Three nights of racing and eight points separate the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series’ Donny Schatz and Brad Sweet from deciding who will come home with the 2019 series championship.
The tour goes into Charlotte for the World Finals at the Dirt Track this weekend in what has been one of the closest points races in the sport’s history.
Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz will battle for World of Outlaws Title in Charlotte
Sweet, who leads Schatz by four positions on the racetrack, is striving for his first ever series points championship, while Schatz is trying for his 11th.
“We’ve won the Kings Royal and the Knoxville Nationals, the next thing to do would be to win a World of Outlaws championship,” Sweet told WorldofOutlaws.com. “You only get these opportunities so often.”
Schatz has won each of the past five series championships in dominating fashion. He’s been seemingly unstoppable up until this year, when he switched crew chiefs for his No. 15 car.
Although, Schatz wasn’t knocking on the door of 20+ wins, he was still fast. The Tony Stewart Racing guys earned series’ bests with 46 Top-5’s and 63 Top-10’s.
The thing that gave Sweet the upper hand was the run that he went on over the summer to catch up to Schatz and eventually pass him in the points standings.
“We’ve never been in this situation before, this close to [Schatz],” Sweet said to WorldofOutlaws.com. “You never know what next year brings. We just really want to capitalize on the opportunity we have in front of us. It’s never easy to beat a ten-time champ, so we know we have to be perfect.”
Schatz’ team this season is made out of some more-younger members as opposed to No. 15 teams that had more of the same-aged members in the past.
Although it’s a change, Schatz is confident he has what it takes to bring back a title from Charlotte.
“I know what my capabilities in the car are,” Schatz said to WorldofOutlaws.com. “I know what their (TSR’s) capabilities are with the car. That goes beyond confidence. That’s just an expected thing. We take it for granted probably but when you’re around someone enough and you trust them like we do, confidence is a word you have to question because it shifts.”
The Outlaws have raced at The Dirt Track twice this year, both coming in the summer in late May.
During the first night of racing, Sweet ousted Schatz and nearly took home a podium finish while the No. 15 was a few spots back in seventh.
On Saturday night, however, Schatz would lead 11 laps after passing Kraig Kinser for the lead with 14 to go. He was in position to win, but him and Sweet would both blow their right rear tires and settle for finishes outside of the top 10.
In the 70 races the series has hosted this year, the pair of drivers fighting for a title this week have only finished outside of the top 10 in seven of them each.
At Charlotte, Schatz has a big edge.
Stretching back to 2000, Schatz has 12 wins at the Dirt Track. Even assuming most of those years saw a few races at Charlotte a piece, it’s still impressive.
Sweet’s number in his six seasons with the Outlaws? Zero. It’s a pretty glaring discrepancy.
Although, when comparing their finishes during the World Finals weekends since Sweet joined the series, the Kasey Kahne Racing driver outscored Schatz by 12 and 6 points in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
The next two seasons in 2016 and 2017, Schatz scored 36 points better than Sweet in the pair of North Carolina races.
The difference in 2018? Plus eight points for Schatz, just like the difference between the two coming into this weekend.
The World Finals will consist of a night of qualifying on Thursday that sets the lineup for two, final nights of racing for the 2019 season.
Positions on the track are worth the same number of points and we’ll see a champion crowned on Saturday night, one way or the other.
Thursday’s on-track action for qualifying will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET and both racing nights on Friday & Saturday will see opening ceremonies start at 3:45 p.m. ET. All of the action can be found on DirtVision.com and live updates can be seen on @RacingVault on Twitter.
World of Outlaws title full points
World of Outlaws title