Entering this weekend’s two-night event at I-55 Raceway, Brad Sweet and the No. 49 Kasey Kahne Racing NAPA AUTO PARTS team had been perfect in the state of Missouri in 2021. Sweet, the defending and two-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion had won all five events held in The Show-Me State including sweeping the last two events at I-55.
On Friday night he nearly continued that streak but ultimately came up one spot short by finishing second to Sheldon Haudenschild.
The night started off with Sweet qualifying fifth-fastest around the ¼-mile bullring track with a lap of 10.537 seconds. The No. 49 would go on to win their heat race, which transferred the team into the DIRTVision Fast Past Dash which sets the first four rows of the feature.
By way of random draw, Sweet would start fifth in the dash and after eight quick laps moved up to fourth, where he would start the feature. At the drop of the green flag Sweet quickly moved into third and after a quick caution and restart, he’d move into second where he stalked leader Sheldon Haudenschild for the duration of the event.
With a handful of laps to go, Haudenschild and Sweet had lapped up to seventh-place, and as the two leaders caught more traffic Sweet closed the gap slightly, however it wasn’t enough as the No. 49 KKR team would cross the line in second.
On Saturday night the series returned for the $20,000-to-win, 55-lap Ironman 55.
With a late qualifying draw, Sweet still managed to put down the 10th-fastest lap at 10.645 seconds. A third-place finish in his heat race would not transfer the team to the all-important Fast Pass Dash, starting the NAPA team 10th in the feature.
What a feature it was. immaculate track prep allowed for some great racing throughout the field all night long. Sweet settled into the 11th position when the green dropped, but a restart on lap 11 allowed “The Big Cat” to jump to the low side and pick up two positions as he battled wheel-to-wheel with Logan Schuchart.
Multiple caution flags and restarts helped Sweet inch his way to the front of the field. By lap 34 he had moved up to sixth, and by lap 24 the No. 49 was in the fourth position with a slide-job-for-slide-job battle with team mate James McFadden and David Gravel.
At the completion of lap 55, Sweet had fought his way from 10th to third and increased his point lead to 140 over Carson Macedo with 24 point-paying events remaining in 2021.
This week the team heads to the biggest sprint car event in the World: The Knoxville Nationals in Knoxville, Iowa. A week-long event that doesn’t pay World of Outlaws Championship points, but is the most prestigious event in all of sprint car racing with a cool $150,000 going to the winner of Saturday’s A-Main.
Sweet won the event in 2018.
Friday – I-55 Speedway
Slick Woody’s Qualifying – 5th
Heat race – 2nd/1st
Fast Pass Dash – 5th/4th
Feature – 4th/2nd
Saturday – I-55 Speedway
Slick Woody’s Qualifying – 10th
Heat race – 3rd/3rd
Fast Pass Dash – n/a
Feature – 10th/3rd
Points Standing - 1st - 7,360 points (+140)
Next Race -
Knoxville Nationals, August 11th – 14th
Team Website - www.kaseykahneracing.com
Watch live - www.dirtvision.com