Coming from sixth, Haudenschild braved the outside and bolted to the cushion at a time when his competitors were glued to the bottom. His risk paid off in a big way as the Wooster, OH native rocketed to the lead on Lap 25 and made his moves around Aaron Reutzel and Brad Sweet look like a breeze. The final 11 laps flew by as the 27-year-old star sliced and diced his way through a tricky run of lap traffic that included several close calls.
By topping his counterparts for the second-straight week, Haudenschild becomes the first repeat winner of the 2021 season. It’s his 16th career World of Outlaws win and continues to send the confidence of the Stenhouse Jr. Marshall Racing #17 through the roof.
“Winning these [Outlaw] races is a dream come true,” Haudenschild told a huge crowd in Paige, TX. “This NOS Energy Drink car is on rails right now. These guys Ripper, Drew, Nickolas, they all deserve these wins. We’re working real hard and the results just keep coming.”
Before Haudenschild wowed the crowd, Reutzel of Clute, TX was the talk of town. In his home state for the first time as a full-time World of Outlaws driver, Reutzel and the Roth Motorsports #83 looked unstoppable for much of Friday’s act at the Cotton Bowl 1/3-mile.
Reutzel, the leading Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender, set a New Track Record (13.356 seconds), won his Team Drydene Heat Race, drew the pole of the redraw, and won the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash all ahead of the 35-lap NOS Energy Drink Feature. He led the opening 12 laps before a restart allowed Sweet to lineup alongside him, and subsequently pass him around the outside.
Sweet ensued to lead his own share of 12 laps before Reutzel re-entered the picture and Haudenschild emerged to make it a three-way war the top spot. On Lap 25, Haudenschild followed Sweet down the backstretch but refused to follow the Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 to the bottom of turn three. Instead, he hauled it off into the corner and buried it deep into the cushion, finding the momentum and sweeping right around the outside of Sweet to take the lead away.
From there, Lil Haud maneuvered through lap traffic and ran off to a 0.571-second advantage at the checkered flag as he became the first repeat winner of the 2021 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car season.
“Ripper and I really haven’t had a lot of time together with this car,” Haudenschild noted on their hot streak. “Getting to work with him and the guys on developing a good base line setup for when we show up has helped a lot. Starting up front is huge too, you’re not gonna beat those guys starting behind them every night. We’ve been working on our qualifying too. We’re just making little strides everywhere. It’s great to be winning like this so early in the season.”
Closing out the podium behind Haudenschild was a dejected Aaron Reutzel in second and a consistent Brad Sweet in third.
“I’m actually really disappointed,” Reutzel said afterwards. “I just did a shitty job driving and you have to be a better driver to win these races. Car was fantastic, I think it was the winning car. These are hard to win. You have to run 35 perfect laps and I didn’t do that tonight. It’s good to get back on the podium after last weekend, though.”
Sweet, the two-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, re-claimed the early-season points lead with his fourth-straight podium appearance.
“The driver just needs to step up there,” Sweet admitted on his loss of the lead. “I knew I needed to move up, especially when you’re going that slow on the bottom. The top just didn’t look like it was there, though. I was trapped and got going slow, so I knew someone would find something. Didn’t surprise me when it was Sheldon that drove around me. I tried to keep up, but he was just a little better tonight.”
Ian Madsen recorded a season-high fourth-place finish in the McGhee #11. Donny Schatz earned his fifth consecutive top-five finish aboard the Tony Stewart Racing #15.
Gio Scelzi and KCP Racing recovered with a sixth-place finish, Kraig Kinser established a new season-best of seventh-place, James McFadden made his 2021 debut in the Kasey Kahne Racing #9 with an eighth-placed run, David Gravel put the Big Game Motorsports #2 in ninth-place, and Logan Schuchart extended his streak to seven top-tens in seven races with a tenth-place bid for the Drydene Performance Products #1S.
The perseverance of Jason Johnson Racing paid dividends with KSE Hard Charger honors for a 24th-to-13th run in the feature from Carson Macedo. It was a wild night to get to said result. The #41 was solid in qualifying and won a Team Drydene Heat Race, but a wicked flip in the Dash forced them to a backup car. Macedo flipped again on Lap six of the feature, but the never-say-die attitude in the work area led him back on track and allowed him to rise through the field again.
UP NEXT – The Drydene Texas Two-Step pres. by American Lube Supply wraps up on Saturday night at Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, TX. You can watch the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event LIVE on DIRTVision.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps) – 1. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$10,000]; 2. 83-Aaron Reutzel [$5,500]; 3. 49-Brad Sweet [$3,200]; 4. 11-Ian Madsen [$2,600]; 5. 15-Donny Schatz [$2,350]; 6. 18-Gio Scelzi [$2,150]; 7. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$2,100]; 8. 9-James McFadden [$1,950]; 9. 2-David Gravel [$1,900]; 10. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$1,850]; 11. 21-Brian Brown [$1,400]; 12. 3-Ayrton Gennetten [$1,200]; 13. 41-Carson Macedo [$1,000]; 14. 7S-Jason Sides [$950]; 15. 15H-Sam Hafertepe [$900]; 16. 8M-TJ Michael [$900]; 17. 26-Cory Eliason [$900]; 18. 5-Brent Marks [$900]; 19. 33M-Mason Daniel [$900]; 20. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$900]; 21. 19-Parker Price-Miller [$900]; 22. 1A-Jacob Allen [$900]; 23. 2B-Josh Baughman [$900]; 24. 2C-Wayne Johnson [$900]. Lap Leaders: Aaron Reutzel 1-12, Brad Sweet 13-24, Sheldon Haudenschild 25-35. KSE Hard Charger Award: Carson Macedo [+11]
NEW World of Outlaws Point Standings — 1. Brad Sweet (998); 2. Logan Schuchart (-12); 3. Donny Schatz (-24); 4. David Gravel (-30); 5. Sheldon Haudenschild (-46); 6. Carson Macedo (-58); 7. Aaron Reutzel (-62); 8. Cory Eliason (-80); 9. Kraig Kinser (-128); 10. Gio Scelzi (-130).