KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Reigning Knoxville Nationals winner Brad Sweet proved on Saturday night that he hasn’t forgotten the way to victory lane at Knoxville Raceway.
Sweet prevailed over Logan Schuchart in a thrilling and frenetic finale to the Brownells Big Guns Bash at the black-dirt, half-mile oval, passing the Shark Racing driver for good with eight to go and driving away down the stretch.
In a 25-lap feature that featured three different leaders and three lead changes in the second half of the event, Sweet ultimately prevailed by one second at the checkered flag in the No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts machine for Kasey Kahne Racing.
That didn’t mean his fourth World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win of the season – and the 38th of his Outlaw career – was easy, however. Sweet noted in victory lane it was anything but.
“That (No.) 1s is very underrated. If he (Schuchart) gets up front in one of these (Knoxville) Nationals, he’s going to be tough to beat,” Sweet said of Schuchart. “He’s got a great-handling race car, he can time (moves) well and Logan’s getting better and better as a driver. He definitely got me up on the wheel there tonight; that was about all I had to be able to hold him off and beat him.”
The feature rolled off just before 1 a.m. CT, after showers led to a lengthy rain delay before hot laps.
“When the track is fast like that, it’s really tricky, because everything is happening way faster than you want it to,” noted Sweet of the heavy, lightning-quick surface the field was faced with. “You still have to hit that narrow bottom, though, and that was the key tonight … was getting the low line to work.”
After missing the feature on Friday night at Knoxville, Lance Dewease and the Don Kreitz-owned No. 69k came back 24 hours later and started from the pole after winning the DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash.
Dewease started strong, too. Despite a false start on the initial green flag and a caution with three laps scored for a stalled Trey Starks in turn two, the Pennsylvania kingpin paced the first 13 circuits with ease, opening up as much as a one-second lead before getting into lap traffic just before halfway.
That was when Sweet turned up the wick, powering to the inside in turns three and four to take command on the 14th round. Just as quickly, Sweet brought Schuchart with him into second, and a ferocious battle for supremacy was on.
Schuchart wasn’t content to ride, shooting past Sweet on the outside to assume the top spot down the backstretch with 10 to go, but Sweet had a counter-play lined up and ready to go.
With seeming ease, Sweet retaliated on lap 18 with a dive to the inside entering turns one and two, sliding across Schuchart’s line to break his momentum and taking a lead he wouldn’t relinquish again.
Though Schuchart didn’t come away with a win in the end, he admitted a runner-up finish and “being in contention” was exactly what his Shark Racing team needed going into the Knoxville Nationals in August.
“I was watching Brad and Lance there for a little while. I could hit the bottom early in the race, and any time you can run the bottom pretty snug here, that’s a good sign,” said Schuchart. “Once I got the lead, it was just tough to hit the bottom that many times consistently … and I just felt more comfortable going back to the top, especially with lap cars there.
“It ended up hurting me, but this team won the Nationals, and we ran them down and passed them,” Schuchart added. “In my book, that’s something to be proud of.”
Daryn Pittman rallied through the field from 10th on the grid to complete the podium, with Sheldon Haudenschild and David Gravel following in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Dewease fell back to sixth at the checkered flag, ahead of Friday winner Brian Brown, Shane Stewart, Carson Macedo and Lynton Jeffrey. KSE Hard Charger Ian Madsen came from 25th to finish 11th.
To see full results, turn to the next page.