The Breakdown: World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at West Liberty Raceway
By: Tony Veneziano
WEST LIBERTY, IA — June 19, 2017 — The inaugural event for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at West Liberty Raceway in Iowa will take the green flag on Friday, June 23. The half-mile located on the Muscatine County Fairgrounds has a rich history of hosting racing. West Liberty Raceway will be one of only two tracks hosting the series for the first time ever in 2017 and one of just two in the state of Iowa to have the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series visit this season. The edition of The Breakdown sets the stage for the West Liberty Hawkeye 25 for the Outlaws at West Liberty Raceway.
West Liberty Raceway is a sprawling, semi-banked half-mile. The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series will look to establish a track record for 410-sprint cars.
While the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series will be racing for the first time at West Liberty Raceway, a handful of series drivers have won in their careers in the state of Iowa. Donny Schatz, the eight-time and defending series champion, leads this list, with his amazing track record in the Knoxville Nationals at the famed Knoxville Raceway. Schatz has also won in the Hawkeye State at 34 Raceway and at the Clay County Fair Speedway.
Joey Saldana has been victorious on Iowa soil at Knoxville in 2006 and also at 34 Raceway in 2009. Shane Stewart has a pair of World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series wins in Iowa in his career. He was won Knoxville Raceway in 2008 and at Crawford County Speedway in 2015.
Jason Johnson scored the biggest win of his career last year in the Hawkeye State, capturing the $150,000-to-win Knoxville Nationals. Brad Sweet also has a pair of wins in the state of Iowa in his career, with the first coming at Knoxville in 2014 and the most recent a few weeks ago, again at Knoxville.
Kraig Kinser, the son of 20-time World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion Steve Kinser, is also a past winner of the Knoxville Nationals, taking that crown in 2005.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series has 16 card-carrying members this year, led Donny Schatz. David Gravel is currently second in points, with Brad Sweet third, his teammate Daryn Pittman fourth and Shane Stewart rounding out the top-five. Jason Johnson currently rides sixth in points, with rookie Sheldon Haudenschild seventh, Joey Saldana eighth, Logan Schuchart ninth and Jason Sides 10th.
Also on the road this year are veteran drivers Paul McMahan, Kraig Kinser and Greg Wilson, as well as young drivers Jacob Allen, Clyde Knipp and rookie Brent Marks.
Another stellar group of veteran drivers is following the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series full-time in 2017. Donny Schatz, the eighth-time and defending series champion is tops on the list. Schatz has a series-best 10 wins this season, including one in the state of Iowa at the famed Knoxville Raceway.
Brad Sweet, who is third in points, has four victories thus far in 2017 and is locked in a tight battle for second in points with David Gravel. Shane Stewart and Jason Johnson each have a pair of wins this season. Stewart is battling 2013 series champion Daryn Pittman for the fourth spot in points.
Joey Saldana is chasing his 100th career World of Outlaws A-Feature win, which would make him just the sixth driver in series history to accomplish that feat.
The next generation
The future of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series is served well by David Gravel, Logan Schuchart, Jacob Allen and Clyde Knipp. Gravel leads the group with nine wins, which ties his career-high from last season. Schuchart has three wins this season, including at the famed Eldora Speedway in Ohio. Allen, who is Schuchart’s teammate at Shark Racing, led laps in a feature event for the first time in his young career last weekend at River Cities Speedway in North Dakota.
Brent Marks and Sheldon Haudenschild are contending for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award this season. Meyers, who is a native of Myerstown, Pennsylvania, cut his teeth racing on big half-mile tracks, similar to West Liberty Raceway, in his home state, such as Williams Grove Speedway and Port Royal Speedway. Haudenschild, who was born and raised in Wooster, Ohio, is the son of Hall of Famer Jac Haudenschild.
Among the “invaders” expected for the inaugural World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series event at West Liberty Raceway are brothers Kerry and Ian Madsen. The Australian brothers both have World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series wins this season at the Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota, during the Jackson Nationals. Brian Brown, who with the Outlaws in Arizona earlier in the season is also tentatively expected to compete, as well as young Californian Dominic Scelzi, son of multi-time NHRA drag racing champion Gary Scelzi.
Tickets for the inaugural West Liberty Hawkeye 25, featuring the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series inaugural at West Liberty Raceway in Iowa on Friday, June 23 can purchased online or by calling: 815-344-2023 and at the track on race day.