Grass Valley, Calif., native takes the checkered in front of family and friends on night one of Calistoga double-header
CALISTOGA, Calif. – April 5, 2014 - It was friends and family night for California native Brad Sweet on Saturday at Calistoga Speedway after he held off Brian Brown in a thriller for his third World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
Sweet and Brown flipped the lead several times in traffic before Sweet, of Grass Valley, Calif., pulled ahead for the victory in the waning laps, kicking off a victory celebration that included several of his friends and family members from his native Golden State.
Brown, who lost the lead while working through lapped traffic, held on for the runner-up finish. Joey Saldana started and finished in third while Donny Schatz was fourth and another hometown hero, Rico Abreu, rounded out the top-five on the first of two nights of World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series action at Calistoga.
Brown jumped out to a quick lead over pole-sitter Schatz. Brown continued to lead on lap six when the caution flew for David Gravel, winner of the previous event at Merced Speedway last Friday night. On the restart, a red flag would fly for contact with Bud Kaeding and Austin Wheatley. The ensuing restart was single-file as Brown continued to lead. On lap 11 the leaders hit lapped traffic at the half-mile oval. A bobble in traffic on lap 12 cost Brown the lead as Sweet, behind the wheel of the Kasey Kahne Racing SurePointMedical.com #49 drove by him in turn four.
Brown regained his composure and continued to track Sweet with virtually no distance between the two around the half-mile oval. Brown’s persistence paid off on lap 14 when Sweet had to check up for a lapped car on the backstretch allowing Brown to blow by him on the inside.
Sweet continued to push for the lead and made the pass for the win on lap 16. Brown had a final chance to battle for victory after a caution on lap 21 for Paul McMahan with a flat right rear tire. On the restart Brown began to get a run on Sweet when the red flag was thrown for DJ Netto and Lucas Wolfe making contact. Brown slung the FVP/Casey’s General Store #21 to the top of the track to try to pass while Sweet drove to the bottom and was able to maintain his advantage.
Sweet held on for the remaining few circuits to collect the victory in the 25-lap A-main.
“Holy cow that was tough!” Sweet said. “The track guys worked their butts off and gave us a good race track. I was lucky enough to get that caution (lap 21) because I was really hanging on for a minute. We were able to get through the dash and gain a row, then got really good starts in the A. Thank you to all my friends and family that are here, I’m glad you got to see me win and thanks to all the fans for coming out.”
Tames windy conditions for second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car victory of season
TUCSON, Ariz – March 8, 2014 - Brad Sweet drove to victory in the NAPA Auto Parts Wildcat Shootout presented by RideNow Powersports on Saturday night at Tucson International Raceway for his second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series win of 2014.
Sweet surged into the lead past Kerry Madsen on the fourth lap of the 25-lap main event at the 3/8-mile dirt oval. Madsen held on for second while Steve Kinser was third for his fourth consecutive podium finish during his “Salute to the King” tour. Past champions Daryn Pittman and Donny Schatz rounded out the top five.
High winds that developed during the course of the event made it challenging for all of the drivers, forcing Sweet his Kasey Kahne Racing team to adjust to the conditions in order to remain competitive.
Following a special parade lap honoring Steve Kinser, Sweet closed the gap on Madsen during lap three entering turn two and drove the Kasey Kahne Racing machine into turn three and pulled underneath Madsen to complete the slide job on lap four.
Sweet pulled away from the field until the caution flew on lap eight for a car stopped on the outside of turn four. Sweet and the SureTestSupplies.com #49 then shot to the lead and drove away from the rest of the field.
“It’s nice to get off to such a good start,” said Sweet, of Grass Valley, Calif., who is making his first run at a series championship. “The track was a little tough with that wind, and traffic was a little sketchy tonight too. I knew Kerry [Madsen] was probably going to get the jump with the way the track was with the top a little better. He didn’t just get off two too well one time and I was able to get just enough of a run. I knew I was going to be close with the way slide jobs are here, but we had to go for it and I went for it.”
Madsen did best to follow suit, and though his American Racing Custom Wheels #29 machine had a gap on third place he could not run down Sweet.
