Sprint car racers, enthusiasts and fans gathered last week at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa to witness the exhilarating action of the 62nd Knoxville Nationals, the biggest event on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series calendar. Adding to the high-octane atmosphere, Brad Sweet and the NAPA Auto Parts team arrived sporting a new look; the No. 49 machine wore a unique, two-tone design inspired by Chase Elliott’s 2018 Darlington throwback paint scheme and incorporating the new NAPA slogan, “Get Up & Go.”
During qualifying rounds, Sweet secured an impressive run of second place overall with a lightning-quick lap time of 15.795 seconds. The points-based format of the Knoxville Nationals includes a heat race invert of 8, sending the quickest drivers to the rear of their heat races and setting the stage for a highly entertaining evening. Sweet’s tenacity and strategic brilliance was highlighted in his heat race. The four-time and defending Outlaws champion started from eighth, swiftly maneuvered through the pack and finished fourth. His performance solidified his spot in the feature race and previewed what was likely to be an action-packed showdown.
As the feature unfolded, so did the high-speed drama. After starting from eighth, Sweet showcased his skill in navigating the competition. Fate had other plans, however, as an unexpected twist struck the No. 49 team late in the race. A right-rear tire explosion caused Sweet to lose control and ultimately flip the No. 49 machine, ending his night early. Despite the misfortune, Sweet knew he and the NAPA team needed to seek redemption. They’d get their chance. A solid charge earlier in the evening was enough to place Sweet 16th in points, the final spot locked in to a spot in Saturday night’s A-main event.
With Knoxville Raceway sold out for Saturday night, the atmosphere was electric as fans gathered to witness the 62nd Knoxville Nationals. Sweet faced a challenge of battling through a competitive field of drivers after starting from the 16th position. Sweet again demonstrated his focus and skill, steadily climbing the ranks while navigating the half-mile oval. By the halfway point, the Big Cat had raced up to the eighth spot. The intensity only heightened as the laps ticked away, and Sweet continued to push the limits. When the checkered flag waved, Sweet secured in impressive sixth-place finish, a remarkable ten positions ahead of his starting spot.
Start / Finish:
Thursday, Aug. 10: 8 / 21
Saturday, Aug. 12: 16 / 6
Points Standing / Total: 1st / 6,202 pts. (+14)
Next Race: Thursday, Aug. 17, Jackson Nationals, Jackson Motorplex, Jackson, MN
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.