Racing roundup: Sweet surges late, wins 15th race of season
Grass Valley’s Brad Sweet snapped a 12-race World of Outlaws winless streak with a thrilling victory last week at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Sweet, the two-time and reigning World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion, saved his best driving for the last lap as he surged ahead of race leader Sheldon Haudenschild on the final circuit, then held on down the stretch for the win. Sweet edged Haudenschild by a 0.133-second margin to grab the checkered flag.
“I hope you fans enjoyed that finish,” Sweet said to the crowd after his win. “We’ve been struggling lately, so I’m just happy to get the win. I’ve been close here so many times, but Donny (Schatz) just dominated this place for years. We finally found something that got us on the top step of the podium. It feels good.”
Sweet followed his Wednesday night win last week with a ninth place finish at Friday night’s FVP Platinum Battery Showdown in Nebraska, and a fifth place finish in Sunday’s race at Black Hills Speedway in South Dakota.
Sweet, who drives the No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts car for Kasey Kahne Racing, now has a series best 15 wins on the 2021 season, one away from matching his career best 16 wins in 2019. No other driver has more than eight wins this season.
Sweet also sits atop the overall points standings with 8,144. The next closest driver is David Gravel, who trails Sweet by 120 points.
There are just 19 races left on the World of Outlaws 81-race schedule. The series is headed to Washington for a three-day race slate starting Friday at Skagit Speedway in Burlington.
The series comes to California in mid-September with a pair of races at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico Sept. 10-11, a race at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford Sept. 17, and the 49er Gold Rush Classic Sept. 18 at Placerville Speedway.
DIBENEDETTO CRASHES LATE, FALLS SHORT OF PLAYOFFS
Matt DiBenedetto finished 25th at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, ending his quest for a spot in the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Racing at Daytona International Speedway Saturday night, DiBenedetto needed a win to get into the playoffs. The seven-year NASCAR veteran started the race in ninth and was among the leaders with three laps left. DiBenedetto’s bid for the win was thwarted when he was involved in a crash with Chase Elliott that collected several other cars as well.
“We came up short again,” DiBenedetto said in a social media post. “The Menards/Dutch Boy Mustang looked good before the race and during it, not after. … The team did an excellent job. We were in position, our only goal was to win the race, and we were smart all day, and we were there when it counted, did everything right, it just didn’t work out.”
Ryan Blaney went on to win the race in overtime.
DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 21 Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing, finished 18th overall in the NASCAR Cup Series season points standings. The top 16 drivers get a bid to the playoffs.
DiBenedetto, who made the playoffs in 2020, has had an erratic 2021 season. He’s notched seven top-10 finishes and three top-fives, but also finished 23rd or worse nine times. His best showing of the season was a fourth place finish May 2 at Kansas Speedway.
The NASCAR’s Cup Series playoffs get rolling Sunday with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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