The race appeared to be over. Brad Sweet had led from the drop of the green flag at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday night with a comfortable advantage. But as the white flag waved on the Morgan Cup, the Jaws music began to play.
Logan Schuchart spent the entire race in pursuit. Scratching and clawing his way by lapped cars but unable to keep up with Sweet. And then suddenly, hope arose. Schuchart went from 2.2 seconds behind with three laps to go to 1.2 behind as they began the final lap. Down the back straightaway he charged with a head of steam aboard the Shark Racing #1S. As they exited the final corner, Schuchart used a massive run to dip under Sweet and steal the win by only eight one hundredths of a second.
The Pennsylvania crowd erupted. Fans looked at each other as if seeking confirmation for what they’d witnessed. Surely Schuchart couldn’t have pulled that off. But he did. He erased a more than two second gap in only three laps. Even Schuchart himself could hardly believe it.
“Man, I really didn’t think I had a shot, either,” Schuchart admitted. “I just ran the top the whole race running the same line as Brad. When we did get to some lapped cars there, they were just in both lines. I took way too long to get by them. Brad just got way out there. He was running a consistent race. I knew we felt pretty good, and I felt that our car was going to come in later.
“The closer it got those last couple laps, I think I looked up around Lap 20, and I thought I’d move the wing back and try to move around the racetrack to see if I could find anything. I was able to get by Kasey (Kahne) there and slowly started moving in on Brad and really gained on him the last couple laps there. I knew he was probably going to be conservative and block the bottom… When he moved down, I thought I’m just going to run the top and with my wing trunked I thought I’m going to have to keep the car as loose as possible and try and spring off the exit and try to get down the straightaway good. And that’s what we were able to do.”
Schuchart’s 38th career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car victory was his first at Williams Grove in his 57th attempt at the historic half mile. The Hanover, PA native became the 52nd different driver to win a race with The Greatest Show on Dirt at the tricky oval. The 30-year-old is up to a trio of World of Outlaws triumphs this year plus his Eldora Million victory.
And while he may hail from Pennsylvania, the win in the dual Morgan Cup finale/Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals opener was one for the Outlaws as the 10-year Series veteran snatched the Cup from the PA Posse and banked $15,000. Regardless of his driving allegiance, Schuchart was full of excitement to stand in Victory Lane in front of the fans who’ve cheered him on from his earliest days.
“This one hits close to my heart,” Schuchart said. “This is really cool to win in front of our PA fans. If you would’ve told me 10 years ago it was going to take me 10 years to win an Outlaw race at one of my home tracks, I would’ve been pretty disappointed. I can’t thank all of the fans enough. Always a bunch of support after the races here no matter if we run 15th or whatever.”
The early portion of the race was controlled by Sweet. After topping the Toyota Racing Dash, he wheeled the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 ahead in the early circuits.
No cautions interrupted the flow of the race, and even when faced by thick traffic as they approached halfway, Sweet didn’t falter. The four-time and reigning champion sliced expertly through slower cars.
What hurt Sweet in the closing laps was a lost wheel cover, causing mud to fill his right-rear wheel and making the car difficult to handle. Sweet’s misfortune was Schuchart’s gain as he closed in and made the thrilling last-second pass.
For Schuchart, the moment served as a testament of the importance of giving your all until the race is over.
“It doesn’t matter what position you’re in. Until that checkered flag falls, you give it 110%,” Schuchart said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s racing, football, any sport, or life in general, you’ve got to give it 110% every chance you get because you never know. I’m just very thankful to do this with my team and get this opportunity night in and night out.”
Sweet’s runner-up result gave him back-to-back second place efforts and four runner-ups in the last six races. “The Big Cat” is up to 19 World of Outlaws podiums this season. No driver will be happy with losing a win of the final lap, but Sweet’s silver lining came in the form of regaining the point lead as he now sits 12 markers ahead of David Gravel, who finished 11th. For Sweet, the missing wheel cover was too much to overcome.
“Somehow the wheel got packed full of mud, and I honestly just barely made it around the last lap,” Sweet explained. “I tried to just go to the bottom there. I didn’t think I should go to the outside. I just really couldn’t see it was shaking so bad. I couldn’t get any traction coming to the line. I knew I was in trouble if anyone was close. I tried to limp it around and just wasn’t good enough.”
Rico Abreu stayed toward the front for the duration of the race after starting fourth and brought the #24 home third. It marked another consistent run for the St. Helena, CA native who is having a career year behind the wheel. The result put him at 10 World of Outlaws podiums for the year. He’s only the fourth driver to reach that mark this season and the only one among non-full-time drivers.
“We were just really consistent throughout the whole race night,” Abreu said. “Our balance is really good. We’ve been really good here. Getting from sixth to fourth there in the Dash was pretty important for us and beating Carson (Macedo) on the start into Turn 1… I could see Brad’s car shaking there when he was ahead of us. Logan and him and I just got to racing when the pace slowed down, and I thought we would’ve been able to stick our nose in there and break some momentum, but it was just a little bit too late.”
Macedo also picked up the night’s Simpson Performance Products QuickTime Award – his Series best 12th of the season and the 31st of his career.
For the second straight night, Danny Dietrich was the KSE Racing Hard Charger. The Gettysburg, PA native drove the Gary Kauffman #48 from 15th to seventh.
CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One went to Carson Macedo (108th Heat Race win of career). NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Four were topped by Logan Schuchart (114th of career), Gio Scelzi (31st of career), and Cory Eliason (19th of career).
Spencer Bayston won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.
The Smith Titanium Brake Systems “Break of the Race” went to Justin Peck after an issue on the final lap ended a sure top 10 run and dropped him to a 21st place finish.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps): 1. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 2. 49-Brad Sweet; 3. 24-Rico Abreu; 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 5. 41-Carson Macedo; 6. 19-Brent Marks; 7. 48-Danny Dietrich; 8. 11-Cory Eliason; 9. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 10. 8-Freddie Rahmer; 11. 2-David Gravel; 12. 27-Troy Wagaman Jr; 13. 69K-Lance Dewease; 14. 23-Devon Borden; 15. 15-Donny Schatz; 16. 5-Spencer Bayston; 17. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 18. 44-Dylan Norris; 19. 83-James McFadden; 20. 67-Justin Whittall; 21. 13-Justin Peck; 22. 11T-TJ Stutts; 23. 9-Kasey Kahne; 24. 1A-Jacob Allen; 25. 99M-Kyle Moody; 26. 12-Billy Dietrich