Story By: BRIAN WALKER / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – HANFORD, CA – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series is set for its final appearance in California this year.
In light of Placerville Speedway’s 49er Gold Rush Classic being postponed to 2022 due to ongoing fires, a new marquee event has stepped up to conclude the west coast swing for The Greatest Show on Dirt.
Hanford’s Keller Auto Speedway will take the date on Saturday, September 18 with the second annual Tom Tarlton Classic offering a $21,000-to-win purse.
Some of the top storylines to follow:
HOME GAME IN HANFORD: For Carson Macedo, the Tom Tarlton Classic isn’t just another high-paying race, it’s an event that hits close to home with more meaning than most. The 25-year-old Lemoore, CA native is the great-nephew of Tom Tarlton and cousin to Tommy Tarlton, two men that have been instrumental in the meteoric rise of Carson’s career.
Along with the family aspect, Macedo is the defending winner of the inaugural Tom Tarlton Classic held in 2020. That weekend, he drove the Tarlton owned #21 and banked $21,000 by World of Outlaws points leader Brad Sweet, Knoxville Nationals champion Kyle Larson, west coast superstar Dominic Scelzi, and former World of Outlaws champion Daryn Pittman.
Growing up in Lemoore, Macedo lives less than 15 minutes away from the Hanford, CA facility. He’s competed in three World of Outlaws shows at Keller Auto Speedway with a career-best finish of 8th in 2019. He’ll visit the 3/8th-mile on Saturday with Jason Johnson Racing for the first time, as he continues a stellar debut season with the Rocky Mount, MO team. They enter the weekend third in the championship chase with eight victories this year.
EAST COAST, BEST COAST: A pair of east coasters ruled the roost in California last weekend as the Gold Cup Race of Champions returned to Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway. Watertown’s David Gravel became the first Connecticut native to win a World of Outlaws show at the track, and Hanover’s Logan Schuchart earned the first Gold Cup title for a Pennsylvanian since Stevie Smith did it in 1993.
Both east coasters are the two most recent winners in Hanford too, with Schuchart scoring in 2017 and Gravel striking in 2019. The Shark Racing #1S will be looking to make it back-to-back wins for the first time this year, while the Big Game Motorsports #2 is trying to join Sweet in the double-digit win group.
CONSISTENCY WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Brad Sweet’s march to a third consecutive World of Outlaws championship has been fueled by the unrivaled consistency of the veteran 35-year-old. Through 65 Features, Sweet is the only driver without a DNF and thus the only driver to complete all 2,195 laps.
Sweet’s Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 team leads the way in six major statistical categories including Feature Wins (16), Laps Led (310), Podiums (32), Top-Fives (44), Top-10s (56), and Average Finish (4.82).
The Grass Valley, CA native goes to Hanford this weekend trying to make it 10 World of Outlaws wins in his home state. He’s won at Calistoga, Silver Dollar, Ocean, Bakersfield, Stockton, and Placerville, but still chases a Keller Auto Speedway victory. His career-best at the 3/8th-mile entering the Tom Tarlton Classic is a second-place finish to Shane Stewart in 2015.
CALI STANDOUTS: Per usual, the California locals showed up and showed out when The Greatest Show on Dirt ended a two-year absence last weekend in Chico. Among the most notable performances were Colby Copeland and Tanner Carrick, who each contended for wins in the 67th Gold Cup Race of Champions.
On Friday, Roseville, CA’s Colby Copeland earned the pole position in the Laramie #16A and paced the field for 13 laps. He traded sliders and went wheel-to-wheel with Sweet & Haudenschild before eventually finishing a career-best second to Gravel. On Saturday, Lincoln, CA’s Tanner Carrick impressed the nation with his near-upset before it came to a heartbreaking end. The 19-year-old was going toe-to-toe with Schuchart & Sweet before a loose tail tank sent him to the work area after leading 16 laps.
Other gassers that stood out last weekend include young guns like Blake Carrick and Ryan Robinson, along with seasoned veterans such as Dominic Scelzi and Kyle Hirst.
POINT BATTLES: With 12 races remaining in 2021, the closest battle within the top-10 is the war for fourth between Donny Schatz and Sheldon Haudenschild, separated by 44 points. Haudenschild’s eight wins and 293 laps led far outweigh Schatz’s three scores and 201 laps, but the 10-time champion has been far more consistent with 37 top-fives to Sheldons’s 32.
The Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15 and Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing #17 are battling for $55,000 and $50,000, respectively, in point fund money.
Gravel’s 140-point deficit to Sweet for the championship is the most-watched battle, but there are still others worth following. Macedo is only 48 points back of Gravel for the second spot, which features a $40,000 difference from $100,000 to $60,000 for third. Schuchart is only 56 points behind Haudenschild for a top-five bid, which is not out of the question with 12 races remaining.
DOLLA, DOLLA BILLS: Saturday’s $21,000-to-win show in Hanford marks the 11th race this season paying more than $20K. Incredibly enough, those 11 races have seen 10 different winners take the loot with Kyle Larson being the only repeat victor.
- $25,000 at Bristol – David Gravel (4/25)
- $30,000 at Huset’s – Aaron Reutzel (6/22)
- $50,000 at Jackson – Logan Schuchart (6/27)
- $175,000 at Eldora – Tyler Courtney (7/17)
- $175,000 at Eldora – Kyle Larson (7/17)
- $25,000 at Lernerville – Brad Sweet (7/20)
- $20,000 at Williams Grove – Brent Marks (7/24)
- $176,000 at Knoxville – Kyle Larson (8/14)
- $25,000 at Skagit – Carson Macedo (9/5)