Racing is all about people, and the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 has all the right people right now.
Since the dawn of the 2019 season, Brad Sweet has been the hottest driver on tour with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series. He’s won back-to-back championships and has 29 victories, 94 top-five finishes, and 121 top-ten results across a 137-race stretch.
Part of the reason for that success? The team built around his NAPA Auto Parts #49.
Accomplished crew chief Eric Prutzman and passionate tire specialist Andrew Bowman have been with Sweet since 2018, when they won the Knoxville Nationals together. In 2019, they found the final piece of the puzzle with former racer Joe Mooney added as car chief, and it’s been nothing but championships since the foursome linked up.
In the midst of their third full season as a unit, the current makeup of Brad, Eric, Joe and Andrew has been almost unstoppable in 2021. They’ve got five wins through 11 races and have built a steady points lead with the help of a career-best four-race win streak.
This weekend at Kokomo Speedway on Friday and Tri-State Speedway on Saturday, Sweet and the KKR squad will have another chance to extend their streak to an astounding five and potentially six consecutive victories.
“This sport is all about people,” Sweet noted. “You have to find all the right pieces to the puzzle and we’ve got a solid foundation here. I feel like I’m driving good and there’s a lot of confidence within the team. We can move around with our race car and we’ve got a handle on things for the most part. We’ve had some great race tracks that we’ve been going to, but there’s some ahead that we’ve struggled at. I think that’s what makes us a good race team: we enjoy these moments, but stay focused on the future.”
For Eric Prutzman, a native of Pennsylvania, his life has been all about racing since the beginning. In 2009, he fulfilled a dream by going full-time with Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing and wound up with four World of Outlaws championships working for Donny Schatz. During that span, he excelled under the tutelage of crew chief icons such as Ricky Warner and Jimmy Carr.
He found a home at Roth Motorsports in 2016 with driver Joey Saldana before joining Kasey Kahne Racing with Daryn Pittman’s #9 the next year. In 2018, Prutzman was picked by Sweet to crew chief the #49 and it’s been a match made in heaven ever since.
“We’re just on the same page with everything at this point, you know we think alike,” Eric said on his relationship with Brad. “I think being together these last few years has helped out. I can tell what he’s thinking and he can tell what I’m thinking. It’s the different little nuances of a person.”
Behind Prutzman as the #49 car chief is Joe Mooney, a fellow Pennsylvanian from Lehighton. He raced for years in the northeast on primarily asphalt and then dirt before finding his first crew gig with Shark Racing out of Hanover, PA. He first joined Logan Schuchart‘s #1S in 2017 and completed a full year on tour in 2018, which included a win at the Ironman 55. In 2019, he signed on with the KKR #49 to round out the team.
When asked if winning ever gets old, he offered a classic response: “No, but it sure makes losing a hell of a lot harder.”
Andrew Bowman of Elida, OH completes the lineup as Tire Specialist. He’s been on the road with Prutzman and Sweet since 2018 and has racked up a lifetime of memories in three short years. From the Knoxville Nationals title to two World of Outlaws championships, Bowman stays humbled throughout the Outlaw grind and appreciates the fact that he’s living out a dream.
“I’ve dreamed about this since I was a kid,” Bowman said. “It’s cool to reflect and look back on how everything has unfolded. At the same time, we’ve all got this attitude in us that we know we have to look forward and keep digging to earn more wins.”
Their hot start to the season is nothing that Brad and the boys are taking for granted, though. They had a similar start last year before a mid-season collapse wiped away their points advantage and blew the championship battle wide open. It’s a memory they’re using to fuel the fire as motivation in 2021, especially with the summer of money approaching.
“It’s good to start strong, but for me personally I judge my season off those Crown Jewels in June, July, August when there’s a lot of money on the line,” Sweet said. “That’s where we really want to perform and start the push for a championship. Everyone is enjoying the moment, but we know last year we were off to a good start and then faded and struggle mid-season. We want to better than that. We just need to execute better than last year.”
“As soon as we back out of the track, we’re thinking about the next one,” Prutzman spoke on his mentality. “You enjoy it while you can, but always stay focused on the ultimate goal.”
We’ll see if they can keep their epic win streak alive this weekend in Indiana.
KOKOMO TICKETS (4/9)
TRI-STATE TICKETS (4/10)
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