Column: Williams Grove’s 60th National Open For WoO Sprints Offers $75,000 Payday This Weekend
Column By: BRIAN WALKER / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – MECHANICSBURG, PA – The 60th edition of the Champion Racing Oil National Open is set to showcase the greatest rivalry in Sprint Car Racing this weekend at Williams Grove Speedway.
It’s the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series full-timers vs. the prideful Pennsylvania Posse locals, with some incoming invaders thrown in, all battling for the big $75,000 payday at the iconic Mechanicsburg, PA 1/2-mile.
SIX FORMER CHAMPS: Highlighting a loaded field with nearly 50 entries expected is a group of six former champions of the National Open at Williams Grove, a list that equally features three full-time Outlaws and three of PA’s finest.
Carson Macedo, of Lemoore, CA, made it six winners in the last six years when he drove by Logan Schuchart in dramatic fashion to lead the final five laps of the 2021 race, becoming the 35th champion in event history. This weekend, he’ll have a shot at becoming the seventh man to win back-to-back National Open titles and the first since Donny Schatz last did it in 2004-05.
Donny Schatz, of Fargo, ND, owns more National Open belts than anyone else with six titles to his name, including his most recent in 2020. The Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15 driver has won a whopping 21 times at Williams Grove, more than anywhere else throughout his prolific World of Outlaws career. He’ll look to do it one more time with a seventh National Open title available this weekend.
Brent Marks, of Myerstown, PA, won his 2019 National Open when he was a full-time Outlaw and now he wants to win one for the PA Posse. Three of his remarkable 17 victories this season have come at Williams Grove, including a World of Outlaws win during May’s Morgan Cup. A $75,000 payout for the Murrary-Marks #19 gasser would only boast his record as the richest Sprint Car driver of 2022.
Lance Dewease, of Fayetteville, PA, ended a three-year drought against the World of Outlaws when the Series last visited his home turf in July, bringing his total to 18 career wins. Lately, the Kreitz Racing #69K has been on fire at Williams Grove, winning three-straight races at the track. Dewease is chasing his fifth National Open title, which would break a tie with Steve Kinser (4) for second-most in event history.
David Gravel, of Watertown, CT, has thrived at Williams Grove more than any other venues on the World of Outlaws schedule, scoring eight of his 75 career wins at the 1/2-mile. No stranger to controversial endings at the National Open, this two-time champion is one of the most polarizing faces when the Outlaws come to face the Posse, and it’ll be no different this weekend as he aims to be the seventh to reach three titles.
Danny Dietrich, of Gettysburg, PA, currently leads the Williams Grove point standings and sits on 28 career wins entering the weekend. Three of those were earned this year, including a complete sweep of the All Star Circuit of Champions Twin 20s in August. Along with Marks, the Gary Kauffman Racing #48 driver is trying to become the 13th multi-time National Open champion this weekend.
BREAKING THROUGH: There are several contenders who could win their first National Open belt this weekend, making it seven champions over the last seven years.
Brad Sweet, of Grass Valley, CA, finally conquered Williams Grove in his 53rd career start during the July doubleheader. It was made possible thanks to years of dedication and a one-off car built by his Kasey Kahne Racing #49 crew specifically for the tricky 1/2-mile. The championship leader has pulled that car off the shelves, loaded it into the trailer, and is ready to see if they can do it again with $75,000-to-win this weekend.
Anthony Macri, of Dillsburg, PA, remains the winningest Sprint Car driver of 2022 with 21 triumphs to his name, three of those coming in Mechanicsburg. Within the last month, “The Concrete Kid” has won $60,000 at Port Royal’s Tuscarora 50, $26,000 at Selinsgrove’s National Open, and now eyes $75,000 at Williams Grove’s National Open. The 23-year-old pilot enters the weekend still chasing his first-career World of Outlaws win.
Sheldon Haudenschild, of Wooster, OH, has improved vastly at Williams Grove. Jac’s son started his career at the track with a 14.4 average finish through his first 20 World of Outlaws starts but has turned that around with a victory and five podiums in his last seven starts. The NOS Energy Drink #17 team is trying to add a $75,000 National Open score to go along with their $100,000 High Bank Nationals title this year.
IT MEANS MORE: Hailing from the state of Pennsylvania, National Open weekend has a way of putting a little pep into the step of Shark Racing, Brock Zearfoss Racing, and CJB Motorsports.
Logan Schuchart, of Hanover, PA, was closer than ever to his first taste of National Open glory last year, leading laps and finishing second while donning the throwback scheme for his grandfather and 1975 champion, Bobby Allen. The #1S pilot finished third in 2021, then second last year, and now hopes to finally break through for that first $75,000 crown at Williams Grove.
Jacob Allen, of Hanover, PA, experienced his own form of Williams Grove heartbreak earlier this year when he led the majority of May’s World of Outlaws race before running out of fuel. The #1A, which does still don the Bobby Allen throwback look, is amid a career-best streak of 13 consecutive top-10 finishes with Allen at the wheel. After earning a $25,000 Gold Cup title three weeks ago, Jacob hopes to one-up himself with a $75,000 win this time.
Brock Zearfoss, of Jonestown, PA, returns to the site of his first-career World of Outlaws win this weekend, a score that came in 2017 before his move to full-time status. The #3Z driver also earned his National Open career-best that year, finishing ninth, a mark he hopes to top this weekend.
Spencer Bayston, of Lebanon, IN, is far from a Pennsylvania native, but his team (CJB Motorsports) and crew chief (Barry Jackson) are rooted deep in the state. The first-year combination has already won twice as Bayston leads the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year chase and now eyes a big chance for a big weekend close the #5 shop.