Four Straight For Brad Sweet

Brad Sweet en route to victory Saturday at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55. (Mark Funderburk photo)
Brad Sweet en route to victory Saturday at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55. (Mark Funderburk photo)

PEVELY, Mo. — Brad Sweet led all 40 laps of Saturday night’s NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series feature at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 to earn his fourth consecutive victory with the series.

It was his fifth win of the year through 11 races aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb No. 49.

The two-time and defending series champion still has an underdog-like mentality and it’s driving him to victory lane on a nightly basis.

“I feel like everyone still kind of thinks of us as the underdog, so maybe they’ll give us some credit now,” Sweet said. “We feel really good right now. Winning give you more confidence. I’m in a good place as a race car driver, the car is handling great, and this crew is doing an amazing job. We came from ninth last night and did it from the pole tonight, so we’ve won from both spectrums.”

Earning the pole following his win in the dash, the odds were already stacked against Sweet, as no polesitter had won all year with the World of Outlaws. He and the KKR No. 49 crew were motivated to snap that streak and extend their own, though.

The Grass Valley, Calif., native led the opening lap and never relinquished command, extending another streak to 62 consecutive feature laps led. His Saturday night sweep wasn’t without challenge, though, as Gio Scelzi and Sheldon Haudenschild challenged.

Scelzi had a shot through the opening stages and got close on Lap nine with the aid of lap traffic, but the savviness of Sweet’s finesse though the back markers was too much to bare. When Scelzi faltered, Haudenschild rose to second and came within six-tenths of Sweet, but again his moves in traffic separated himself from the rest.

A lap-25 red flag for Tucker Klaasmeyer was the only stoppage of the race and set up a double-file restart, but it could do no harm in slowing Sweet’s roll.

He cruised around the cushion just inches off the wall and then dipped low, slid through the middle, and made all the right moves through the last 15 laps to run off with a victory by 1.937 seconds. It was the 63rd of his World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series career.

“We were off at the end last night, but tonight we made a small change and it was much better,” Sweet noted on his setup. “I felt like I had more grip and could move around in traffic with more ease. That’s the key to winning these; even when you win, you have to come back better the next night. It’s been through 11 races, but it’s an 83-race schedule. We want to enjoy these, but our heads are down and we’re looking to win a lot more of these.”

Extending his own record streak, Haudenschild finished second to earn a career-best seventh-straight top-five finish in his Stenhouse Jr. Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink No. 17.

“Brad was just on top of this weekend,” Haudenschild said. “They’re the guys to beat right now and we’re chasing them as hard we can. The car was really good, but we’ll keep working on it to try and get better. We’ve got some good tracks coming up, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Rounding out the podium with his second top-three finish of the year was Gio Scelzi in the KCP Racing No. 18.

“I ran as hard as I could for 40 laps,” Scelzi said. “He just makes such good moves through traffic, he’s hard to keep up with. We were a third-place car and a third-place driver tonight. It’s honestly relieving though. We were good in qualifying, good in the heat, and good in the feature. Feels like forever since I’ve been here on the podium at Volusia.”

Logan Schuchart and James McFadden rounded out the top five.

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