Sweet victory: Brad Sweet snaps 31-race Outlaws winless streak at Williams Grove
It took 53 attempts at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Penn., but Brad Sweet finally won a World of Outlaws race on the troublesome track and snapped a 31-race winless streak that stretches back to Week 11 in Vado, N.M.
“It’s been a tough season and there have honestly been many times where I’ve wanted to quit,” Sweet said from Victory Lane in a release. “You know it’s been a weird year when we’re at the Summer Nationals with my second win and it’s Williams Grove of all places. I feel so bad for this team at times. They work so hard and became used to getting results, but we’ve faced a ton of adversity this year. It’s nice to feel that winning emotion again and give them what they deserve.”
One might say that he has already given the team what they deserve. The Kasey Kahne-owned No. 49 leads the points by 54 over David Gravel - and he’s done so by scoring 23 top-fives and 35 top-10s through 43 races in a highly competitive field that has seen 15 drivers take the checkers. Sweet is chasing his fourth consecutive World of Outlaws victory.
Taking the lead on Lap 28 from Sheldon Haudenschild in the 30-lap affair, he had a long time to worry about another race that might slip away.
A mid-race crash involving Kyle Larson, who was on hand before heading to Pocono Raceway for Sunday’s Cup race, allowed Sweet to reset. Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 18, collecting Larson and Anthony Macri. Larson won his 28th Outlaws race two nights earlier at Port Royal.
“This has been a long time coming,” Sweet said. “Winning here is such a relief. Nobody can say that I didn’t conquer this place, and damn it was a great race. It was technical, racey and wide, and I had to earn that one. We’re going to celebrate this one pretty good tonight.”
Building special cars is nothing new to NASCAR or IndyCar drivers, but in a series that races more than 75 times most seasons, it’s rare for sprints. But that is what Kahne-led team did. Assembling the car from a notebook they have compiled for several years, Sweet’s car debuted well with a fourth-place finish Friday night at Williams Grove with the Outlaws on this same track.
“You have to have a great car under you,” Sweet said. “My driving habits don’t work at this place, we had to build a completely different car to come to this track. It’s going into the rafters and it won’t come back out until the National Open [in October]. I can tell you it takes a lot of hard work to beat guys like Lance [Dewease], Danny [Dietrich], Brent [Marks], Anthony [Macri] and all the locals here. We’ve been working on this Williams Grove setup for a long, long time.”
Sweet’s 76th victory renews hope that he can catch Stevie Smith for possession of 10th on the all-time Outlaws winners’ list before the 2022 season is over.
After losing the lead, Haudenschild also succumbed to the efforts of Pennsylvania Posse member Dietrich, who closed to within .339-seconds of the leader and pulled alongside Sweet in the closing laps.
Haudenschild, in a car owned by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Richard Marshall, held on for third-place with Donny Schatz finishing fourth.
Another member of the Pennsylvania Posse, Freddie Rahmer rounded out the top five and won $4,500, which helped offset the $300 dollars he and his father each incurred for a fight in the pits involving Dietrich.
Also of note: Schatz’s top-five finish came in his 2,000th start. He joins Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell as the only drivers to hit that mark.