Mike Kerchner

Kerchner: The Brad Sweet Era Is Here

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Brad Sweet.

Despite having won four consecutive World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championships, Sweet continues to fly under the radar.

The Grass Valley, Calif., native is overshadowed not only by current competitors such as Carson Macedo and David Gravel, but also by former champions Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser.

Schatz and Kinser are the only other drivers to have won four consecutive World of Outlaws titles. Schatz earned five in a row from 2014-’18, while 20-time champion Kinser claimed six straight titles between 1983-’88 and five consecutive from 1990-’94. Kinser won four in a row again between 2002-’05.

2023 02 10 Volusia Woo Brad Sweet Paul Arch Photo Dsc 3531 (27)a2sm
Four-time World of Outlaws champion Brad Sweet. (Paul Arch photo)

Sweet hasn’t been flashy during his reign over the world’s most challenging sprint car racing circuit. What he has been is consistent. All four titles have come aboard the NAPA-sponsored Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 with essentially the same crew led by Eric Prutzman.

Off to a solid start despite a rainy first two months of the season, Sweet looks like a serious contender for another title. He trailed Macedo by only 12 points after winning three of the first 13 races.

He won only five times en route to the title last year, as his knack for always being around at the finish carried him to the crown.

Sweet began racing outlaw karts at age 8 and eventually graduated to 360 sprint cars. He found success racing sprint cars on the West Coast and also spent some time racing with USAC in the Midwest. He earned 11 USAC midget victories during the early 2000s, including the Belleville Midget Nationals.

Making his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut in 2009, Sweet made 18 Truck Series starts and ran 36 NASCAR Xfinity Series races through 2013, when he had four top-10 finishes in 17 Xfinity Series races.

Having driven for Kasey Kahne Racing on and off in both midgets and sprint cars beginning in 2008, Sweet and KKR ran the full World of Outlaws circuit for the first time in 2014, and Sweet earned the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award.

Since then, Sweet, who is known to fans as “The Big Cat,” has racked up 82 World of Outlaws victories and won some of the sport’s biggest races.

He captured the Knoxville Nationals trophy in 2018 and won Eldora Speedway’s Kings Royal twice.

The 37-year-old driver is one of only six racers (Schatz, Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Mark Kinser and Jason Meyers) to have won the World of Outlaws championship two or more times.

A calculated driver who is aggressive when he needs to be, Sweet knows the racing game as well as anyone and his knowledge of his car and the race tracks on the World of Outlaws circuit are certainly feathers in his cap.

One of the best-spoken racers on the circuit, Sweet has been interested in giving back to the sport for several years, promoting races in his native California. Last year, with help from the horsepower of his brother-in-law Kyle Larson, Sweet launched the High Limit Racing Series, which will sanction 11 high-paying midweek sprint car races this season.

While running point in setting up the High Limit season, Sweet clearly hasn’t lost focus on his day job as a World of Outlaws driver, nor has he lost interest in winning a fifth consecutive championship.

Eleven top-10 finishes in 13 races this season prove Sweet and the KKR team have the speed and the preparation to complete the drive for five.

While Sweet may not claim 10 World of Outlaws championships like Schatz, and he certainly won’t win 20 like Kinser did, he’s well on his way to authoring the Brad Sweet era with the World of Outlaws.

Let’s get out there and enjoy it, while this bit of history is still being written.


This story appeared in the May 10, 2023 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.

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