Donny Schatz in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15, Brock Zearfoss in the Brock Zearfoss Racing #3Z, and Jacob Allen in the Shark Racing #1A.
UP NEXT (Mon) – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will take Sunday off before resuming racing on Monday, September 5 with a Labor Day Spectacular at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, WA. Fans can BUY TICKETS HERE, or watch every lap LIVE on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (35 Laps) – 1. 2-David Gravel [$26,000]; 2. 49-Brad Sweet [$8,000]; 3. 5-Spencer Bayston [$4,000]; 4. 83-James McFadden [$3,000]; 5. 7S-Robbie Price [$2,500]; 6. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$2,300]; 7. 41-Carson Macedo [$2,200]; 8. 15-Donny Schatz [$2,100]; 9. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$2,050]; 10. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,000]; 11. 18T-Tanner Holmes [$1,600]; 12. 14-Corey Day [$1,400]; 13. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$1,200]; 14. 17S-JJ Hickle [$1,100]; 15. 55-Trey Starks [$1,050]; 16. 83JR-Kerry Madsen [$1,000]; 17. 41S-Dominic Scelzi [$1,000]; 18. 5T-Ryan Timms [$1,000]; 19. 21S-Jesse Schlotfeldt [$1,000]; 20. 46JR-Joel Myers [$1,000]; 21. 96-Greg Hamilton [$1,000]; 22. 2L-Logan Forler [$1,000]; 23. 18-Jason Solwold [$1,000]; 24. 21-Mitchell Faccinto [$1,000]. Lap Leaders: David Gravel 1-35. KSE Hard Charger Award: 1S-Logan Schuchart[+8].
NEW Championship Standings (55/72 Races) – 1. Brad Sweet (7,414); 2. David Gravel (-76); 3. Carson Macedo (-106); 4. Sheldon Haudenschild (-168); 5. Donny Schatz (-206); 6. Logan Schuchart (-274); 7. James McFadden (-462); 8. Spencer Bayston (-470); 9. Jacob Allen (-654); 10. Brock Zearfoss (-794).