Column: A Double Dose Of The I-55 Raceway Ahead For World Of Outlaws Sprint Car Racers
Column By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – PEVELY, MO – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars are heading to one of the country’s best bullrings.
Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 may be a third of a mile in distance, but it races every bit like a quarter mile with its narrow confines and high banks. The Pevely, MO racetrack routinely produces some of the sport’s most unforgettable moments and is one of the fastest tracks for its size.
After a weekend in the northwest corner of Missouri and southeast region of Kansas, The Greatest Show on Dirt is headed south of St. Louis this weekend (April 14-15) to I-55 for the first of a pair of Pevely doubleheaders. The Series will return for the Ironman 55 (August 4-5), which puts $20,000 on the line for whoever conquers the demanding 55-lap finale.
As an added bonus, the best Sprint Car drivers will be joined by the Xtreme Outlaw Midgets presented by Toyota each night and will again for Ironman weekend in August.
Let’s look at some of the weekend’s top storylines:
CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHT: This past weekend at U.S. 36 Raceway and 81 Speedway proved to be eventful within the standings as the top three jockeyed for positioning on both nights.
Carson Macedo came out looking the best with a rise from third to the lead. A pair of podiums elevated the Lemoore, CA native atop the points for the first time this year.
It was a rollercoaster weekend for Brad Sweet with a Friday ascent before Saturday’s descent. The four-time and defending champion jumped into the top spot thanks to a third place effort to open the weekend. Then an incident Saturday at 81 Speedway resulting in a 14th-place finish dropped him to third.
David Gravel entered as the points leader, but a Friday crash caused him to slip to third. The Big Game Motorsports driver rebounded on Saturday with a podium to rise to the runner-up spot.
PEVELY PROS: In recent years, it’s been nearly a guarantee that Brad Sweet or Sheldon Haudenschild will be in the running for the win in Pevely. The duo has combined to win nine of the last 13 trips to I-55.
Haudenschild’s success has been highlighted by his famed 2019 Ironman victory when he lapped up to sixth place and won by more than 10 seconds. The Wooster, OH native owns three more I-55 triumphs – one in 2020 and a weekend sweep of the Ironman in 2021. The pilot of the Stenhouse Jr./Marshall Racing #17 has also posted top fives in 12 of his 17 starts at the track.
Sweet’s recent record in Pevely is wildly consistent. In his last 14 starts at the third-mile, the Kasey Kahne Racing driver has posted five wins, 12 podiums (including the last seven), and a 2.86 average finish.
I-55 IMPROVEMENT: Early on in his career, Carson Macedo struggled at I-55, but he’s completed turned that narrative around.
The driver of the Jason Johnson Racing #41 has made 14 World of Outlaws starts in Pevely. In the first seven starts, Macedo’s best finish was seventh with an average finish of 14.4. The seven since yielded a pair of victories – both last year – and a 4.6 average finish.
Macedo looks to keep the momentum rolling to pad his points lead.
SCHUCHART SEEKING WIN: The driver highest in points yet to visit Victory Lane this season is Shark Racing’s Logan Schuchart.
The Hanover, PA native has been close this year with five top fives through 12 races, but the top spot has eluded him.
I-55 has been kind to Schuchart. He triumphed in the 2018 Ironman 55 and owns 12 top fives in his most recent 15 starts.
J-MAC MOTORING IN MISSOURI: James McFadden has already won twice this season, and his record at I-55 suggests another triumph could arrive this weekend.
The Roth Motorsports driver is yet to win in Pevely, but he’s earned top fives in five of his last six starts including a trio of podiums.
McFadden is coming off tallying his third top five of 2023 at 81 Speedway.
SCELZI’S STEPPINGSTONES: After a tough start to the year, Gio Scelzi continues to improve during his rookie campaign.
The Fresno, CA native has only missed the top 10 once in the last seven races, and this past weekend Scelzi posted his two best finishes of the season. On Friday at U.S. 36 Raceway he brought the KCP Racing #18 home seventh, then improved to sixth Saturday at 81 Speedway.
Scelzi’s I-55 experience is limited, but in three starts at the Missouri oval he has earned one of his 14 career Series podiums.
INVADERS: Plenty of drivers are expected to be on hand to complete a stout field.
Among those who could best the World of Outlaws is Rico Abreu. The St. Helena, CA native has already won twice with The Greatest Show on Dirt in 2023 including the most recent event – the $20,000 to win Jason Johnson Classic. Pevely is one of two tracks where Abreu has won multiple Series events. He topped the 2016 Ironman finale and the 2018 Ironman opener.
Justin Peck and Buch Motorsports plan to be in action. The 24-year-old finished eighth on both nights of the Ironman weekend last year. The Monrovia, IN native is also a former I-55 winner in MOWA Sprint Car action (’18).
Buddy Kofoid is yet to miss a 2023 World of Outlaws race, and he expects that to continue in Pevely. Despite not being a full-time competitor, Kofoid still sits fifth in points courtesy of he and CMS Racing’s early season strength that’s including a Talladega Short Track victory and four podiums.
Others expected to compete include Joe B. Miller (Millersville, MO), Ryan Timms (Oklahoma City, OK), Ayrton Gennetten (Versailles, MO), Jake Neuman (New Berlin, IL), Blake Hahn (Sapulpa, OK), and more.