Brad Sweet and the NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 team concluded a remarkable four-day run at the highly anticipated Huset’s High Bank Nationals, where Sweet went head-to-head with top competitors of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. The event held at the iconic Huset’s Speedway from June 21st to 24th proved demanding for Sweet, but the four-time and defending Outlaws champion maintained the points lead in the end.
The High Bank Nationals kicked off Wednesday with 54 competitors in attendance. Sweet lined up 30th to qualify and laid down a lap time of 11.100 seconds, placing him 32nd overall and first to start Heat Race 2. In his heat race, the NAPA driver fought hard for the win and earned 100 points, but it wasn’t enough to automatically advance him to the A-main. The Big Cat then lined up eighth in the Last Chance Showdown, which gave the top four finishers a spot in the feature. After a precise drive, the NAPA No. 49 picked up the final transfer spot on the last lap of the B-main.
With the field lined up in pairs, Sweet started from 24th for a shot at a $20,000 pay day. The green flag dropped on the 35-lap race, and the NAPA machine began to advance thanks to Sweet’s strategic moves and exceptional skill. He ultimately finished 16th, and with the points system, would have an opportunity to dismiss one of his three qualifying nights.
On Thursday, the NAPA team was looking for a fresh start. Sweet was slated to qualify 31st and determined to improve on Wednesday’s performance. He hit the charts at 11.033 seconds, placing him 12th overall and fifth to start in Heat Race 6. Sweet knew he needed to pass some cars for additional racing points, and when the race went green, the No. 49 pushed its way through the pack. The Big Cat claimed a third-place finish and was entered into the Feature Redraw, pulling the sixth starting spot for the main event.
With the same, 35-lap and $20,000-to-win format, the feature went green. Although track conditions proved challenging and the competition was tough, Sweet crossed the line in eighth.
Friday marked the final qualifying night for the Huset’s High Bank Nationals, and Sweet hoped to build on his momentum from the previous night. Running 27th in the qualifying order, the NAPA driver clocked a 11.386-second lap, good enough for 12th overall and placing him fifth in Heat Race 6. The team again had its work cut out.
In the heat race, Sweet surged ahead and claimed second place before the checkered flag dropped, collecting valuable points. During the redraw, however, Sweet again drew the eighth spot. Undeterred, the Big Cat worked his way through the high banks and into fourth place at the finish. This set the stage for Saturday, with the NAPA No. 49 team now fifth overall in points.
Saturday was the night all the competitors were looking forward to. A purse of $250,000 was on the line, the biggest payday in World of Outlaws Sprint Car racing history. The points system had the qualifiers already lined up, with Sweet starting first in the third qualifier. Sweet took off and claimed the early lead on the start, but a part failure struck. A broken U-joint led to Sweet scored in seventh at the finish. The team changed rear ends and a drive line to put the No. 49 back in action.
Sweet lined up first for the Last Chance Showdown, and the top four finishers would head to the feature. When the race went green, Sweet moved around the track to get a feel for the surface before second-place runner Tyler Courtney was able to make a pass for the lead. The No. 49 crossed the line in second and earned the 22nd starting spot in the A-main. With 40 laps to showcase his resilience and determination, Sweet pushed himself and the No. 49 machine to the limits. He narrowly missed out on the top spot but delivered a commendable performance, advancing to seventh at the finish.
Sweet left Huset’s with a 10 point advantage in the championship point standings.
Start / Finish:
Wednesday, June 21: 24 / 16
Thursday, June 22: 6 / 8
Friday, June 23: 8 / 4
Saturday, June 24: 22 / 7
Points Standing / Total: 1st / 4,556 pts. (+10)
Next Race: Friday, June 30, Cedar Lake Speedway, New Richmond, Wisconsin
How to Watch or Listen: www.dirtvision.com
Kasey Kahne Racing (KKR), located in Mooresville, NC, was formed in 2005 and employs more than ten people dedicated to sprint car racing. The organization fields two entries in the World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series; Brad Sweet (NAPA No.49) and former NASCAR Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne (No.9). Collectively, KKR has 5 World of Outlaws Championships (Daryn Pittman in '13 and Brad Sweet in '19,'20,'21 &'22). Since the team's inception, KKR has amassed over 211 World of Outlaws wins.