Column By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – BURLINGTON, WA – Washington is calling, and the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars are here to answer for a new west coast adventure.
A nearly 1,500-mile journey will take The Greatest Show on Dirt to Burlington, WA where Skagit Speedway awaits to host the Sage Fruit Skagit Nationals. The three-night tilt (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) concludes with a $26,000-to-win finale. The overall purse over the trio of races at Skagit exceeds $180,000. Then, after a day off on Sunday, the tour travels to Elma, WA’s Grays Harbor Raceway for a Monday night battle on Sept. 4.
The four races in five nights signal the start of a three-week stay on the left coast with California waiting to host the nation’s top drivers over the following two weekends. With the ongoing championship battle that has Brad Sweet 56 markers ahead of Carson Macedo, many drivers expected to make their season debut, and major money on the line, the 2023 west coast swing guarantees to deliver plenty of excitement beginning this week in Washington.
Let’s look at some of the weekend’s top storylines:
SHARK ATTACK: Fittingly, as the World of Outlaws head toward the ocean Shark Racing is carrying most the momentum thanks to Logan Schuchart. The Hanover, PA native is fresh off sweeping the weekend in North Dakota for wins four and five of 2023 – hitting 40 wins overall in his career.
All signs point toward the speed continuing as Schuchart owns an impressive Skagit résumé. Bobby Allen’s grandson is a three-time winner at the Burlington ova,l including claiming the 2019 Sage Fruit Skagit Nationals title. A fourth win this week would equal him with Donny Schatz as the winningest driver in Series history at Skagit.
While Schuchart hasn’t been quite as consistent at Grays Harbor, he did make a 2021 trip to Victory Lane.
COAST-TO-COAST: You can’t get much farther apart geographically than Connecticut and Washington, but that hasn’t stopped Watertown, CT native David Gravel from excelling in the Pacific Northwest state.
Like Schuchart, he’s a three-time Skagit victor hoping to equal Schatz’s record tally of triumphs. Gravel and his Big Game Motorsports #2 crew are also the defending Sage Fruit Skagit Nationals champions. The 31-year-old hasn’t finished worse than ninth in his last 14 starts at Skagit.
Over at Grays Harbor, Gravel is yet to win but he carries a streak of six consecutive top fives there including a trio of podiums highlighted by a runner-up last year.
HOME TURF: Neither Robbie Price or Tanner Holmes hail from Washington, but Skagit and Grays Harbor are a pair of tracks that they cut their teeth at while making a name for themselves.
Price came from Cobble Hill, BC, Canada. Skagit is home to perhaps Price’s biggest career win when he topped the 2019 Dirt Cup. Last year, he posted a top five with the World of Outlaws on the final night of the Sage Fruit Skagit Nationals.
Holmes grew up a state south of Washington in Oregon. The 19-year-old posted a trio of Skagit top fives at this year’s Dirt Cup including a runner-up on the second prelim. The week prior to Dirt Cup, Holmes podiumed with the Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) at Grays Harbor. Holmes will return to his home region as the driver of the Shark Racing #1T on the World of Outlaws tour.
PNW FTW?: The Pacific Northwest has produced its fair share of notable Sprint Car names, and some of the region’s current best intend to test their talents against the best this weekend.
The local that consistently stands out best suited to battle with The Greatest Show on Dirt is Trey Starks. Over the last year and a half, the Puyallup, WA native has won a combined 17 times at the two facilities ahead on the calendar – 12 at Skagit and five at Grays Harbor. Starks continues to chase what would be a popular first Series win in front of an admiring home crowd.
Former full-time World of Outlaws competitor – Jason Solwold – spends much of his time behind the wheel in his homeland of the Northwest these days. The Burlington, WA native owns three career Series victories, the most recent of which came at Skagit in 2008.
One of the region’s rising stars is Arlington, WA’s Jesse Schlotfeldt. He topped Skagit’s season opener this year in 360 Sprint Car competition. With the 410 under the hood, he’s finished in the top five four times including a May 27 podium.
HEADIN’ NORTH: In addition to Washington’s strong crop of locals, the Sage Fruit Skagit Nationals and Grays Harbor Raceway are expected to attract some of California’s top talent as some plan to make the long trip northbound on I-5.
Back in June, Skagit was the site of Justin Sanders’ biggest career win. The Aromas, CA native led every lap of NARC’s Super Dirt Cup and banked $82,000 in the process. He’s been in the Midwest recently behind the wheel of the Macri Motorsports #39M, but he’ll climb back aboard the Mittry Racing #2X, the ride he won Dirt Cup in, to begin the west coast swing at Skagit.
Another former Dirt Cup champ from “The Golden State” – Dominic Scelzi – will tow the Scelzi Motorsports #41 up from California’s central valley. “The Dominator” nearly swept the 2019 Dirt Cup with one runner-up and a pair of wins, and he topped Skagit’s Summer Nationals back in July.
Corey Day and the Jason Meyers Racing team are also expected to make the haul up to Skagit. The Clovis, CA phenom claimed both prelims of Dirt Cup earlier this year before capping it with a third-place effort in the finale. Day also won at Grays Harbor with NARC earlier this year.