After a string of up-and-down finishes, Brad Sweet and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Kasey Kahne Racing (KKR) team put together a strong weekend as the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series traveled to North Dakota.
Sweet and the No. 49 team knew that they needed to start the weekend on the right foot as they unloaded at River Cities Speedway on Friday. When they rolled out for qualifying, the NAPA AUTO PARTS car was scored third quick with a lap time of 10.129 seconds, lining him up on the pole for the ten-lap heat race. Losing the lead early on, Sweet was able to recapture the top spot and win after a three-wide battle for the lead through multiple cautions. After starting second in the Fast Pass Dash, Sweet suffered a mechanical issue that took him out of the race, resulting in a sixth-place starting position in the Feature.
When the green flag flew, Sweet picked up two spots, putting him fourth when the first caution flag came out. On lap 11, a lapped car spun in front of Sweet, sending him into the outside wall and causing damage to the front of the No. 49. The team quickly made repairs in the work area and sent the car back on track. Sweet was forced to start at the rear of the field but worked his way up to 11th by the halfway point. He continued to drive through traffic until the checkered flag flew, earning a hard-fought top-five finish.
Teams packed up and headed to Red River Valley Speedway for Saturday’s 30-lap feature. The NAPA AUTO PARTS car looked fast from the get-go, posting the second quickest lap time during qualifying. Sweet started from the pole in his heat race; he captured the lead on the start and never looked back. After the random draw, the No. 49 lined up sixth for the Fast Pass Dash. By gaining one spot throughout the Dash, Sweet would line up fifth for Saturday’s Feature.
When the race went green, Sweet followed in his brother-in-law Kyle Larson’s tracks until the pair ran in the second and third positions. Sweet was able to complete the pass on Larson for second on lap eight, and shortly after a three-car battle for the lead ensued. With 13 laps to go, Larson was held up by a slowed car. Sweet pounced on the opportunity to take the lead. The two battled lapped cars, but Sweet was able to maneuver traffic more gracefully. With ten to go and Sweet in the lead, a caution came out. Sweet got a great jump on the restart and continued in the top spot, but it didn’t take Larson long to catch him. Despite Sweet taking away the preferred line, Larson made the pass for the lead with seven laps remaining and never looked back. Sweet and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team closed out the weekend with a second-place finish.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed we finished second,” Sweet said after the race. “I thought that I had a better car through lapped traffic and being able to change lanes. I got the lead with ten to go and made a misjudgment on my end. I thought I needed to be on the bottom. I needed to react a little quicker to get to the top. Once Kyle got around me, I was ready to change my line then. Just a split second too late.”
While the KKR team sought a win, they made great strides over the weekend with a podium and top-five finish. Sweet remains second in Championship Point Standings, only eight points behind the leader, Logan Schuchart. The No. 49 team has two races on tap this week as they race at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Missouri, on Friday and Greenwood, Nebraska’s I-80 Speedway on Saturday.
Start / Finish:
Friday, Aug. 21: 6 / 5
Saturday, Aug. 22: 5 / 2
Points Standing / Total: 2nd / 4540 pts. (-8)
Next Race: Aug. 29, US 36 Raceway, Osborn, MO; Aug. 30, I-80 Speedway, Greenwood, NE
How to Watch or Listen: www.dirtvision.com
Kasey Kahne Racing (KKR) is based in Mooresville, NC, and was formed in 2005 by NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne. Since the team’s inception, KKR has amassed over 190 wins and two World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championships, including the 2019 championship with Brad Sweet, driver of the No. 49 NAPA AUTO PARTS sprint car.