Column: Up Next Will Be The Midwest Madness For World Of Outlaws Sprint Car Series
Column By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – GRANITE CITY, IL – A pair of historic racetracks await the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series this weekend.
First up is the highly anticipated return to Granite City, IL’s Tri-City Speedway on Friday, April 28. The World of Outlaws haven’t circled the Illinois 3/8 mile in 15 years. Then, a two-and-a-half-hour drive east takes the tour to Haubstadt, IN’s Tri-State Speedway on Saturday, April 29.
Both facilities own the honor of being the most visited by The Greatest Show on Dirt for their respective states. Tri-City Speedway has hosted the World of Outlaws on 55 occasions. Tri-State Speedway’s 42 trips outrank all fellow Hoosier state facilities. Both ovals first hosted a race during the World of Outlaws’ second year of existence – 1979.
Let’s look at some of the weekend’s top storylines:
TRI-CITY RETURN: Despite being the 14th most visited track in Series history, Friday at Tri-City Speedway will present a new challenge for many drivers. The World of Outlaws haven’t competed in Granite City since 2008.
Of the current full-time roster, only Donny Schatz and Bill Rose have turned Tri-City laps in World of Outlaws competition.
Schatz’s extensive experience may prove to be an advantage as the 10-time champion owns 16 starts. During the last visit in 2008 it was none other than Schatz coming out on top. The driver of the Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing #15 also has podiumed in half of his six most recent races at Tri-City.
Rose has made a pair of Tri-City appearances with the World of Outlaws (’01 & ’05). The Plainfield, IN native posted a top 10 in Granite City with the MOWA Sprints in 2013. He’s also been productive there without a wing – earning two USAC National Sprint Car top fives, including a podium effort in 2005.
MACEDO’S TRI-STATE MASTERY: Last year, Carson Macedo made history when he became the first driver to top three consecutive World of Outlaws races at Tri-State Speedway.
The Lemoore, CA native could continue to cement himself as one of the best to race around the paperclip shaped track this Saturday. Only Steve Kinser (8 wins), Sammy Swindell (5 wins), and Craig Dollansky (4 wins) have won more at Haubstadt. A victory Saturday would equal him with Dollansky.
Macedo and his Jason Johnson Racing crew enter the weekend atop the championship standings and hope to add to the lead.
GRAVEL EYES REBOUND: After appearing invincible early in the season, misfortune has struck David Gravel in recent weeks. A crash at U.S. 36 Raceway resulted in a 21st place finish, and contact with Carson Macedo in Pevely turned a potential win into a 10th. The Watertown, CT native sits third in points after leading through the first 10 races.
Fortunately for Gravel, this weekend presents a prime opportunity to rebound. The Big Game Motorsports driver’s only Tri-City experience is a 2010 American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) race, but he’s been one of the best at Tri-State. Gravel has won twice and podiumed on five occasions in 13 Haubstadt starts.
HAUD’S HAUBSTADT ROLLERCOASTER: It’s been an up and down relationship for Sheldon Haudenschild at Tri-State Speedway.
The Wooster, OH native always has the speed to contend for a win at the Indiana bullring, but Victory Lane has eluded him despite leading laps in three different Features. In 2017, Haudenschild looked poised for victory until an incident with a lapped car. The next year a crash while fighting for the lead ended his bid. Fast forward to 2021 when Haudenschild rocketed from the ninth starting spot to the lead before a flat tire with less than 10 laps to go extinguished his hopes.
Despite the misfortune keeping him from the top spot, the Stenhouse Jr./Marshall Racing driver’s results in Haubstadt are still impressive with three podiums and a 7.78 average finish in nine starts. “Haud” hopes to seal the deal on that elusive victory this Saturday.
CAN SWEET STRIKE?: Despite being one of the most consistent competitors at Tri-State Speedway, Victory Lane has eluded Brad Sweet.
In his last 10 starts at the quarter mile, Sweet has finished no worse than eighth aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 and owns a 5.4 average finish over that stretch. Two of his last three attempts have resulted in second-place finishes.
“The Big Cat” enters the weekend as the most recent winner this year and sits tied for the Series lead in victories with three.
FIRST TIMERS: The unique oval that is Tri-State Speedway has proven to present an opportunity at first career World of Outlaws wins.
A new Series winner has arisen twice in the last seven visits to Haubstadt. In 2017, it was Kokomo, IN’s Parker Price-Miller experiencing the thrill of his inaugural triumph. Three years later, Marion, IL native Carson Short bested The Greatest Show on Dirt in only his 11th career Feature start.
In total, Tri-State Speedway has produced six first time winners through its 42 World of Outlaws races.
Full-time Series drivers eying their first victory – Bill Rose, Kasey Kahne, Noah Gass, and Robbie Price will hope the trend continues.
MOWA MOTORS: The World of Outlaws may have not competed recently at Tri-City, but the track has still hosted some Sprint Car action over the last few years – mainly the Midwest Open Wheel Association (MOWA) Sprints.
Drivers such as Ayrton Gennetten, Joe B. Miller, Zach Hampton, and others have all performed well with MOWA in Granite City recently and could be factors on Friday with the benefit of added experience.
This weekend is also expected to attract a stout crop of invaders with Anthony Macri, Tyler Courtney, Buddy Kofoid, and more all planning to be in action.