When Brad Sweet landed in Washington to take on his World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series competitors at the Skagit Nationals, the reigning series champion had his sights set on victory. The driver of the NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 appeared close to that goal on the first of three nights at Skagit Speedway, but Sweet would have to wait. The second night of racing only hardened his determination, and on the third and final night, the Big Cat achieved it. Sweet earned the Skagit Nationals win and the $26,000 purse that accompanies it.
In Thursday qualifying, Sweet hit the speed charts with a lap time of 11.066 seconds, placing him fourth overall. Lining up first in his heat race, the NAPA No. 49 machine encountered slick track conditions early in the race. Sweet did his best to manage the slick track and finished second, punching his ticket to the Fast Pass Dash. He then drew the sixth starting position for the six-lap dash.
The Big Cat quickly charged ahead two positions to finish fourth in the dash, earning a strong, fourth-place start in Thursday’s 30-lap main event. Drivers lined up side by side for the start, and at the drop of the green flag, Sweet wasted no time. He jumped down low and gained on the third-place competitor, then after the first few laps, took the spot. Showing his skills as a four-time champion, Sweet then took over the second spot and began chasing down the leader. On lap 19, he made the pass for the lead. The NAPA driver was aggressively dominant in maneuvering traffic up to the drop of the white flag. On the final lap, Sweet dove down low and was held up by a slower car. The second-place competitor was able to make the pass, and the NAPA No. 49 came home in second.
On Friday night, track conditions were wholly different. With less moisture in the surface, the track changed quickly during qualifying rounds. As the second-to-last car to make a qualifying run, Sweet posted a lap of 12.676 seconds, placing 25th overall. The NAPA team needed to dig themselves out of a hold to lock into Friday’s big show.
At the start of his heat race, Sweet had a rocket. He quickly advanced the NAPA No. 49 from seventh to third, where he ultimately finished. That was a spot short of making the dash but still locked Sweet into the feature. After some track prep, Sweet lined up ninth to start the feature. The green flag dropped, and Sweet did his best to navigate the quickly changing track surface. When the NAPA driver finished tenth in the feature, the team knew they’d need redemption on the final night of the Skagit Nationals.
Sweet was determined to reverse his fortunes. During Saturday qualifying, Sweet laid down a lap time of 11.755 seconds, placing eighth overall. The NAPA No. 49 lined up second for heat race action and secured a second-place finish, locking into the Fast Pass Dash. Sweet then drew the fifth starting position for the dash and had six laps to advance for a better starting spot in the main event.
At the start of the dash, the NAPA No. 49 quickly climbed from fifth to third. Sweet lined the NAPA machine up in third to start the feature and immediately charged toward the front when the green flag waved. The Big Cat took the lead on lap 8 and never looked back. When the checkered flag dropped, Sweet clinched the Skagit Nationals victory, his seventh win of the 2023 season.
The holiday weekend was not over yet for the No. 49 team. On Labor Day, the team arrived at Grays Harbor Raceway for the Labor Day Extravaganza. The evening began with Sweet posting the fourth-quickest time overall in qualifying and placing second in his heat race for a spot in the dash. The NAPA driver drew the second starting spot for the six-lap dash and maintained his high level of performance to hold the spot to the finish. Lining up second for the Grays Harbor Raceway feature, Sweet was part of what proved to be a thrilling battle. He initially contended for the lead but fell from second to fourth after a caution was displayed. Among fierce competition, Sweet showed his unwavering determination through ever-changing track conditions and held the fourth spot to the finish.
Start / Finish:
Thursday, Aug. 31, Skagit Speedway: 4 / 2
Friday, Sept. 1, Skagit Speedway: 9 / 10
Saturday, Sept. 2, Skagit Speedway: 3 / 1
Monday, Sept. 4, Grays Harbor Raceway: 2 / 4
Points Standing / Total: 1st / 7,364
Next Race: Thursday, Sept. 7, Silver Dollar Speedway, Chico, CA
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.