The track that has paid more than enough dividends for Donny Schatz over the past 15 years was more kind to Brad Sweet during the two-day Brownells Big Guns Bash at Knoxville Raceway the past weekend.
Not only did Sweet capture a victory – his second in three races – he also finished ahead of Schatz during both nights of action at the half-mile in Iowa.
The favorable weekend saw Sweet gain 28 points on Schatz in the race for the title.
Brad Sweet taking command of World of Outlaws points
I know. “It’s not that much.” “There’s still time for Schatz to come back.” “The points don’t matter, the purse isn’t big enough.”
That’s all true, to an extent.
But, this has been a truly remarkable season in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
Sweet’s win was just his fourth of the season – a mark that leads the series.
It exemplifies the parity we’ve seen this year in the first 28 events. Day after day, it’s anyone’s race.
The results have created a situation where we might see someone other than Schatz win the championship for just the second time in 12 years.
The latest example just happened to come Knoxville. At a track where Schatz has done so well in the past, he got beat, albeit not by much.
And, this isn’t an article meant to bash Schatz.
The reason the entire season points championship is looked at like it is, is based on the vast amount of success the No. 15 car has had through the years.
Thanks to Sweet, though, the streak is in jeopardy.
The No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts car continues to spend time out front week after week and is rolling with two wins in the past three races as well as seven straight top five finishes.
He has been undeniable, as of late, and it’s earned him a spot at the top of the series.
Now, as the Outlaws head to Beaver Dam on Saturday, Sweet tries to return to victory lane once again.
Sweet last won there in 2014, capturing the Jim Boyd Memorial that will pay out $20,000 to win, as opposed to the regular 10K mark.
For what it’s worth, Schatz’ last win at the track came the next season, in 2015.
The pair will go to battle with Daryn Pittman – who might be the most decorated driver the series has seen since it began going to Beaver Dam in 1996.
Not only does Pittman own the track record, but he also holds the World of Outlaws record for wins there, capturing four stretching from 2003 to his victory last season at Beaver Dam.
A favorable result couldn’t come at a better time for the newly-made driver of the No. 83 Roth Motorsports car.
After four straight races of finishes outside of the top 10, Pittman has seemed to found something again.
Two weeks ago at Granite City, he came home fourth to break the streak of poor outings. He followed it up last week with two top-three finishes on track that he described as one of his worst.
Oh yeah, and he sits third in points, just 134 points back of Sweet in the lead.
The 83 is definitely a safe bet to place for Saturday.
Sunday, however, it could quite literally be anyone.
The series heads to another track where it’s never been before, this time at the Dubuque Speedway in Iowa. It will be the third track that the Outlaws visit this season, joining Nashville and Bridgeport.
Dubuque is a 3/8-mile, semi-banked track with long straightaways that cast a big shadow on the facility.
Though it’s anyone’s race being the series’ first time at the track, the only driver to win multiple events on a 3/8th’s track this year: once again, it’s Brad Sweet.
Racing on both nights (Saturday and Sunday) will start with hot laps at 6:30 p.m. CT. Live updates can be found on Twitter at The Racing Vault.
|World of Outlaws Sprint Car Standings|