“We had some issues in the dash and the cars were quite hard to control, however, it actually wasn’t too bad in the A-main,” said Madsen, of St. Marys, N.S.W. native. “I was probably just a little too conservative there and Brad was really aggressive and drove by me. He was driving a much more aggressive line than I was and I’m kind of kicking myself a little bit. It was still a great result. A big hats off to Brad and team, they were very quick there so I’d have to say they deserve that.”
The battle moved to third place as Kinser held the position, but had to fend off Pittman and Schatz. On lap nine Schatz was on the rear bumper of Pittman, but was unable to complete the pass. Pittman’s car began to come to life then as he caught Kinser on lap 13. For the final 20 laps the three remained in a heated battle, but from one line to the next no one could get past Kinser’s Tony Stewart Racing Bad Boy Buggies #11.
A happy 20-time champion, Kinser was joking in victory lane, “It’s a little windy and a little chilly,” noted Kinser with a smile. He jokingly added, “I try to stay out of it in the wintertime. … Once we got on the top, the wind wasn’t terrible. We just got our car laying over a little bit too much to be able to run so we were just hanging on to where we were, and it was a good thing we started up front. I was tight getting in and I was just slinging the car in and spinning the right rear and when I did it would free the car up and working on [the right rear] a little bit.”
Paul McMahan leaves Tucson with a 1-point advantage over Sweet in the championship points. Schatz sits in third position trailing by eight points with Steve Kinser a slim 14 points out of the championship lead.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series invades Thunderbowl Raceway on March 14-15 in Tulare, Calif., as the Spring Break Tour enters California, where it will compete through April 12.
Photo credit: Keenan Wright
Kasey Kahne Racing driver edges McMahan to win at Volusia’s DIRTcar Nationals
BARBERVILLE, Fla. – Feb. 14, 2014 - In a race where three drivers exchanged the lead five times, it was Brad Sweet who led the final two laps to win the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series season opener during the DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit Racing Equipment at Volusia Speedway Park.
Paul McMahan was in contention for the victory much of the night, but Sweet was able to drive to the front late, relegating McMahan to a runner-up finish. Kerry Madsen pushed to a late-race third-place finish while Tim Shaffer, who led 26 of the 30 laps before fading late, and Dale Blaney rounded out the top five.
Dash winner Shaffer jumped out to the early lead after starting on the pole. Behind Shaffer the battle was for second between McMahan and Sweet. McMahan held the position for two laps when Sweet took the spot. Sweet held the position for six more laps before McMahan took it back.
McMahan pushed forward and caught Shaffer on lap 15. Two laps later McMahan made the pass for the lead. Seconds later the lone caution of the feature flew for a spin in turn three. McMahan chose to restart on the bottom with Shaffer on top.
On the restart Shaffer used the momentum on the top side of the racetrack to take the lead back in turn one. Shaffer gained a small lead while Sweet got around McMahan with Sweet powering around the top and McMahan patiently working the bottom of the track.
Shaffer’s lead began fading on lap 22 with Sweet, McMahan and Madsen slowly reeling him in. Shaffer’s lead continued to dwindle and on lap 26 as McMahan slid past Sweet for second, then made his move to lead lap 28. The lead did not last long as the top four were separated by less than a straightaway. Going into turn one Sweet and SureTestSupplies.com Kasey Kahne Racing #49 made the move and took the lead for the fifth and final lead change.
Sweet held the lead and took the checkered flag for night one of the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series season, replicating his teammate Daryn Pittman’s effort in 2013 after rejoining the tour full time.
“We made a lot of improvements from last night and it showed,” said the Grass Valley, Calif., native Sweet. “The bottom was a little better, but if you got too close behind a car you got bad air and it would take away the nose. That’s what happened getting into one with Tim and I about hit the wall. I knew I had one more chance and Paul [McMahan] snuck up on me, but I never gave up on the top. We got lucky the bottom gave up a little and we were able to bring it home.”
Sweet leaves the event with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship lead with Madsen in second after earning four qualifying bonus points. Paul McMahan holds third place after opening night in the championship standings.
2013 World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Champion Daryn Pittman finished the event seventh while five-time champ Donny Schatz finished 12th after transferring through the Last Chance Showdown.