Column By: BRIAN WALKER / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CONCORD, NC – Almost exactly nine months after the 2021 season started at Volusia’s DIRTcar Nationals, it ended at Charlotte’s World Finals.
It was a long and grueling, but rewarding road filled with 80 races and drives from coast to coast for the full-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series teams and drivers.
On Sunday, the campaign officially concluded with a championship celebration to honor this year’s award winners and the 12 full-time drivers that committed to the entire length of the schedule.
Here’s who walked away with what:
The NOS Energy Drink Human Horsepower Award was presented by NOS Energy Drink Marketing Director, Lauren Albano. This year’s recipient of the Award was Australia’s James McFadden, for his and his family’s sacrifice in journeying to the USA from Australia to compete full-time with the Series.
The Ted Johnson Award, named after the founder of the World of Outlaws, is reserved solely for someone who has dedicated their entire life to the sport of Sprint Car Racing. Claiming the honor yesterday was Steve Beitler, who just put the finishing touches on a stellar career as the promoter at Washington’s Skagit Speedway.
The KSE Hard Charger of the Year Award also went home with James McFadden, who offered eight hard-charging occasions throughout the 2021 season.
The Engine Builder of the Year and Chassis Builder of the Year both went to the manufacturers behind Brad Sweet’s third consecutive championship. Don Musselman of Maxim Chassis and Rob Capetta of Capetta Engines were at the event to accept the awards on behalf of their organizations.
The Slick Woody’s Qualifier of the Year Award was an easy one in 2021. David Gravel, with a whopping 19 QuickTimes, was far and away the best qualifier on tour aboard the Big Game Motorsports #2. The next closest to DG was Haudenschild, Schuchart & Sweet all at seven QuickTimes.
The Team Drydene Blood, Sweat & Gears Award goes to the individual who most improved their average finish from last year. It was an obvious answer with Carson Macedo claiming honors thanks to an incredible upgrade from 8.72 to 6.28 amid his move to the Jason Johnson Racing #41.
The VP Racing Fuels Makin’ Power Award offered a much-appreciated allotment of 10 fuel drums to champion Brad Sweet, five fuel drums to top rookie James McFadden, and another five fuel drums to most improved Carson Macedo.
The Jason Johnson Sportsmanship Award is one of the more personal awards available and voted on solely by the drivers, crews, and staff that spend the entire season going up and down the road together. This year, the consensus was clear, and Cody Jacobs was voted the winner.
The Crew Chief of the Year Award also went home with Cody Jacobs for an impressive first full-time season with the World of Outlaws. As the leader at Big Game Motorsports, he helped guide Gravel to 11 wins and a championship runner-up effort. On stage, he said, “we’ll reload and see if we can give ‘The Big Kitty’ a run for his money next year.”
The Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award gave James McFadden his third piece of hardware to take home. The Australian was magnificent in his first full season on this side of the pond, becoming only the sixth driver in Series history to win multiple races during a ROTY run.
In the rundown of the standings, they finished as follows.
12th – Jason Sides of Bartlett, TN fought on-track and off-track gremlins as he powered through to finish another full-time season with the Series. After overcoming a trailer wreck that sidelined him for more than a month, “Double Down” returned to earn his first top-five finish in more than four years and all together claimed four top-10 finishes.
11th – Wayne Johnson of Oklahoma City, OK enjoyed a sophomore surge with the Series, earning 10 top-10 finishes and challenging for several wins. He made a career-high four DIRTVision Fast Pass Dashes and led laps at Huset’s and Lernerville as the Two-C Racing crew was visibly better from 2020 to 2021.
*** Kasey Kahne represented Roth Motorsports as they earned a 10th-place finish in the owners championship with Kahne, Aaron Reutzel, and Parker Price-Miller splitting time behind the wheel of the #83.
10th – Jacob Allen of Hanover, PA completed his eighth full-time season with The Greatest Show on Dirt. Although he didn’t get that second-career win, the son of Bobby Allen was more consistent than ever with a career-high 20 top-10 finishes to his credit. The lovable fan favorite says he appreciates the tour and his family on the road more than ever.
9th – Brock Zearfoss of Jonestown, PA never gave up through all of the trials and tribulations in his rookie season. The Jonestown Jet missed several weeks midway through the year with a concussion, but eventually returned to the seat stronger than ever. He qualified for his second Knoxville Nationals A-Main and saved his best for last, driving the #3Z to a second-place run in the season finale on Saturday night. Brock & “Noisey” are ready to come back and find that sophomore surge that so many before have enjoyed.
8th – Kraig Kinser of Bloomington, IN finished inside the top-10 in the World of Outlaws championship standings for the 11th time in his career this year. The #11K was a top-five finisher on four occasions and challenged for several wins, most notably at I-55 alongside Brad Sweet. After an off-season full of reloading, the 2005 Knoxville Nationals champion hopes to return to Outlaw victory lane in 2022.
7th – James McFadden of Alice Springs, NT, AUS wrapped up his inaugural full-time season on American soil in seventh-place after missing the first six races. He brought the Kasey Kahne Racing #9 back to platinum status and delivered a pair of victories at Kokomo (IN) and Skagit (WA).
6th – Sheldon Haudenschild of Wooster, OH finished his fifth full-time season in the sixth position. The Stenhouse Jr. Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink #17 visited victory lane on eight occasions, including wins at Knoxville, Eldora, and Williams Grove. If everything went right, you could very reasonably say the son of “The Wild Child” had 15+ wins in his bag.
5th – Logan Schuchart of Hanover, PA recorded his third consecutive top-five championship result with the World of Outlaws. Although it was a drop from his runner-up effort in 2020, the Shark Racing star is adamant that his Drydene Performance Products #1S was even better in 2021. The team was hounded by bad luck, evident by their dominance yet lack of success at the World Finals. They still offered several incredible runs such as their $50,000 Jackson Nationals title and $20,000 Texas Outlaw Nationals score.
4th – Donny Schatz of Fargo, ND finished off the championship podium for the first time since 2005. Don’t be fooled by his three-win season, though. He collected the most top-five finishes (47) and actually had the most points of any driver through the second half of the season. With early-season mistakes gone, the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15 driver is more motivated than ever to return to the mountaintop for the 11th time in 2022.
3rd – Carson Macedo of Lemoore, CA made the change to the Jason Johnson Racing #41 and it instantly paid off. The 25-year-old immediately became one of the hottest young stars on tour, finishing a career-best third in the championship chase. With mastermind Phil Dietz on the wrenches, the third-year Outlaw racked up 11 wins including W’s at iconic venues like Knoxville, Eldora, and Williams Grove, to go along with his $75,000 National Open title.
2nd – David Gravel of Watertown, CT earned a career-best runner-up effort in the championship standings after placing third on four occasions. It was his first year with Tod Quiring’s Big Game Motorsports operation and they came out of the gates swinging with 11 wins including a historic sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s a sign of things to come as the 29-year-old hopes this is the fit needed to achieve his destiny of winning the Outlaws championship one day.
1st – Brad Sweet of Grass Valley, CA collected his third consecutive championship, something only Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz had done before him. The Big Cat scored 16 victories aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49. The 35-year-old noted the team chemistry between himself and crew members Eric Prutzman, Joe Mooney & Andrew Bowman is a large part of their success and something they look to keep together for years to come.