Tuesday’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series trip to Bridgeport Motorsports Park did not disappoint.
With a nearly sold-out crowd at the Swedesboro, NJ track, plus the online allure of a midweek race on DIRTVision, two of the most fierce pilots in the industry went wheel-to-wheel and put on a top tier show at the 4/10-mile oval.
Officially, it looks like Sheldon Haudenschild controlled much of the race with 21 laps led to Kyle Larson’s four. However, the intensity goes so much further than what the brief analysis of the box score shows. The duo swapped command nearly 20 times in the final 15+ laps with the race-winning move happening in the midst of a dramatic final restart.
Ultimately, it was Haudenschild snapping a 15-race dry spell and taking the NOS Energy Drink, Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing #17 back to victory lane for the first time since Cotton Bowl (TX) Speedway on Friday, March 4. His third win of the 2022 season now ranks second-most (Macedo, 4 wins) and brings him to 25 career World of Outlaws wins at 28-years-old.
“It feels like we haven’t won in forever, man,” Haudenschild told Chase Raudman. “This is where this team belongs, up here in victory lane. [Kyle] Ripper, Stephen [Hamm-Reilly], and Jakob [Weaver] have been working their tails off, we’ve been close these last few months. This one feels good.
“Kyle [Larson] and I have had some pretty great races over the years. You know he comes in here and sometimes puts a whooping on us, so it always feels good to get one over on him. Really, though, all of our full-time guys out here on the Outlaw tour make it just as tough. Every single World of Outlaws win you can get is a special one.”
Now that the midweek mayhem is behind us, Haudenschild will lead The Greatest Show on Dirt to his home state for an Ohio doubleheader. He’ll be a favorite at both Attica Raceway Park on Friday and Sharon Speedway on Saturday, two tracks he dominated last year but lost the lead at late in the running.
Attracting a post-race crowd just as large as Haudenschild’s winning camp, Kyle Larson wasn’t short of fanfare following his second-straight runner-up result with the Series. He finished a nail-biting second-place to Spencer Bayston three weeks ago at Bristol (TN), and this time settled into P2 behind Haudenschild by 1.073-seconds at the checkered flag.
However, it was much closer than the final score says. The only caution of the race (Kasey Kahne, shredded right rear tire) flew on Lap 21 and restarted the race with four laps left in Larson’s hands. The Elk Grove, CA native elected to stay low in Paul Silva’s #57, a decision that opened the door for Haudenschild to go top shelf, build his momentum, and eventually drive around Larson on Lap 23.
The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion threw a series of haymakers at the #17 over the last two laps, but they all fell short as Haudenschild’s resiliency stood the test of Larson’s bravery.
“I definitely had a car capable of winning, but I didn’t do a good job executing that last restart and allowed Sheldon to get by,” Larson admitted. “Paul [Silva] got this thing better every time we hit the track, I just needed to make better decisions. I needed to move up after the caution, but I was too focused on protecting myself. I probably should have let him slide me and just started racing for it.”
Finishing out the podium on Tuesday was 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz. The Fargo, ND native earned his first pole position of the 2022 season but forfeited the lead on Lap 1 to a high-side hustling Haudenschild. He fell as far back as fourth before rallying to finish third aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing, Ford Performance, Carquest #15.
“I say it all the time but you have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run,” Schatz said after back-to-back top-five finishes. “We got going near the end and found something down low, and I think we could’ve got the #57 with a few more laps. The guys did a great job and we’re building some momentum with this thing.”
Closing out the top-five was a pair of Pennsylvanians with Hanover’s Logan Schuchart finishing fourth in the Shark Racing #1S, and Dillsburg’s Anthony Macri earning the KSE Hard Charger Award for a 14th-to-fifth run.
Rounding out the top-10 at Bridgeport was Australia’s James McFadden in the Roth Motorsports #83, California’s Rico Abreu in the Rowdy #24, Pennsylvania’s Jacob Allen in the Shark Racing #1A, Indiana’s Spencer Bayston in the CJB Motorsports #5, and Connecticut’s David Gravel in the Big Game Motorsports #2.
NOS NOTEBOOK (Bridgeport Speedway, 5/17/22)
Ironically enough, Sheldon Haudenschild‘s defeat of Kyle Larson brought the two drivers into a tie with each at 25 career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series wins, ranking 25th on the All-Time Wins List.
The Series completed its 20th race of the season on Tuesday with 21 different drivers leading laps this season, and impressively enough, not a single driver has cleared 100+ laps led to this point with the parity of the sport on full display.
To begin the night, Haudenschild circled the Bridgeport 4/10-mile in 14.852 seconds during My Place Hotels Qualifying, earning his first Slick Woody’s QuickTime Award of the year and 20th of his career.
NOS Energy Drink Heat Race wins were highlighted by Logan Schuchart (94th career), Donny Schatz (495th career), David Gravel (190th career), and Justin Whittall (1st career). The MicroLite Last Chance Showdown was won by Saturday’s big winner Brent Marks in the Murray-Marks #19.
Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender Spencer Bayston extended his Series-best streak of 11 consecutive top-10 finishes with a ninth-place finish aboard the CJB Motorsports, Signing Day Sports #5 in his first-ever trip to Bridgeport.
Current championship leader Brad Sweet finished 12th (average finish of 10.7 in five races) in the Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 as his points lead diminished down to +20 points over David Gravel & Big Game Motorsports.
Briggs Danner, a 20-year-old native of Allentown, PA, qualified for his first-career World of Outlaws Feature in his Series debut and ultimately ended up 16th.
UP NEXT (Fri-Sat) – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series travels to Ohio this weekend with appearances at Attica Raceway Park on Friday, May 20, and Sharon Speedway on Saturday, May 21. Fans can BUY TICKETS HERE, or watch every lap LIVE on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (25 Laps) – 1. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$10,000]; 2. 57-Kyle Larson [$6,000]; 3. 15-Donny Schatz [$3,500]; 4. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$2,800]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri [$2,500]; 6. 83-James McFadden [$2,300]; 7. 24-Rico Abreu [$2,200]; 8. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,100]; 9. 5-Spencer Bayston [$2,050]; 10. 2-David Gravel [$2,000]; 11. 91-Kyle Reinhardt [$1,600]; 12. 49-Brad Sweet [$1,400]; 13. 41-Carson Macedo [$1,200]; 14. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$1,100]; 15. 18-Giovanni Scelzi [$1,050]; 16. 5G-Briggs Danner [$1,000]; 17. 51-Freddie Rahmer [$1,000]; 18. 19-Brent Marks [$1,000]; 19. 67-Justin Whittall [$1,000]; 20. 6-Bill Rose [$1,000]; 21. 39-Christopher Bell [$1,000]; 22. 9-Kasey Kahne [$1,000]; 23. 5W-Lucas Wolfe [$1,000]; 24. 5R-Tyler Ross [$1,000]. Lap Leaders: Sheldon Haudenschild 1-15, 17-19, 23-25; Kyle Larson 16, 20-22. KSE Hard Charger Award: 39M-Anthony Macri[+9]
NEW Championship Standings (After 20/78 Races): 1. Brad Sweet (2,764); 2. David Gravel (-20); 3. Carson Macedo (-44); 4. Sheldon Haudenschild (-58); 5. Logan Schuchart (-86); 6. Spencer Bayston (-126); 7. Donny Schatz (-126); 8. James McFadden (-150); 9. Jacob Allen (-216); 10. Brock Zearfoss (-328).