ALUMNI: Brad Sweet holds on to win sprint car’s preeminent race | TheUnion.com

ALUMNI: Brad Sweet holds on to win sprint car’s preeminent race

Brad Sweet raced his way into the record books Saturday night in Iowa.

Competing in the preeminent sprint car race of the year, Sweet outdueled Donny Schatz to win the Knoxville Nationals Sprint Car race by 0.133 seconds.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Sweet. "It was a lot of hard work and teamwork, and a lot of work over the years. It means the world to me."

For the man who started racing go karts at age 8 and has been competing on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series for the last five years, Saturday's victory at the Knoxville Raceway is the biggest of his career.

"It's a childhood dream come true," said Sweet, who drives the NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 car for Kasey Kahne Racing. "It's what every sprint car racer sets out to do, is to win a Knoxville Nationals… They can't ever take that away from me. I'll always be a Knoxville Nationals champion and it's what's going to define my career no matter what happens going forward."

Sweet earned the pole position and got off to a good start, leading for much of the race. He would be pressured down the stretch by Schatz, a 10-time Knoxville Nationals winner and defending World of Outlaws sprint car points champion.

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"I was able to have the car to beat, got out in front and just tried to set a nice pace and then the (green-white-checkered) flag with two laps to go kind of set a shootout up," said Sweet. "I just tried to hit my marks as best I could and we were just barely able to hold Donny Schatz off."

The 0.133 second victory is the second closest in the 58-year history of the race, according to the World of Outlaws website http://www.woosprint.com. NASCAR star and Elk Grove native Kyle Larson finished third.

With the win, Sweet becomes just the 25th driver to win the prestigious race since it started in 1961.

"It's been dominated by a few guys over the years so it's nice to break into that winners column and win $150,000," said Sweet. "I'm pretty happy about it."

The victory was one of three for Sweet last week. The 32-year-old Bear River grad also won in qualifying on Thursday and took first in the Ralph Capitani Classic Aug. 5.

The Grass Valley native is back in California for a brief stay but will soon be back on the track for races in North Dakota Friday and Saturday.

The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series begins it's second west coast swing Aug. 31 in Washington and makes its way to Chico Sept. 7 and Placerville Sept. 12.

Sweet also expressed gratitude for all of his supporters throughout the years.

"I want to thank everybody," he said. "There's been a lot of people that have helped me on the sponsor side of things. Bart Reibe has been a huge part of me being with the NAPA family and he's supported me in my endeavors, and just the whole community itself. It's a tight knit group in the Grass Valley area and its been cool to have a lot of people reach out to me on social media and stuff. I appreciate it."

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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