David Gravel swept first two World of Outlaws Sprint Car races in doubleheader
David Gravel swept the World of Outlaws opening day with a pair of wins in a Friday day/night doubleheader at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to close to within six victories of 10th on the all-time wins list.
Originally scheduled for one day earlier on Thursday, the Outlaws sprints took the checkered flag only to witness rain rolling in as they hit the backstretch.
“I really wanted to race last night after how good our car was in the Dash, but I obviously can’t complain now,” Gravel said in a press release. “You never know when you race early in the day like this, so I was a bit anxious about how it would play out. It’s tough on the equipment being wide open like that, but Brian Morrison builds us a great engine.”
Starting fourth in the first feature of the day, Gravel quickly moved forward and took the lead from Anthony Macri on Lap 11. The final 15 laps were a breeze for Gravel - the good kind now, not one filled with rain. He finished ahead of Michael “Buddy” Kofoid to take the early points’ lead in the 2023 Outlaws campaign.
Any concerns Gravel may have had about the engine lasting for two races were quickly put aside. Seven hours later, after sitting through another long rain delay, Gravel was once again in Victory Lane.
Gravel beat Kofoid in both events, but in Race 2 he was forced to take a new line to avoid bumps created by excessive wear,
“It was weird,” Gravel said about his pass for the lead. “I felt like something suddenly changed because the bottom was the place to be on that long green flag run, but the top - which felt like crap before - was amazing on the restart. I don’t know if it was tire temperature or maybe even moisture from the fog, but it worked out great. I think that rough stuff was just enough to upset the car and it bit Buddy when he went to the bottom.”
By the numbers, Gravel’s win was memorable. His 78th win brings him to within one of tying Brad Sweet for 11th on the all-time list. With five more during the season, they will catch Stevie Smith for 10th.
Gravel is now the second driver to win three consecutive races at Volusia (along with Steve Kinser in 2010-11), the sixth driver to win a pair of races in one day and the seventh to start a season with back-to-back wins.
Finishing second in both races may have put Kofoid in a great position to run for the title in his first season of full-time racing with the Outlaws, but it was still a bitter pill to swallow.
“This one obviously stings a bit more having actually led the race, but overall this is a really great result,” Kofoid said. “I have to keep reminding myself that I’m brand new to this place, our team is still relatively young, and yet we’re competing for World of Outlaws wins. I hope we can get tomorrow in to have another shot at winning of those Gators, (the Volusia trophy).”
Danny Dietrich rounded out the podium in Race 1 with Logan Schuhart taking third in the second race.
Last year’s Outlaws Sprint Car champion, Brad Sweet finished 19th in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. He is now ninth in the standings, 48 points out of first, but with more than 80 races still to be run in 2023, there is a lot of time to make that up. And he has an opportunity to claw back some of that ground Saturday night as the series remains at Volusia for the third night of the three-race stand.