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WORLD FINALS NOTES: Sweet Secures Third Title

CONCORD, N.C. — Brad Sweet wrapped up his third consecutive World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship by completing his qualifying run on the opening night of the NGK/NTK World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Friday.

Sweet had won 16 features and racked up 47 top-five finishes and 62 top-10 runs aboard the Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb No. 49 entering the World Finals. He picked up another top-10 Friday night.

Sweet‘s KKR teammate James McFadden also secured the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award this season.

• Forty-eight late models, 46 sprint cars and 40 big-block modifieds signed in for the opening night of the World Finals.

• Sixteen-year-old racer Gray Leadbetter had a rough World of Outlaws debut Friday night.

Driving the second Bernie Stuebgen-prepared, she broke a left-rear wheel entering the third turn during the second heat and took a wild ride. She climbed from the car under her own power.

The SXX off-road champion was making only her eighth sprint car start and second in a 410 machine. Her first 410 start came Tuesday during the Prelude to the Finals at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., where she finished fifth.

• Veteran Brett Hearn, making a rare big-block modified start after retiring from full-time racing a few years ago, started on the pole of Friday‘s feature and was in contention to win for about half the race. He eventually faded eighth at the finish.

• Shane Stewart finished 12th Friday in Bernie Stuebgen‘s No. 71 sprint car. This weekend marks the 36-time series winner‘s eighth and ninth races of the year in which he has a pair of podium runs and four top 10 finishes.

• Joe Gaerte, crew chief for the Alex Bowman Racing No. 55 sprint car, which is being wheeled by Cole Macedo this weekend, has been living in his motorhome at Charlotte Motor Speedway for nearly a year.

• Buddy Kofoid, a winner in winged sprint cars and midgets this season, is driving Kevin Swindell‘s Swindell SpeedLab No. 39 this weekend.

• Fremont (Ohio) Speedway champion D.J. Foos, who won eight features in the state of Ohio this year, made his World Finals debut.

• Chris Ferguson‘s typical black No. 22 dirt late model was replaced with a blue and white No. 01 this weekend in honor of Phil Nye Jr., a friend and former dirt racer who passed away in August.

• Longtime Skagit Speedway promoter Steve Beitler, who retired at the end of the track‘s season in September, was among those walking the pits Friday.

• UMP modified master Nick Hoffman, who is making his transition to late models, had NOS Energy Drink sponsorship on his Scott Bloomquist Racing entry this weekend.

• Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint regulars Paulie Colagiovanni and Matt Farnham made the tow from New York to compete with the World of Outlaws here.

• Young gun Garrett Smith put together a solid night as he qualified for the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series feature with a fourth-place heat finish. He ran into bad luck when he slowed during the 50-lap feature to bring out a caution flag, but he returned to the track after a visit to the hot pits and managed to finish 14th. He finished as the first driver one lap down.

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