SARVER, Pa. – Brad Sweet put some distance between himself and Donny Schatz in the race for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship Saturday night during the Commonwealth Clash at Lernerville Speedway.
Sweet raced to his 16th Outlaw win of the season with a dominant performance at the four-tenths-mile dirt oval, firing off from the pole and leading all 35 laps en route to victory lane.
The driver of the No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts-backed, Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb-prepared sprinter was never seriously threatened and took the checkered flag 1.898 seconds in front of runner-up Shane Stewart.
Making the night even more special, Saturday night’s score was the milestone 50th victory of Sweet’s Outlaw career, with nearly a third of those wins coming this season alone as part of a magical year.
“We hit on some stuff here last year at this same race, and basically ran the car the same way tonight to where it paid off,” Sweet said in victory lane. “I didn’t feel like we as good as we were last year at this race, but obviously we ended up parked and celebrating, so that says a lot that a little bit off for us right now is still good enough to win. That’s a great feeling to have.”
While Sweet celebrated with the victory laurels, Schatz was left wondering what might have been after pursuing Sweet for the first half of the race, before engine woes on lap 21 sidelined him for the night.
As a result, Schatz was scored 18th in the final rundown after rolling off alongside Sweet on the front row, losing 36 crucial points in the title tilt and now standing 40 markers behind leaving Lernerville.
“I don’t know where Donny finished, but I just try to stay focused on our car, because as long as we’re winning the race, we know that we’re gaining points,” Sweet noted. “We can’t control what Donny does or what his team does, so we really just stay focused on our NAPA No. 49 car. We’ve had what feels like the best car all year; we’ve been up front a lot, even though we’ve fought a little adversity.
“We’ve been on a little roller coaster ride where we’ve been up and down a little bit lately, but I think we’ve really dug deep and bounced back in a big way.”
Two early incidents slowed the pace, with Clay Riney and A.J. Flick running into trouble in turns one and two on the opening lap, while Flick followed up his first-lap woes with a flip over the banking on the second revolution that ended his night.
The next 18 laps ran uninterrupted, with Schatz dogging Sweet through traffic, but the 10-time Outlaw champion’s pursuit suddenly stalled on lap 21 as he slowed on the frontstretch with an ill-sounding engine.
Schatz went to the work area – and saw an immense display of sportsmanship as members of Sweet’s KKR crew jumped in to try and help get his No. 15 Toco Warranty machine back on track, but it wasn’t meant to be as Schatz pulled back in moments after the ensuing restart.
That left Sweet out in front over Shane Stewart, David Gravel and Sheldon Haudenschild, and though Stewart kept pace initially with Sweet when racing conditions resumed, Sweet steadily began to extend his margin back out as the laps wound down.
In the end, no one had anything for Sweet on this night, though Stewart gave it a valiant effort in coming home second at the final flag. David Gravel, who closed on Stewart in the final laps but couldn’t pounce, completed the podium in the Jason Johnson Racing No. 41.
Ian Madsen crossed fourth and Daryn Pittman, from 10th, finished fifth.
Hard charger Sheldon Haudenschild moved forward from 14th to sixth, followed by Jacob Allen, Logan Schuchart, Tim Shaffer and Kraig Kinser.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.