Back on track: Sweet drives to victory in Iowa, snaps month-long drought
Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.
“We’ve been through some adversity this last month,” said Sweet, who drives the No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts sprint car for Kasey Kahne Racing. “At the beginning of the year it was like nothing could go wrong, but, man, lately everything has been going wrong. But, that’s racing. You have to keep a positive mindset, and I think we have.”
Competing last Thursday at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa, Sweet started the 30-lap World of Outlaws sprint car race in third, and took his first lead in lap 17. After trading the lead with Carson Macedo a couple times throughout the race, Sweet took control for good on lap 23.
“Sometimes it’s better to be running second, but honestly I was disappointed with myself when I got him and he passed me back,” said Sweet, the two-time and defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champ. “I really had to get my elbows up to work around him the second time. You have to keep your composure more than anything, that’s what wins these races.”
The victory was Sweet’s 10th of the season and snapped a nine-race winless streak that dated back to March 12.
“This was big to build our confidence with all these big money races coming,” Sweet said. “Our focus is these next 10 days right now.”
Sweet followed his win at 34 Raceway with a ninth place finish at Iowa’s Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway on Friday, and a fourth place finish at Beaver Dam Raceway in Wisconsin on Saturday.
This week is a busy one for Sweet and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series with five races on the schedule. The series opened the week with a pair of races at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota, starting Monday and wrapping up tonight. The series then heads to the AGCO Jackson Nationals for three straight days of racing at the Jackson Motorplex in Minnesota. The AGCO Jackson Nationals get rolling Thursday and conclude Saturday with a $50,000 feature race.
With last Thursday’s win, Sweet now has 68 career victories in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, which ranks him 12th all time. He remains atop the 2021 overall point standings with 4,612. Macedo is second with 4,562.
ROSSI EARNS TOP 10
Nevada City native Alexander Rossi matched his best finish of the season Sunday, racing to a seventh place finish at the Rev Group Grand Prix held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Rossi started the race in ninth and was able to work his way into the top five at times throughout the race, but ultimately finished seventh.
For Rossi, who drives the No. 27 Honda for Andretti Autosport, it was his fifth top 10 of the season and third time finishing seventh. Rossi also placed seventh at the Indy Grand Prix (May 15) and the Detroit Grand Prix (June 12).
Alex Palou won Sunday’s race, overtaking the lead in the final laps for his second win of the season.
It was at the Road America course in 2019 where Rossi last won an IndyCar race.
“As the weeks go by, it’s getting easier to swallow the pain of it, I’m getting accustomed to it,” Rossi told The Associated Press ahead of the Rev Group Grand Prix. “The motivation is still there, and I would say it’s as high or higher than anyone on the grid. I’m just able to get over it much quicker than maybe before. Instead of feeling sorry for myself through Monday afternoon, I’m up and at the gym at 7 o’clock.”
With seven races left in the season, Rossi sits in 13th in the IndyCar Series’ overall point standings. Palou is first overall.
Next up for Rossi, and the rest of IndyCar, is the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio July 4.
ENGINE ISSUES COST DIBENEDETTO
Grass Valley native Matt DiBenedetto had a rough Sunday afternoon at the Ally 400, finishing 24th in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway.
DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 21 Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing, started the race in 11th and was running near the top five before engine issues slowed him. Lacking the power to stay with the leaders, DiBenedetto steadily slipped back in the pack.
“We definitely had a car that was capable of finishing in the top 10,” DiBenedetto said. “It drove well. The crew had good stops, and (crew chief Jonathan) Hassler made good calls on the pit box. Everybody did a good job, but we had the engine issue.”
Kyle Larson won the Ally 400 to continue his incredible hot streak. The Elk Grove native has now won four races in a row and finished in the top two in seven straight. Larson is now just 10 points behind Denny Hamlin for the top spot in the series’ overall point race. DiBenedetto is 19th in the season standings.
The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Pocono Raceway for a doubleheader weekend. Race 1 starts at noon Saturday and will be broadcast by NBCSN. The Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 starts at 12:30 p.m. Sunday and will also be broadcast on NBCSN.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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