Brad Sweet and the NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 team raced three nights in the Keystone State last week, starting with the first return of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series to BAPS Motor Speedway in York, Pennsylvania, in 31 years. Sweet scored a runner-up finish there before securing another second-place result on Friday and finishing eighth on Saturday at Williams Grove Speedway. The weekend put him tied in points in the Outlaws driver standings, with the tiebreaker favoring competitor David Gravel.
The highly anticipated return to BAPS on Wednesday was thwarted by rain, pushing the race to Thursday night. In qualifying, Sweet his the speed charts at 15.095 seconds, placing him second overall and first to start in his heat race. Throughout the intense heat race action, the NAPA No. 49 proved dominant, quickly claiming the lead and establishing a gap to second-place runner Gio Scelzi. Crossing the line in first sent Sweet to the Fast Pass Dash, where he drew the pole position.
In the dash, the four-time and defending World of Outlaws champion again quickly claimed the lead and expanded his distance from the field. Sweet took the checkered flag on the dash to earn the pole on the 30-lap main event. Racing head-to-head with the best sprint car drivers in the sport, the Big Cat held the lead early but later fell to second, where he ultimately finished.
Moving on to Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, on Friday, Sweet looked to defend his Summer Nationals title. During qualifying, the NAPA driver demonstrated his mettle by securing a fifth-place overall time of 17.462 seconds. The stage was set for an action-packed evening filled with edge-of-the-seat excitement.
In his heat race, Sweet started from second and clinched a second-place finish, fueling the anticipation for the upcoming Fast Pass Dash. In the dash draw, the Big Cat selected the starting spot on the outside of the front row. When the six-lap race to set the top starting spots on the evening’s main event went green, Sweet took the lead and ultimately the dash win.
The spotlight was firmly on the NAPA driver with the pole position when the feature race commenced. Sweet battled fiercely as the laps wound down, never ceding the top spot. As the No. 49 machine finally approached the checkered flag, Sweet jumped the cushion in Turn 4, packing his wheel with mud. Driving off the final turn, he couldn’t gain enough speed, and second-place runner Logan Schuchart overtook to win by half a car length at the finish line. It was a tough result, but the No. 49 team looked ahead to the next event.
Saturday offered Sweet and the NAPA team another opportunity to improve one position on the previous two finishes. Right from the onset, Sweet left his mark by dominating the qualifying rounds, placing first overall with a time of 17.633 seconds and marking his 70th career Quick Time award. Setting the stage in qualifying, Sweet went on to win his heat race from the pole and secure his spot in the dash.
Drawing the eighth starting position, Sweet embraced the challenge. He made his best attempts to move forward through the competition, but with such long straightaways at Williams Grove, was able to pick up just one spot to finish seventh. Despite a seventh-place starting spot and fierce competition in Saturday’s feature, the tenacious NAPA driver stayed in the tightly contested battle to the end, crossing the line in the eighth position.
Start / Finish:
Thursday, July 20, BAPS Motor Speedway: 1 / 2
Friday, July 21, Williams Grove Speedway: 1 / 2
Saturday, July 22, Williams Grove Speedway: 7 / 8
Points Standing / Total: 2nd / 5,772 pts. (tied)
Next Race: Saturday, July 29, Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport, NY
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.