Column By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – JACKSON, MN – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars’ Summer of Money keeps on rolling.
For the next stop on the long, lucrative stretch of the season, The Greatest Show on Dirt will travel to Minnesota where Jackson Motorplex hosts the 45th Annual AGCO Jackson Nationals powered by Fendt.
The three-night (August 17-19) event is set to offer a pair of $10,000-to-win prelims on Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s $25,000-to-win, $2,000 to start finale. The total purse for Saturday’s Feature exceeds $100,000. Teams will tackle two nights of prelim action to help position themselves to fight on Saturday to etch their names in the history books as a Jackson Nationals champion.
Let’s look at the weekend’s top storylines:
JACKSON JET: In recent years, Logan Schuchart and his Shark Racing #1S crew have become the team to beat whenever the World of Outlaws head to Jackson.
The Hanover, PA native has won four of the last seven races contested at the Minnesota oval including the 2020 and 2021 Jackson Nationals finale. Jackson is tied as Schuchart’s winningest track in Series competition.
Schuchart’s Jackson résumé also boasts consistency in addition to the wins. Over that same seven race stretch, he’s only missed the podium once and owns a 2.86 average finish.
After his hopes of a Knoxville Nationals win were derailed by mechanical troubles, Schuchart hopes to rebound at one of his strongest tracks on tour.
SHARK VS. BIG CAT: While Schuchart has been the man to beat recently, Brad Sweet is no slouch at Jackson.
“The Big Cat” has also racked up four victories at the 4/10-mile including a 2017 Jackson Nationals title. That puts him equal with Schuchart’s total.
Their four wins apiece are tied for the most in Series history at Jackson, and the duo have a trio of nights ahead to battle for superiority in the record books and Saturday’s $25,000 prize.
BACK-TO-BACK: A recent trend of back-to-back winners is on the line when the Jackson Nationals begin on Thursday.
Carson Macedo is the most recent victor with his 2022 Jackson Nationals title, and the eight races prior to his victory were all won in back-to-back fashion. Brad Sweet topped two straight in 2019 and 2020. Then it was Schuchart’s turn as he claimed the final two nights of the 2020 Jackson Nationals. Next up was Kerry Madsen as he opened the 2021 Jackson Nationals with two straight wins. Schuchart returned to the top after Madsen with a 2021 Jackson Nationals title and the 2022 opener.
Now, Macedo has his chance at back-to-back as the 45th edition of the event begins on Thursday.
800 CLUB: This past weekend David Gravel hit a notable milestone with the World of Outlaws. The 11-year veteran of the tour reached 800 career Series Feature starts with his 22nd to 2nd charge at the #NOSvilleNationals.
Through his 800 starts, Gravel has notched 86 Wins (tied 9th all-time), 216 Podiums (16th all-time), 2,308 Laps Led, 106 Quick Times, and 231 Heat Wins.
The milestone comes amid Gravel’s pursuit of his first championship to add to the list of impressive numbers he’s racked up. He’s currently 14 points behind four-time and reigning champion – Brad Sweet – for the top spot.
Jackson is one of few tracks Gravel has visited and hasn’t made a trip to Victory Lane, but he’s been remarkably close with five podiums including a pair of runner-ups (2019 & 2021).
ROOKIE ROLL: A story that continues to evolve over the 2023 season is Giovanni Scelzi’s rookie campaign.
The Fresno, CA native continues to be one of the most consistent forces on tour with only five finishes outside the top 10 in the last 26 races. Scelzi’s latest statement was a fourth place run on the sport’s grandest stage at the Knoxville Nationals. Thursday’s opener will mark Scelzi’s 200th career World of Outlaws start.
He and KCP Racing’s consistency have led them to sitting fifth in points with over half of the season in the books. If Scelzi can maintain the speed they’ve shown and stay at least fifth in points, it would match the best Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year finish since Stevie Smith in 1990. Advancing one more spot would equal him with Jeff Swindell (1981) and Brad Doty (1982) for the best rookie run ever.
WELCOME TO THE TOUR: There’s a new name that will be following the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car tour for the remainder of the season beginning this weekend. Tanner Holmes has been tabbed as the pilot of the Shark Racing #1A for the duration of the 2023 campaign.
The 19-year-old out of Jacksonville, OR has continued to make a name for himself over the past couple of years leading to a major opportunity on a national level in a proven ride. Last year, Jacob Allen wheeled the car to four World of Outlaws wins and a Knoxville Nationals prelim triumph.
While Holmes has traveled to a certain extent over the past few years, this move marks a major shift for the driver accustomed to competing primarily along the west coast. The journey begins with his Jackson debut this weekend.