Story By: JORDAN DELUCIA / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – GRAND FORKS, ND – With its small size and high speeds, it pays to be good in traffic at River Cities Speedway. Brad Sweet shined bright in that department Friday night, and it paid him his fourth victory of the season with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
Sweet, beginning a push toward a fourth-straight Series championship as the tour enters the final third of the season, bagged his second career victory at the high-banked 1/4-mile oval in convincing fashion, making the pass for the lead on Sheldon Haudenschild in traffic and fending-off all challengers to secure the win.
“That’s kinda what makes it racey here at [River Cities] – the lapped traffic is really tricky, and being so small, you’re in traffic so quick,” Sweet, of Grass Valley, CA, said. “You’ve got to make quick decisions and you’ve got to have a car that maneuvers on different parts of the racetrack.”
Taking the green from third on the starting grid, Sweet wasted zero time in his drive to the lead, getting around outside polesitter Spencer Bayston on Lap 2 and making a beeline for leader Haudenschild.
Haudenschild started his charge through slower traffic strong, making moves quickly and maintaining space between himself and Sweet. That was, until he reached the tail tank of Jade Hastings on Lap 11, who was also running the top side through Turns 3-4. This impeded his path just enough for Sweet to make a dive down low and take the spot away at the exit of Turn 4.
From there on out, it was smooth sailing for Sweet. Inside, outside, it didn’t seem to matter where the lapped cars in front of him were racing – Sweet was passing them with little-to-no hesitation.
“I felt good once I got to lapped traffic,” Sweet said. “You always want to get to those first couple of lapped cars and be able to clear them pretty quick. It makes you feel like you’ve got a little bit of a gap.”
As Sweet’s gap widened, David Gravel was making moves of his own toward the front. With a big head of steam out of Turn 2 and into Turn 3 on Lap 14, Gravel threw a big slide job on Haudenschild to take second, and from there began his trek to Sweet’s rear bumper.
A few caution flags bunched the field back up multiple times over the next 15 laps, giving Gravel and third-running Carson Macedo more opportunities to make a move for the lead from behind.
But neither seemed to have anything for the defending Series champion. Though Gravel and Macedo tried in the final laps, both were unable to catch the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 as Sweet drove away with the $10,000 check.
“On that final run with 11-to-go, I felt like I was able to pace [Sweet], but once I got to that first lapped car, I did not get around him very good and he was able to set sail,” Gravel, of Watertown, CT, said. “I think we had a car capable of winning, just needed a couple little things to go our way.”
Macedo, trailing both Gravel and Sweet in the championship standings, crossed the stripe in third after starting fifth. The run was his third-straight podium finish and 19th of such kind this season, backing-up he and the Jason Johnson Racing team’s momentum swing from a big win last weekend.
“We got to traffic and it would just start to play-out, then a caution would come,” Macedo, of Lemoore, CA, said. “Sometimes, that’s just the way it works.
“I thought the only way we were going to get by [Sweet and Gravel] would have been if they really got to mixing it up in traffic. I was praying for that.”
Sweet’s win now gives him three victories in the last nine World of Outlaws standard points events. It’s coming at a great time to make a push for the points title, especially after the win-shy start to the year they endured.
“It’s been a trying year, no doubt,” Sweet said. “We’re not used to the struggles, but I noticed a lot of teams are having similar struggles. I think everybody’s just searching with their race cars and trying to figure out what’s changing on a nightly basis.”
“With the slow start, we’re a little light in the win column. Obviously, [my] guys deserve to win a lot more.”
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars are back in action Saturday night, August 27, at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo, ND.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps)
1. 49-Brad Sweet [$10,000]; 2. 2-David Gravel [$6,000]; 3. 41-Carson Macedo [$3,500]; 4. 15-Donny Schatz [$2,800]; 5. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$2,500]; 6. 5-Spencer Bayston [$2,300]; 7. 83-James McFadden [$2,200]; 8. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$2,100]; 9. 5T-Ryan Timms [$2,050]; 10. 1A-Jacob Allen [$2,000]; 11. 13-Mark Dobmeier [$1,600]; 12. 14T-Tim Estenson [$1,400]; 13. 21K-Thomas Kennedy [$1,200]; 14. 7S-Robbie Price [$1,100]; 15. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$1,050]; 16. 11M-Brendan Mullen [$1,000]; 17. 6-Bill Rose [$1,000]; 18. 20G-Noah Gass [$1,000]; 19. 2A-Austin Pierce [$1,000]; 20. 8H-Jade Hastings [$1,000]; 21. 9N-Wade Nygaard [$1,000]; 22. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$1,000]; 23. 20A-Jordan Adams [$1,000]; 24. O-Nick Omdahl [$1,000] KSE Hard Charger Award: 5T-Ryan Timms[+8]