Last weekend, Brad Sweet added his name to another list of the most successful sprint car drivers in the history of the sport when the driver of the NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 scored a podium finish Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana. The four-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion is now 10th on the list of all-time podium finishes in the series, with 265 finishes in the top three.
The weekend of racing started for Sweet and the No. 49 team at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill., with 42 cars in attendance at the 3/8-mile track. Sweet was slated to qualify 16th, and the NAPA driver hit the charts at 12.301 seconds, placing him eighth in Flight A and fourth to start in Heat Race 2. With eight laps in the heat race, the Big Cat needed to gain at least two spots to lock himself into the Fast Pass Dash. With competitors lined up side by side, the green flag dropped, and Sweet wedged his way into third in the first corner. In just the next corner, Sweet claimed second and held his line while creating a gap between himself and third-place runner Rico Abreu. Sweet crossed the line in second, securing his spot in the dash.
“Obviously, the 6 isn’t the best I could have drawn there, but we’ll give Sheldon (Haudenschild) the front row and see if we can’t track him down,” Sweet said after drawing the final starting spot for the dash. “Our NAPA Auto Parts car felt good in the heat; the track is kind of widening out.”
After lining up in pairs, the field took the green flag on the dash. Cars bunched up on the start, but Sweet managed to sneak through to fourth on the first lap, holding the position until the checkered flag flew. The finish put the NAPA driver fourth to start the 30-lap feature.
Cars again lined up side by side, this time for the main event. When the caution lights went out and the green flag dropped, Sweet maneuvered from top to bottom to advance to the third position. While the No. 49 ran dominantly back in the top lane, a late-race caution came out. With seven laps to go, the field went back green, but Sweet struggled, spinning his tires and falling back to fifth, where he ultimately finished.
On Saturday, the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 team made the three-hour trip to Haubstadt, Indiana. After a brief rain shower at the beginning of the night, the night’s event at Tri-State Speedway got underway with 37 cars in attendance. Sweet was scheduled to qualify ninth and laid down a lap time of 12.432 seconds, good for sixth overall. This slated the NAPA No. 49 to start second in Heat Race 2. After taking the green flag, the Big Cat ripped the top and claimed the lead. Showing the way around the 1/4-mile bullring, the NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 took the heat race win, transferring Sweet to the Fast Pass Dash.
Sweet drew the fourth starting spot for the 8-lap dash. The NAPA driver tested multiple lines but struggled to find one that suited him. Unable to advance, he crossed the line in fourth, placing him fourth to start the feature.
With 40 laps to contest around the high-banked Haubstadt bullring, drivers lined up in pairs before the green flag dropped. Running the top, the leaders quickly caught the tail of the field. Sweet made a pass for third while maneuvering through heavy traffic. After several cautions, the Big Cat brought the NAPA No. 49 home in third place. Sweet’s podium finish officially placed him 10th on the World of Outlaws all-time podium list, with 265 podiums, 165 of which came with crew chief Eric Prutzman.
Before the weekend’s racing commenced for Sweet and the NAPA No. 49 team, the driver and his crew made an appearance at McKay NAPA Auto Parts Group in Litchfield, Ill. Sprint car fans enjoyed lunch and had an opportunity to interact with Sweet and the No. 49 car at the event, which also hosted 45 eighth-grade students from Litchfield Middle School. Before going to learn about distribution center operations, the students had a chance to speak with Sweet and have the NAPA driver sign hero cards for them.
Start / Finish:
Friday, April 28, Tri-City Speedway: 4 / 5
Saturday, April 29, Tri-State Speedway: 4 / 3
Points Standing / Total: 2nd / 2,098 pts. (-12)
Next Race: Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, Eldora Speedway, Rossburg, Ohio
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.