BRANDON, S.D. — Sheldon Haudenschild did what few have ever accomplished.
He passed Kyle Larson for the lead and drove away, putting himself on a trajectory to his fourth World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win of the season Saturday night at Huset’s Speedway.
However, with nine laps to go, his apparent victory vanished with a pop. His right-rear tire let go, forcing him to get it replaced and restart 14th with nine laps left.
To his advantage, multiple other drivers suffered the same fate. Those who had yet to blow a tire knew there was a potential inevitability of it occurring on the rubbered track and tried to treat what tread they had left with care. Haudenschild no longer had to.
With a fresh right-rear Hoosier eager to clutch dirt, Haudenschild could run twice as hard as the cars ahead of him.
Between drivers losing tires and Haudenschild able to pass cars like he had double the horsepower, the NOS Energy Drink No. 17 was back on Larson’s bumper in four laps. He had a car capable of passing the Finley Farms No. 57 yet again, however, Larson was forced to make the pass easy on Haudenschild when he blew a tire himself.
With the lead back in his possession, Haudenschild would never relinquish it again.
“I knew to just go around the outside of them (the cars ahead) once I had a fresh tire on, and do it before the 2 (car of Carson Macedo) and the 83 (car of Daryn Pittman) because they were both fresh, too,” said Haudenschild. “Just tried to get in front of them early and also save and try to make some passes there and hope you get the lap in. I don’t know how many times we probably all three passed a bunch of cars and then the lap came back (because of a caution coming out).
“Man, I can’t give it up enough for this NOS Energy Drink team. They’ve been working their asses off. They never give up and tonight was a perfect example of that.”
Larson was the fast qualifier, won his heat and the dash. He started from the pole for the 35-lap feature.
Larson launched around the outside of Jacob Allen to claim the lead on the first lap. Haudenschild used the top lane to his advantage, as well, powering around the outside of Allen through turns one and two and taking second before they reached turn three.
Haudenschild chased Larson and grabbed the lead on lap eight. The race was in Haudenschild’s hand for about the next 20 laps, holding a more than two second lead over Larson.
Signs of their tires failing came to light with 13 laps to go. Daryn Pittman – running in the top-five – was the first to blow a tire. A few laps later, Haudenschild suffered his tire failure, along with Carson Macedo.
Those three became the new class of the field once a new Hoosier sneaker adorned their right rear. They charged their way through the field with Haudenschild leading the pack.
Once Haudenschild brought the battle back to Larson, who was about coasting through the turns to save his tires, Macedo entered the fight, as well. He kept himself within striking distance as Haudenschild and Larson waged war. When Larson’s tire finally gave out and Haudenschild had to throw his car sideways in turn four to avoid hitting him, Macedo pounced and darted by Haudenschild to take the lead.
However, the caution came out before the lap was completed, putting Macedo back behind Haudenschild on the restart.
The race resumed for the final time with five laps to go. Haudenschild did what few have ever accomplished. He successfully rebounded from suffering a flat tire to go from the lead, to the rear and back to the lead, claiming the $10,000 top prize.
Macedo finished in the runner-up spot for the second week in a row and earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after starting the race in 14th.
“Unfortunate there, that last time Kyle blew a tire and I got under Sheldon and got to the line, but it wasn’t quite enough,” said Macedo. “They threw the yellow before that and it ended up reverting back to the last lap and ended up running second. Hats off to Sheldon and his team. Congrats on the win. We just got to do a better job throughout the night. Put ourselves in better positions to start up front in these feature races.”
Pittman rounded out the podium.
“I don’t know how we ended up back here,” said Pittman. “The truth is I don’t think I could have ran any harder anyway because we were a lap away, at most, from popping our second tire. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. We’ll take this third.”
To see full results, turn to the next page.