BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Defending World of Outlaws champion Brad Sweet has always liked Volusia Speedway Park.
He showed why Wednesday night, as he wormed and squirmed his way through traffic to kick off the DIRTcar Nationals by claiming the 25-lap Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Series of Champions feature.
A second-place finish in his dash put Sweet inside the second row for the start but initially he lost ground, showing fourth behind Cory Eliason, Tim Shaffer, in the Tony Stewart No. 14, and Ian Madsen, when a stalled Sam Hafertepe Jr. drew the initial yellow on lap two.
Sweet lost another spot to James McFadden on the restart. But after that, Sweet started a thrilling march to the front that ended in victory lane.
Eliason was still leading when the front runners caught the tail of the field on lap eight, but he soon lost the lead to Madsen and began a back and forth for second with Sweet.
After swapping the spot a few times, Sweet hit turn three perfectly in his NAPA No. 49 and disposed of both Eliason and Madsen, pulling out to a comfortable lead by lap 15.
“Any time you win, it’s fun,” tipped Sweet. “But I worked hard for this one. I kept searching around and finally found a place that worked and then we started going forward.”
With Sweet safely in front, the crowd turned to watching Kyle Larson, who rode the cushion from 14th to the top five in the late teens, though he ran out of time to challenge for a podium finish.
At the flag, it was Sweet, Madsen, Eliason, Larson, fast-timer McFadden, Shaffer, David Gravel, Sheldon Haudenschild, Brock Zearfoss and Donny Schatz, up from 21st after winning the B main.
“I really struggled in traffic,” summed up Madsen when asked if he was surprised Sweet caught him once he got the lead. “I knew that someone would be there, sooner or later. I think we were actually better than Brad in three and four but never got the chance to take advantage of it.”
“We were good but not good enough” declared Eliason as he exited the Rudeen sprinter. “I ran side by side with Brad for a while, but he kept getting better and I got worse.”
The feature came to a confusing end when two cars flipped in turn one right at the checkers.
Some thought scoring should have reverted to the previous lap and another lap run but the finish stood. Unfortunately for Jason Sides, who had flipped in the same place earlier, one of the cars was his teammate, Shane Stewart.
Brad Sweet, Ian Madsen, Cory Eliason, Kyle Larson, James McFadden, Tim Shaffer, David Gravel, Sheldon Haudenschild, Brock Zearfoss, Donny Schatz, Jacob Allen, Chad Kemenah, Logan Schuchart, Carson Macedo, Danny Dietrich, Kerry Madsen, Daryn Pittman, Shane Stewart, Paul McMahan, Parker Price-Miller, Kraig Kinser, Lucas Wolfe, Brian Brown, Sam Hafertepe Jr.