AUTO RACING ROUNDUP: Sweet loses, regains point lead during busy week
Reigning World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion Brad Sweet had a busy week, competing in four races across five days at three different Pennsylvania tracks.
Sweet, a Grass Valley native, came into the slate of races with a slim overall points lead over 10-time Series champ Donny Schatz. Sweet lost that lead, but by weekend’s end, the “Big Cat” was back on top of the standings where he’s been for most of the season.
Sweet’s week got started July 21 in Lernerville, where he placed third at the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup. Sweet led early on and through laps 34-39, but fell to third on the final lap. The third-place finish snapped a string of three straight DNFs for Sweet.
“Probably should have protected,” said Sweet. “I don’t know if I would have still held them off. I kind of felt like I was hanging on a little the last few laps there. Just couldn’t quite get the momentum built back up.”
Schatz won the race, which propelled him past Sweet in the points standings. Kyle Larson was second.
Sweet, who drives the No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts car for Kasey Kahne Racing, then headed to Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown where he took eighth at Gettysburg Clash last Thursday. Sheldon Haudenschild won the race and Schatz finished a spot ahead of Sweet to extend his overall points lead.
Then it is was on to Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg. Sweet crossed the finish line in seventh, but Schatz placed second, which moved him 16 points ahead of Sweet in the season standings.
Sweet closed the week with a fourth straight top-10 finish placing third at the Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals Saturday at Williams Grove Speedway. Schatz was the pole sitter to start the race, but had mechanical issues early on and did not finish. The events led to Sweet retaking the overall points lead with 3,594. Schatz dropped back to third with 3,568. Logan Schuchart is in second with 3,576.
“I saw Donny have his issues but (points) didn’t even cross my mind,” Sweet said. “I just kind of thought, it moved me up a spot. We just want to win.”
For the season, Sweet has a series-leading seven wins to go with 19 top-5s in 27 starts. Sweet has finished outside the top-10 just four times all season.
Sweet and the rest of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series have a pair of races this weekend, heading to Orrville, Ohio, for a race at Wayne County Speedway on Saturday, then off to the Plymouth Speedway in Indiana on Sunday.
DiBenedetto crashes in Kansas
NASCAR driver Matt DiBenedetto had his worst finish of the season after getting clipped from behind and crashing during a Cup series race at Kansas Speedway last Thursday.
“I’m pretty freaking irritated. We have had garbage luck the last few weeks,” said DiBenedetto during a post race interview.
The Grass Valley native had qualified 12th for the race, but did not finish. He was knocked out when he was caught up in a multi-car wreck that was triggered by a Joey Logano. A flat tire on Logano’s car caused him to slow in front of Kevin Harvick. Harvick sent Logano into the wall and he collected several other cars in the crash, including DiBenedetto.
Despite the wreck, DiBenedetto is amidst his best season since joining NASCAR. The sixth-year driver has two top-three finishes and five top-10s this season. He is currently in 13th place in the series points standings.
DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 21 Car for Wood Brothers Racing, now heads to the New Hampshire Speedway for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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