Brad Sweet strikes at shootout in Tucson
Tames windy conditions for second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car victory of season
Brad Sweet drove to victory in the NAPA Auto Parts Wildcat Shootout presented by RideNow Powersports on Saturday night at Tucson International Raceway for his second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series win of 2014.
Sweet surged into the lead past Kerry Madsen on the fourth lap of the 25-lap main event at the 3/8-mile dirt oval. Madsen held on for second while Steve Kinser was third for his fourth consecutive podium finish during his "Salute to the King" tour. Past champions Daryn Pittman and Donny Schatz rounded out the top five.
High winds that developed during the course of the event made it challenging for all of the drivers, forcing Sweet his Kasey Kahne Racing team to adjust to the conditions in order to remain competitive.
Following a special parade lap honoring Steve Kinser, Sweet closed the gap on Madsen during lap three entering turn two and drove the Kasey Kahne Racing machine into turn three and pulled underneath Madsen to complete the slide job on lap four.
Sweet pulled away from the field until the caution flew on lap eight for a car stopped on the outside of turn four. Sweet and the SureTestSupplies.com #49 then shot to the lead and drove away from the rest of the field.
"It's nice to get off to such a good start," said Sweet, of Grass Valley, Calif., who is making his first run at a series championship. "The track was a little tough with that wind, and traffic was a little sketchy tonight too. I knew Kerry [Madsen] was probably going to get the jump with the way the track was with the top a little better. He didn't just get off two too well one time and I was able to get just enough of a run. I knew I was going to be close with the way slide jobs are here, but we had to go for it and I went for it."
Madsen did best to follow suit, and though his American Racing Custom Wheels #29 machine had a gap on third place he could not run down Sweet.
"We had some issues in the dash and the cars were quite hard to control, however, it actually wasn't too bad in the A-main," said Madsen, of St. Marys, N.S.W. native. "I was probably just a little too conservative there and Brad was really aggressive and drove by me. He was driving a much more aggressive line than I was and I'm kind of kicking myself a little bit. It was still a great result. A big hats off to Brad and team, they were very quick there so I'd have to say they deserve that."
The battle moved to third place as Kinser held the position, but had to fend off Pittman and Schatz. On lap nine Schatz was on the rear bumper of Pittman, but was unable to complete the pass. Pittman's car began to come to life then as he caught Kinser on lap 13. For the final 20 laps the three remained in a heated battle, but from one line to the next no one could get past Kinser's Tony Stewart Racing Bad Boy Buggies #11.
A happy 20-time champion, Kinser was joking in victory lane, "It's a little windy and a little chilly," noted Kinser with a smile. He jokingly added, "I try to stay out of it in the wintertime. ... Once we got on the top, the wind wasn't terrible. We just got our car laying over a little bit too much to be able to run so we were just hanging on to where we were, and it was a good thing we started up front. I was tight getting in and I was just slinging the car in and spinning the right rear and when I did it would free the car up and working on [the right rear] a little bit."
Paul McMahan leaves Tucson with a 1-point advantage over Sweet in the championship points. Schatz sits in third position trailing by eight points with Steve Kinser a slim 14 points out of the championship lead.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series invades Thunderbowl Raceway on March 14-15 in Tulare, Calif., as the Spring Break Tour enters California, where it will compete through April 12.
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series
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