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.
2013 Kings Royal victor Brad Sweet was an elated winner of the ENZED World Series Sprintcars Round Three main event at Borderline Speedway Mt. Gambier tonight.
The 28 year old Californian steered the Highrace Towing GF1 chassis to a classy win in what was a race shrouded with drama and controversy as he led home Shaun Dobson in second and Darren Mollenoyux in third.
Driving for Josh and Isaac Ruhs out of Broken Hill in NSW the pint sized KKR racer who will join the World of Outlaws full time in 2014 never looked greatly troubled as he deftly moved through traffic in the car in which he won the Kings Royal in Eldora earlier this year.
“It certainly helps when you can drive a car that you’re used to,” he smiled from the podium, “and I can’t say enough about Josh and Isaac for giving me this opportunity. I came down here to Australia hoping to get a bit of an edge on some of my rivals back home for next year and I’m super happy I can start it off with a win here.”
Sweet’s victory in the $10,000 to win 35 lap A-Main was his first on Australian soil.
Brad Sweet and the Great Clips team faced their own challenges with the 5 car’s handling during the 200-lap event. Sweet held onto a spot inside the top-10 early in the race, slipping outside by lap 40. Crew chief Mike Bumgarner also called for systematic adjustments to help wrestle in the car’s handling. The gradual progression saw Sweet rebound from a mid-race spin and climb back to ninth by the lap-153 restart. Once the field took the green flag, Sweet made a pass on the No. 31 of Justin Allgaier. Allgaier then proceeded to made contact with the rear bumper of Sweet’s machine, sending the 5 hard into the outside wall. The team went to the garage for repairs and their hard work put Sweet back on the track. He finished 31st.
Brad Sweet, driver No. 5 Great Clips team
“We tried to stay with the adjustments tonight. It was tough though. The car was tight for most of the night. After we spun out, we just kept after it. I think the incident with Allgaier could have been avoided. I made a little contact when I passed him but we both still had control. He just stayed glued to my bumper after that and put us in the wall. It’s a bad deal for our Great Clips team. Those guys work really hard and we deserved a better finish tonight.”
Starting Position: 7th
Finishing Position: 31st