With only 10 races remaining in the 2022 campaign ahead of Saturday’s stop at Sharon Speedway, “The Big Cat” chose a fine time to step up and deliver what was arguably his biggest statement of the year.
The Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 team led all 35 laps in dominant fashion, running away with a 3.4-second margin of victory over Donny Schatz and Sheldon Haudenschild in an unchallenged romp at the Hartford, OH venue.
Bringing his total to five Series wins this year, the Grass Valley, CA native now leads David Gravel and Carson Macedo by 96 points with another nine races left on the docket. It’s clear now that Sweet controls his own destiny in the chase for a $200,000 championship payday with his fourth consecutive title.
“First things first, hats off to my crew,” Sweet said after his 79th career World of Outlaws win. “They gave me a great race car tonight. I would’ve said you’re crazy if you told me I would win pounding the boards tonight, but here we are. That is more Sheldon’s style, but this NAPA #49 took off so well up there. We weren’t great in the Dash and rolled the dice before the Feature, and thankfully, it paid off. I’m glad I could get us back in Victory Lane. We’ve had a rough year in the win column, so this one feels extra good.”
Running in the second spot for the entirety of Saturday’s 35-lapper was Donny Schatz, who earned his sixth runner-up result of the year in his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing, Ford Performance, Carquest Auto Parts #15. The 10-time Series champion was poised to lead the initial green flag from the pole position, but a caution negated his jump and allowed Sweet to pounce the next time.
“I don’t know that we were missing anything tonight,” Schatz said. “It was a great car, but Brad got up there first and I was too focused on trying to make the middle work to try and get him somehow. I really didn’t think it would go to the top like that. My guys put a new car together before yesterday and we’re off to a strong start with this one.”
Rounding out the podium at Sharon was Sheldon Haudenschild in the Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink #17. It was a strong rebound for the Wooster, OH native following a rough Friday night at Eldora Speedway which ended with a DNF following three on-track incidents.
“[Kyle] Ripper worked on it before we rolled out and we got better, but just didn’t have enough tonight,” Haudenschild said. “They moved those tires out quite a bit on this track and it made things a lot more difficult. You know the #15 and #49 are not going to make very many mistakes ahead of you. After the rough night we had yesterday, though, it feels great to rebound and put these guys back on the podium.”
Closing out the top-five on Saturday at Sharon was David Gravel with a fourth-place finish in the Big Game Motorsports, Huset’s Speedway #2, and James McFadden coming home fifth in the Roth Motorsports, Toyota Racing Development #83.
Jacob Allen extended his career-best streak to 13 consecutive top-10 finishes with another sixth-place run aboard the Shark Racing #1A. Rounding out the top-10 behind him was leading rookie contender Spencer Bayston, sophomore runner Brock Zearfoss, Hard Charger Logan Schuchart, and Lee Jacobs, of Dalton, OH, with his fourth-career World of Outlaws top-10.
NOS NOTEBOOK (Sharon Speedway, 9/24/22)
Brad Sweet’s 79th career World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory brings him to within five of tying Stevie Smith (84 wins) for 10th on the All-Time Win List. He also joined Carson Macedo (11), Sheldon Haudenschild (9), David Gravel (6), and Brent Marks (5) as the fifth five-time winner this year with the Series.
A 2012 Lou Blaney Memorial winner at the Hartford, OH 3/8-mile, Saturday’s win officially makes Sharon Speedway the 44th different track that Brad Sweet has conquered throughout his World of Outlaws career.
Sheldon Haudenschild opened the evening by pacing My Place Hotels Qualifying at 13.349 seconds, strong enough to earn his fifth QuickTime Award of the year and the 24th of his World of Outlaws career.
Taking NOS Energy Drink Heat Race wins was Sheldon Haudenschild (81st career), David Gravel (204th career), James McFadden (33rd career), and Donny Schatz (505th career). Schatz followed that with a DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash victory to make it four pole positions this season.
Logan Schuchart topped the MicroLite Last Chance Showdown and promptly earned the KSE Hard Charger Award by driving the Shark Racing #1S from 21st-to-ninth in the 35-lapper Feature.
More than half of Saturday’s 35-car field – 18 drivers, to be exact – made their season debut with the World of Outlaws at Sharon Speedway. The best finisher among that group was “The Lowrider” Dale Blaney, who ended a three-year absence from the Series with a 13th-place result in brother Dave Blaney’s second #10B entry.
UP NEXT (Fri-Sat) – Next week, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returns to “The Keystone State” for the most prestigious event in Pennsylvania. Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA is set to host the 60th Champion Racing Oil National Open on Friday and Saturday, offering a $75,000 top prize to this year’s winner of the famed Outlaws vs. Posse battle. Fans can BUY TICKETS HERE, or watch every lap LIVE on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature Results (35 Laps) – 1. 49-Brad Sweet [$10,000]; 2. 15-Donny Schatz [$6,000]; 3. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$3,500]; 4. 2-David Gravel [$2,800]; 5. 83-James McFadden [$2,500]; 6. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,300]; 7. 5-Spencer Bayston [$2,200]; 8. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$2,100]; 9. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$2,050]; 10. 81-Lee Jacobs [$2,000]; 11. 10-Dave Blaney [$1,600]; 12. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$1,400]; 13. 10B-Dale Blaney [$1,200]; 14. 22-Brandon Spithaler [$1,100]; 15. 40-George Hobaugh [$1,050]; 16. 2F-AJ Flick [$1,000]; 17. 7S-Robbie Price [$1,000]; 18. 46-Michael Bauer [$1,000]; 19. 6-Bob Felmlee [$1,000]; 20. 1M-Landon Myers [$1,000]; 21. 20G-Noah Gass [$1,000]; 22. 41-Carson Macedo [$1,000]; 23. 29M-Logan McCandless [$1,000]; 24. 11-Carl Bowser [$1,000]. Lap Leaders: Brad Sweet 1-35. KSE Hard Charger Award: 1S-Logan Schuchart[+12]
NEW Championship Standings (65/74 Races) – 1. Brad Sweet (8,076); 2. David Gravel (-96); 3. Carson Macedo (-140); 4. Sheldon Haudenschild (-240); 5. Donny Schatz (-244); 6. Logan Schuchart (-326); 7. James McFadden (-466); 8. Spencer Bayston (-540); 9. Jacob Allen (-660); 10. Brock Zearfoss (-878).