The Breakdown: World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at Hartford Speedway
By: Tony Veneziano
HARTFORD, MI — July 24, 2017 — A new challenge awaits the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series at Hartford Speedway in Michigan on Friday, July 28, as the series takes to the recently re-configured track for the “Battle of Michigan.” The Outlaws have raced at Hartford seven times in the past on the former half-mile, with this trip marking the first on the now-three-eighths-mile. In those seven races, a different driver has visited victory lane each and every time. This edition of The Breakdown sets the stage for the “Battle of Michigan” at Hartford Speedway, which serves as the series only visit of the season to the state of Michigan.
Hartford Speedway is a three-eights-mile, which was re-configured in the off-season from its previous half-mile layout. The track record of 15.623-seconds was established by David Gravel on September 21, 2016 on the former half-mile configuration.
Shane Stewart won last season in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series first visit to Hartford Speedway in five seasons. The veteran driver took the lead at the start of the race from the outside of the front row and held off eight-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz for the victory.
Joey Saldana was victorious at Hartford Speedway in 2011. Dave Blaney, the 1995 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion won the series debut at the track in 1996, while three-time series titlist Sammy Swindell, also won that season at Hartford. Steve Kinser, the 20-time series champion, as well as two-time title winner Jason Meyers are also past winners at Hartford Speedway, along with Brian Paulus.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series has 15 card-carrying members this year, led by Schatz. Brad Sweet is currently second in points, with David Gravel in third. Daryn Pittman recently moved back into the fourth position, with Shane Stewart rounding out the top-five. Jason Johnson currently is sixth in the standings, with rookie Sheldon Haudenschild seventh, Kraig Kinser eighth, Jason Sides ninth and Logan Schuchart 10th.
Also on the road again this year are veteran drivers Paul McMahan and Greg Wilson, as well as young drivers Jacob Allen and Clyde Knipp. Brent Marks is also contending for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award this season.
Paul McMahan has made seven starts at Hartford Speedway with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, racking up five top-10 finishes in the process. Jason Sides has made five starts at the track. Donny Schatz, while still looking for his first win at Hartford, has four top-five finishes in the same number of starts. Daryn Pittman has also made four starts at the track, picking up three top-10 finishes.
Plenty of starts
Kraig Kinser has made the most starts of any current full-time World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series driver at Hartford Speedway. In addition to his four appearances with the Outlaws at the track, the third-generation driver has also raced at Hartford with the Bumper to Bumper Interstate Racing Association (IRA), the Gumout Series and the Great Lakes Outlaw Sprint Series (GLOSS). He finished a career-best second at the track in 2002 with the IRA.
Brad Sweet made his first start at Hartford Speedway last season, finishing sixth. Jason Johnson and Greg Wilson also made their first Outlaws start at the track, after each had raced earlier in their careers at the track with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.
The next generation
A group of young drivers is leading the next wave of World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series competitors. Leading the way is Connecticut native David Gravel, who is third in points and has a career-high 10 wins already this season. Gravel has made two starts at Hartford Speedway in his young career, finishing sixth in 2011, while he was fourth last year. He was fastest in time trials last year at the track to set a new track record on the former half-mile configuration.
The Shark Racing team of Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen are on the road again this season, as is teenager Clyde Knipp. Schuchart has three wins and is among the top-10 in the standings. Each of the three made their first visit to Hartford Speedway last year.
Brent Marks, and Sheldon Haudenschild will each be making their first appearance with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at Hartford Speedway. Haudenschild, though, has raced with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions at the track in the past, including winning last year at Hartford with that series. Marks, who cut his teeth racing in Central Pennsylvania will be making his first trip to the state of Michigan.
One of the “invaders” expected for the “Battle of Michigan” is Brady Bacon.
Bacon is in the midst of his first season driving for the Bacon-Marshall Racing team, which he co-owns with Richard Marshall. The Oklahoma native, who now calls Winchester, Indiana home, is the reigning Amsoil USAC National Sprint Car Series champion.
Hunter Schuerenberg is also expected to make the trip north to Hartford Speedway. The versatile driver has been running a combination of winged and non-wing sprint car races this season. Schuerenberg picked up an Amsoil USAC National Sprint Car Series win in Florida back in February.
A handful of drivers hailing from the state of Michigan, who have competed already this season at the re-configured Hartford Speedway, are also expected.
Tickets for the “Battle of Michigan,” featuring the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at Hartford Speedway in Hartford, Michigan on Friday, July 28 and can be purchased online or by calling SLS Promotions at 815-344-2023, and at the track on race day.