A nine-race losing streak was more than enough for Brad Sweet.
The two-time and defending World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion ended his month-long dry spell in exciting fashion with a Thursday night triumph at 34 Raceway.
It was fitting that Sweet’s return to victory lane came at the cost of Carson Macedo, who was going for his third-straight victory as the hottest driver on the tour. That’s a title that The Big Cat takes pride in, especially with a summer loaded full of crown jewel shows around the corner.
Leading 10 laps and out-running Macedo’s Jason Johnson Racing #41 through lap traffic, Sweet’s win gave his Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 a total of ten victories on the season.
“We’ve been through some adversity this last month,” Sweet said in his first victory lane trip since May 12 at Lincoln (PA). “At the beginning of the year it was like nothing could go wrong, but man lately everything has been going wrong; but, that’s racing. You have to keep a positive mindset, and I think we have. This was big to build our confidence with all these big money races coming. Our focus is these next 10 days right now.”
Starting Thursday’s 30-lapper from the inside of row two, Sweet’s path to the win was far from easy at the West Burlington, IA oval.
Macedo, who won the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash to claim the pole position, was fresh off a weekend sweep at Knoxville Raceway and feeling good with a third triumph on the line. The Lemoore, CA native paced the opening 16 laps and survived some hefty challenges from Sheldon Haudenschild, but never let the lead slip away until Sweet soared to command on Lap 17.
The Big Cat pounced in lap traffic, but 25-year-old Macedo showed the prowess of a veteran and rallied back to re-take the top spot on Lap 18. He held control for another four laps until Sweet snookered him for good and pointed the #49 to P1 on the 23rd circuit.
Halted only by a Lap 10 restart, the race ensued to run to the checkered flag with Sweet storming off to a 2.195-second advantage over Macedo.
Thursday’s score at the Iowa facility gave the Grass Valley, CA native his 68th career World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series victory, placing him only 16 away from reaching the top-10 on the all-time wins list.
“Sometimes it’s better to be running second, but honestly I was disappointed with myself when I got him and he passed me back,” Sweet admitted. “I really had to get my elbows up to work around him the second time. You have to keep your composure more than anything, that’s what wins these races.”
Over the final nine laps, Macedo survived additional challenges from Haudenschild and then David Gravel for the second spot. It came down to the final corner, but Macedo did edge out Gravel by 0.086-seconds for the runner-up position.
“The lappers were just so tough to get by, and that hurt us,” Macedo mentioned. “Brad did a great job with that one. I got him back there for a minute, but he went right by again when I made the same mistake. It stings, but man every time I hit the track in this #41 car right now I’m super comfortable. Excited for this bust stretch.”
In the third and final podium position was championship contender David Gravel aboard the Big Game Motorsports #2.
“We had a good car, just needed a couple of corners to go different and it could’ve been interesting,” Gravel added.”
Both Kerry Madsen in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #14 and Giovanni Scelzi in the KCP Racing #18 added their third-consecutive top-five finish with runs of fourth and fifth, respectively.
Rounding out the top-10 at 34 Raceway was Aaron Reutzel’s Roth Motorsports #83, James McFadden‘s Kasey Kahne Racing #9, Sheldon Haudenschild’s Stenhouse Jr. / Marshall Racing #17, Donny Schatz‘s Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15, and Brian Brown’s FVP, Casey’s General Stores #21.
Madsen took Thursday’s Slick Woody’s Cornhole Company QuickTime Award with a lap of 12.888 seconds around the 1/3-mile oval. Team Drydene Heat Race wins went to Madsen, Gravel and Macedo. A brief 40-minute rain delay halted the program following Heat Races as well.
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series keeps the weekend alive with the first-ever visit to Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway on Friday, June 18, followed by a return to Wisconsin’s Beaver Dam Raceway on Saturday, June 19.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps): 1. 49-Brad Sweet [$10,000]; 2. 41-Carson Macedo [$6,000]; 3. 2-David Gravel [$3,500]; 4. 14-Kerry Madsen [$2,800]; 5. 18-Giovanni Scelzi [$2,500]; 6. 83-Aaron Reutzel [$2,300]; 7. 9-James McFadden [$2,200]; 8. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$2,100]; 9. 15-Donny Schatz [$2,050]; 10. 21-Brian Brown [$2,000]; 11. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$1,600]; 12. 19-Brent Marks [$1,400]; 13. 1A-Jacob Allen [$1,200]; 14. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$1,100]; 15. 3-Ayrton Gennetten [$1,050]; 16. 2C-Wayne Johnson [$1,000]; 17. 7S-Jason Sides [$1,000]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno [$1,000]; 19. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$1,000]; 20. 15M-Bobby Mincer [$1,000]; 21. 44-Chris Martin [$1,000]; 22. 7TAZ-Tasker Phillips [$1,000]; 23. 49J-Josh Schneiderman [$1,000]; 24. 20G-Noah Gass [$1,000]. Lap Leaders: Carson Macedo 1-16, 18-21; Brad Sweet 17, 22-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 19-Brent Marks[+6]
NEW Championship Standings (31/81 Races): 1. Brad Sweet (4,338); 2. David Gravel (-54); 3. Carson Macedo (-64); 4. Donny Schatz (-152); 5. Sheldon Haudenschild (-154); 6. Logan Schuchart (-188); 7. Aaron Reutzel (-220); 8. Kraig Kinser (-514); 9. James McFadden (-578); 10. Brock Zearfoss (-704).