A little luck never hurts, especially in Sprint Car Racing.

Sheldon Haudenschild appeared poised for a third straight US 36 Raceway victory on Friday night. He’d taken the lead early and sliced through plenty of traffic as he led the opening 20 circuits. But an incident with a lapped car left him spun between Turns 1 and 2 and ended his hopes of a three-peat at the 3/8-mile.

The biggest beneficiary to Haudenschild’s troubles? David Gravel. The Watertown, CT native had clawed his way from fourth to second in the Big Game Motorsports #2. When Haudenschild spun, the gift of the lead fell into Gravel’s lap.

After inheriting the top spot, Gravel never looked back on his way to his second World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car win of 2024. Last year Gravel’s visit to US 36 resulted in a DNF. This year it resulted in redemption.

“I was just kind of searching around racing with those guys, and we were able to get to third and then get to second,” Gravel said. “And then Sheldon got into the lapped car there, but I felt like we were right there and could pace him well. I liked my chances. I wish we got to race it out. But the guys gave me a really good car.”

The triumph marked Gravel’s 90th with The Greatest Show on Dirt, making him only the 10th driver to reach 90. US 36 Raceway became the 46th different track he’s won at in World of Outlaws competition. Gravel’s car owner – Tod Quiring – is up to 96 Series victories as he gets closer to making Big Game Motorsports only the sixth team in Series history with triple digit wins.

An all-NOS Energy Drink front row consisting of Tyler Courtney and Sheldon Haudenschild led the field to green for the 35-lap finale. “Sunshine” jumped ahead on the initial start, but a crash on the front straightaway before the lap was complete caused a complete restart.

The opening lap not being finished before the red flag was Gravel’s first piece of good fortune in the Feature. He had slipped all the way to seventh from the second row on the first lap, but the wreck gave him a second chance at a strong start – a chance he took advantage of.

“That first start was really bad, and I fell back to seventh,” Gravel explained. “Luckily, there was a red right before everybody crossed the start finish line or I definitely wouldn’t have won this race here tonight. Luckily, we were able to get a redo there.”

On the full restart Haudenschild got the advantage on the outside and led the first lap. As they clicked off the early laps Haudenschild committed to the cushion while Courtney stayed low. Courtney closed on Haudenschild and nearly took the top spot out of Turn 4 on Lap 7, but Haudenschild moved low to protect and began to pad his lead.

Behind the lead duo Gravel found some grip in the center of Turns 1 and 2 and used it to drive around James McFadden for third on Lap 9. Only six laps later Gravel drove around Courtney to climb into the runner-up spot. Behind Gravel a charging Donny Schatz followed Gravel’s path to the front as Schatz moved into third on Lap 17 after starting seventh.

David Gravel driving the Big Game Motorsports #2 at US 36 Raceway
On Friday at US 36 David Gravel picked up his second win of the season and 90th of his career (Trent Gower Photo)

Only six laps after Gravel took second was when Haudenschild came together with the lapped car of Chris Windom in Turns 1 and 2. The resulting spin dropped him from contention and left nose damage on the NOS Energy Drink 17.

The incident handed the lead right over to Gravel who planned to take full advantage.

Gravel drove away early on the following restart. A handful of cautions interrupted Gravel’s progress toward the ceckered flag, but he still mastered each restart as he left Schatz no openings to make a move.

Schatz closed a couple times as the two navigated traffic, but he could never near Gravel enough to truly challenge. Gravel took off on one last restart with four laps to go and held on to win by just north of one second.

Gravel has collected three straight podiums as he continues to build momentum in search of his first World of Outlaws title. The win allowed him to slightly extend his point lead to 22 markers ahead of Schatz. He’s locked in and ready for that title and the results show.

“It’s been a good year,” Gravel said. “We stubbed our toe one night, but other than that I feel like we’ve been on our game. Donny has been running strong, too, so I know it’s going to be a battle all year long.”

Schatz brought the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing #15 home second for his fourth podium in the last six races as the 10-time champion continues to get hot early. Schatz felt that a late wreck that took the leaders out of lapped traffic and caused an open red hurt his chances of winning.

“My guys did a great job,” Schatz said. “I felt like we were coming there in traffic, and that momentum kind of went away on the open red. We had to make an adjustment. That’s what you have to do. You have to go for it. We went for it, and it helped me in one corner and hurt me in the other.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid completed the top three at US 36. The result marked the Roth Motorsports driver’s best result of the season. Kofoid has now pieced together five consecutive top 10 finishes including top fives in the last two. The Penngrove, CA driver credited a pivotal restart for helping him secure the podium.

“I knew we were restarting sixth and I finally had the outside,” Kofoid said. “I was thinking if I could snooker a couple guys there we should be good because I could carry so much speed into (Turn) 1 and almost slide through the center and if somebody was on the outside or inside, kind of shoot the gap and do that most of the race.”

James McFadden and Tyler Courtney completed the top five.

A huge 24th to sixth run gave Chase Randall the night’s KSE Hard Charger aboard the TKS Motorsports #2KS.

Buddy Kofoid earned Simpson Quick Time honors.

NOS Energy Drink Heats One, Three, and Four belonged to Buddy Kofoid, Tyler Courtney, and Rico Abreu. Milton Hershey School Heat Two went to Sheldon Haudenschild.

Anthony Macri won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Dirink Sprint Cars debut at Arrowhead Speedway on Saturday, April 6 for the $20,000-to-win Jason Johnson Classic. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.

FEATURE RESULTS:

NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps): 1. 2-David Gravel[3]; 2. 15-Donny Schatz[7]; 3. 83-Michael Kofoid[5]; 4. 83SR-James McFadden[4]; 5. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[1]; 6. 2KS-Chase Randall[24]; 7. 41-Carson Macedo[6]; 8. 1S-Logan Schuchart[12]; 9. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[25]; 10. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[11]; 11. 8-Cory Eliason[19]; 12. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[2]; 13. 39M-Anthony Macri[21]; 14. 55-Chris Windom[13]; 15. 17B-Bill Balog[22]; 16. 41S-Dominic Scelzi[23]; 17. 23-Garet Williamson[14]; 18. 88-Austin McCarl[10]; 19. 18T-Tanner Holmes[18]; 20. 45X-Jace Park[20]; 21. 70-Kraig Kinser[26]; 22. 7S-Landon Crawley[17]; 23. 5T-Ryan Timms[9]; 24. 24-Rico Abreu[8]; 25. 1A-Jacob Allen[15]; 26. 26-Zeb Wise[16]

For full results, CLICK HERE.