Story By: ALEX NIETEN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – MECHANICSBURG, PA – Brad Sweet won the first Williams Grove race of the 2023 World of Outlaws season in May and the last on Saturday night
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series’ 2023 journey to Williams Grove Speedway ended the same way it started – with Brad Sweet in Victory Lane.
Less than 30 minutes after finishing fifth in the 61st Champion Racing Oil National Open, “The Big Cat” found another gear and won the 25-lap Feature – that was postponed from Friday – for his second Williams Grove triumph of the year. His first came in May.
“Really had a great race car right there,” Sweet said. “Wish we had that for the National Open. But it is hard to win these races. Everyone is always trying things and it’s in a small window.
“My guys have been giving me good race cars. Not only here, but everywhere lately. We’ve been in contention to win; it seems like night in and night out.”
Sweet started outside pole, alongside Toyota Dash winner Tyler Courtney. When the Feature commenced, “Sunshine” got the early jump and pulled ahead. However, the NAPA Auto Parts #49 kept the pressure on every corner.
Sweet dove under Courtney going into Turn 3 on Lap 2, but the NOS Energy Drink #7BC propelled ahead from the momentum gained on the top lane.
Their battle was interrupted with a caution on Lap 5 for a slowed Chase Randall. Upon the race’s resumption, Sweet took another shot at a Turn 3 slider. This time, success.
New leader, Brad Sweet, on Lap 6.
Three laps later, he was already ahead by nearly two seconds.
Courtney was left to try and fend of Carson Macedo for second, but a new hope emerged at the halfway point. While Sweet dealt with slower traffic, Courtney cut his lead in half.
With nine laps to go, Courtney closed within a second. With four to go, under half a second.
A potential July scenario was playing out again for Sweet where he got passed on the last corner by Logan Schuchart for the win.
However, Courtney lost his charge, getting passed by Macedo and David Gravel in the final two laps.
The four-time and reigning World of Outlaws champion went on to visit Victory Lane for the 10th time this season with the Series, extend his points lead – now 90 over Gravel – and score multiple wins at Williams Grove in a season for the first time in his career.
“We finally got the win with (my daughter) Savannah with me – she got to go on the wing – and my wife,” Sweet said. “My wife has spent a lot of miserable nights here at Williams Grove, (with us) having to take provisionals and stuff, so it is cool to see it come full circle and us get a win.”
After blowing a motor on the final lap of the National Open, Macedo and his Jason Johnson Racing crew thrashed in under 30 minutes to get a new motor in the car and have it ready for another 25 laps. Their resilience was rewarded with a second-place run.
“This JJR 41 team did an incredible job,” Macedo said. “That was about as quick as you can change a motor and try to make adjustments… I’m really proud of them. You work so hard and turn around and come back and get a runner up finish. I felt like we were pretty strong there at the end. I could get through (Turns 1 and 2) better than most guys.”
Gravel finished third for his 30th podium finish of the season – a Series high.
“I wish we could get to lap traffic there and dice it up a little bit more but just ran out of laps and got to third there on the last lap,” Gravel said.
“Overall, a solid weekend, but Brad (Sweet) beat us both nights and that’s not what you want. We’re going to keep working hard and digging and Port Royal (Speedway) is a pretty good track for us, so I’m really excited for [the Nittany Showdown, Oct. 6-7].”
Before the rain fell and postponed Friday’s Feature to Saturday, Gravel had a strong start to the event, scoring the Simpson Quick Time Award and winning the CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat #1.
Courtney finished fourth and, after winning his second National Open title, Brent Marks finished fifth. Ten-time Series champion Donny Schatz won the KSE Hard Charger Award, making his way from 27th to 13th.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returns to Port Royal Speedway for the two-day Nittany Showdown, Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps): 1. 49-Brad Sweet; 2. 41-Carson Macedo; 3. 2-David Gravel; 4. 7BC-Tyler Courtney; 5. 19-Brent Marks; 6. 39M-Lance Dewease; 7. 8E-Freddie Rahmer; 8. 13-Justin Peck; 9. 69K-Daryn Pittman; 10. 11T-TJ Stutts; 11. 83JR-Michael Kofoid; 12. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 13. 15-Donny Schatz; 14. 21-Brian Brown; 15. 8-Aaron Reutzel; 16. 27-Troy Wagaman Jr; 17. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 18. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 19. 48-Danny Dietrich; 20. 5-Spencer Bayston; 21. 39T-Kyle Moody; 22. 44-Dylan Norris; 23. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 24. 1X-Chad Trout; 25. (DNF) 9-Kasey Kahne; 26. (DNF) 58-Chase Randall; 27. (DNS) 26-Zeb Wise; 28. (DNS) 83-James McFadden; 29. (DNS) 71-Anthony Macri; 30. (DNS) 24-Rico Abreu