Column By: BRIAN WALKER / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – OSBORN, MO – The Greatest Show on Dirt is set for the first Midwest weekend of 2022, and it’s a big one.
A Show-Me State doubleheader will highlight Osborn, MO’s 1/4-mile bullring at US-36 Raceway on Friday, April 8, and then the fourth annual $15,000-to-win Jason Johnson Classic at Eldon, MO’s Lake Ozark Speedway on Saturday, April 9.
It’s a dream come true for Sprint Car snobs with the newly-formed non-wing stars of the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Car Series presented by Low-E Insulation joining the winged warriors of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
Here’s a quick preview of what to watch for this weekend:
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: No need for the age-old debate of winged vs. non-wing, because race fans get both this weekend with the World of Outlaws and Xtreme Outlaw Series. You’ll see perennial title contenders like Sweet, Macedo, Gravel, Haudenschild, Schatz & more with the wings, while watching gassers like Leary, Ballou, Bacon, Swanson, Clouser & more work without them.
As of now, Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow, OK is the first double duty driver confirmed with a pair of Hoffman Auto Racing #69 machines coming to Missouri this weekend. The four-time USAC National Sprint Car champion has a non-wing resume that speaks for itself, but The Macho Man is alsoa highly-respected wing racer with one All Star Circuit of Champions victory and two World of Outlaws runner-up finishes to his credit.
RACE TO THREE: For only the ninth time in Series history, the World of Outlaws has produced eight winners through the opening 12 races. It’s the fifth time such an occurrence has happened in the last decade, an overwhelming shift compared to only four times through the first 35 seasons.
Entering this weekend, a quartet of stars share the top spot in the W column with two wins apiece. Included in that group is Carson Macedo (Lemoore, CA) in the Jason Johnson Racing #41, David Gravel (Watertown, CT) in the Big Game Motorsports #2, Sheldon Haudenschild (Wooster, OH) in the Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing #17, and Giovanni Scelzi (Fresno, CA) in the KCP Racing #18.
Other winners in 2022 include Brad Sweet (Grass Valley, CA) in the Kasey Kahne Racing #49, Donny Schatz (Fargo, ND) in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15, Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA) in the Kevin Kozlowski #57, and Brent Marks (Myerstown, PA) in the Murray-Marks Motorsports #19.
SHOW-ME MORE: Osborn’s US-36 Raceway has only hosted the World of Outlaws on five occasions, but each and every single appearance has been an outstanding one. There was Paul McMahan’s new track record in the nine-second bracket (9.846) in 2006, Joey Saldana’s epic race-long battle with Johnny Herrera in 2009, and of course Sheldon Haudenschild’s last-lap pass on Brad Sweet in 2020. On Friday, The Greatest Show on Dirt finally returns to the 1/4-mile with a can’t miss doubleheader set up alongside the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Cars.
JASON JOHNSON CLASSIC: Saturday’s fourth annual Jason Johnson Classic at Lake Ozark Speedway gives drivers, teams, and fans alike the chance to reminisce and remember The Ragin’ Cajun, a dearly missed racer, father, and friend. A little extra money ($15,000-to-win) is on the line but more than anything, Jason’s fellow competitors just want to enjoy in victory lane with his family and take home the trophy with his name on it.
Through the first three years, three different drivers have topped the Jason Johnson Classic. The inaugural event in 2019 was extra emotional with David Gravel driving the Jason Johnson Racing #41 to victory lane. Since then, Kasey Kahne Racing has ruled the last two races with James McFadden (#9) winning in 2020 and Brad Sweet (#49) dominating in 2021. All three will be in attendance on Saturday night hoping to be the first repeat winner of the special event.
TOO SWEET: Last year, Brad Sweet was already a five-time winner by the 12th race; this year, it took until the 11th race to even reahc the win column. However, the statistical categories he does lead is proof that The Big Cat is laying the foundation to chase his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws championship this season.
The victory lane trips have been less frequent, but the Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 is as good as anybody on tour at making the Dash, starting up front, and earning valuable points. Entering this weekend, Sweet leads the league in Podiums (6), Top Fives (9), Top 10s (11), and Average Finish (4.83).
A return to the Show-Me State is a welcomed one for Sweet, who has claimed eight of his 75 career victories in Missouri. He’s proven to be a perrenial contender at both tracks on the schedule this weekend, leading a majority of the 2020 US-36 show and winning twice in the past at Lake Ozark.
ON THE MARK: After winning $20,000 in Saturday’s DuraMAX/Drydene Texas Outlaw Nationals at Devil’s Bow, Brent Marks will stay on the road for the next two weeks with four more April shows planned with the World of Outlaws. The Myerstown, PA native continues to shine aboard the newly-formed Murray-Marks Motorsports #19, winning twice in six Series events since the team was formed late last year.
Dating back to the beginning of last season, Marks has the second-most victories of any non-full-time driver with his four wins only trailing Kyle Larson’s five. He’ll have four chances at US-36 Raceway, Lake Ozark Speedway, and Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 before returning to his home state later this month.
PODIUM PICKING: After suffering through some rough patches in California, 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz and Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing are beginning returning to form with back-to-back podium finishes. The Ford Performance, Advance Auto Parts #15 was third at Vado, then second at Devil’s Bowl, with his second win potentially looming next.
The Fargo, ND native owns three top-five finishes at US-36 and two previous wins at Lake Ozark, where the Series returns this weekend.
EARLY-NIGHT SUCCESS: When it comes to the preliminary portions of the evening, Jacob Allen (Hanover, PA) has positioned the Shark Racing #1A as a contender for best car in that category. He leads the league in Qualifying Average (6.42), owns one Slick Woody’s QuickTime Award, has four NOS Energy Drink Heat Race wins, and is tied for the most DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash appearances (8).
He’s taken the next step in correcting his backwards averages (9.33 Start, 13.08 Finish) lately with three top-10 finishes over the last four races. Allen recorded his second top-five of the year in Saturday’s DuraMAX/Drydene Texas Outlaw Nationals.