National Open On Deck For Outlaws At Williams Grove

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The four-wide parade lap prior to Saturday's Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals finale at Williams Grove Speedway. (Julia Johnson photo)
Williams Grove Speedway will host the National Open this weekend featuring the World of Outlaws. (Julia Johnson photo)

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Williams Grove Speedway’s rich history will add a new chapter this weekend with the Pennsylvania track hosting the largest sprint car event of 2020.

When the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returns to the half-mile speedway, Oct. 2-3, for the Champion Racing Oil National Open, $10,000 will be up for grabs on Friday and a staggering $75,000 will be awarded to the winner on Saturday – the largest sprint car winner’s purse of the year.

To win the crown jewel, the stars of the World of Outlaws will have to compete against the local PA Posse and an all-star list of outsiders. However, the Posse has been shutout of a Series win for the last seven races at their tracks by the Outlaws and outsiders.

The two-day event will also play an important role in the World of Outlaws title hunt with only nine races remaining. Five drivers are still in contention for the driver championship and six teams are in contention for the team championship.

Here are the top storylines to follow this weekend:

GRAVEL AT HOME IN PA: David Gravel and Jason Johnson Racing tasted victory again for the first time since August at Lernerville Speedway – Gravel’s second win in PA this year. His first came during the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway in July.

This weekend, the Watertown, Conn., driver will be on the hunt for his eighth Series win at Williams Grove and his second National Open victory – his first came in 2014. Along with winning, points will also be in the back of his mind as JJR sits second in the team championship points – 26 points behind Kasey Kahne Racing.

SWEET IN FAMILIAR TERRITORY: Brad Sweet, of Grass Valley, Calif., left Lernerville Speedway with a 40-point lead over Donny Schatz last year and went on to win his first World of Outlaws championship. Last weekend, he left Lernerville with a 40-point lead over Logan Schuchart. He and his Kasey Kahne Racing team have nine more races to try and maintain that gap to get their second consecutive title.

At times, many would look at Williams Grove as an Achilles heel for Sweet. But with four top-10 finishes in the last four races at the track and a third-place finish there during the Summer Nationals, Sweet could be a contender to get his first win at the track.

SCHUCHART ON THE HUNT: Logan Schuchart, of Hanover, Pa., will be on the hunt for his first World of Outlaws win in his home state this weekend and to make up ground on Brad Sweet for the championship.

He went from being eight points behind Sweet to 40 points behind the defending champion in three races last week. He stopped some of the bleeding at Lernerville by finishing fourth, while Sweet finished sixth. Schuchart already knows how to get the job done at a crown jewel event this year by winning the Jackson Nationals in June.

SCHATZ FINDING STEAM: After going winless for two months, 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz, of Fargo, N.D., returned to victory lane at Plymouth Speedway last week – his fourth win of 2020. He’s now two wins away from earning his 300th career World of Outlaws win. A sweep of the weekend at Williams Grove could get that done.

There’s a good chance he could accomplish that feat, too, with 20 Series victories at the Williams Grove – five of them National Open victories. He was a prime contender to win the Summer Nationals this year before suffering a part failure. A strong performance this weekend would also help propel him closer to the title hunt. He’s currently 98 points behind Sweet in third.

GIVING HIS ALL: Sheldon Haudenschild, of Wooster, Ohio, has been one of the most impressive drivers on the tour the last two months. He’s picked up six wins and led more than 100 laps in that time. He nearly swept the tripleheader weekend if it wasn’t for a broken shock at Plymouth Speedway and a blown tire at Lernerville. Haudenschild did get a hometown win at Wayne County Speedway, though.

Williams Grove could be a test for he and his Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing on if they can keep their hot streak going. Haudenschild has yet to win at the historic track and has had up and down performances each time. He finished 10th and 20th there in July.

PITTMAN SICK OF SECOND: Daryn Pittman, of Owasso, Okla., has six series wins at Williams Grove but has yet to win the National Open. Last year was his fifth time finishing second at the event. After a solid debut week in the Heffner Racing #72 car, he’ll be poised to end that streak this weekend.

Pittman returned to Heffner Racing last week – after a year and a half of driving for Roth Motorsports – and progressed each race with the team. They finished 14th at Plymouth, 10th at Wayne County and third at Lernerville. In his 20 previous World of Outlaws starts with Heffner, Pittman picked up a win at Williams Grove in 2011.

INDY PARTS BULLET: The Indy Race Parts No. 71 car has a solid history at Williams Grove. Gio Scelzi earned his first career World of Outlaws win in the No. 71 at Williams Grove and Shane Stewart parked it in Victory Lane at the track again in July.

Stewart has performed well all year behind the wheel of Bernie and Betsy Stuebgen’s #71 ride – recently finishing second at Plymouth. He’ll look to carry that momentum into the National Open weekend.

POSSE TERRITORY: The PA Posse haven’t won against the World of Outlaws in Pennsylvania for seven Series races. The last of the group to do so was Lance Dewease at Williams Grove in May of 2019. The Fayetteville, PA driver has the best record of all Posse drivers at Williams Grove. He has 99 wins in total there and finished second at the Summer Nationals this year.

Brent Marks, of Myerstown, Pa., is one driver many will have their eyes one. He won the National Open as a World of Outlaws driver last year but returned to his PA Posse roots this year, driving for CJB Motorsports. He’s currently second in points at the track with one win there.

PA young guns Anthony Macri, of Dillsburg, Pa., and Freddie Rahmer, of Salfordville, Pa., will try to throw their names into the mix. Macri finished third during the opening night of the Summer Nationals in July and Rahmer is the current points leader at the track with three wins.

Danny Dietrich, of Gettysburg, Pa., is the defending Williams Grove track champion but he’ll have to make big improvement from his Summer Nationals performance, finishing 16th both nights, if he wants to compete for a win this weekend.