Gravel, Macedo, Sweet
Brad Sweet (right), David Gravel (left) and Carson Macedo completed the top three in the 2022 sprint car championship. (Frank Smith photo)

David Gravel: ‘It Is What It Is’

As the lights dimmed at The Dirt Track at Charlotte on Saturday night, signaling the end of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season, David Gravel only had one thing to say: “It is what it is.”

Gravel walked away from the World Finals 48 points behind his title rival, newly crowned champion Brad Sweet. And while Gravel battled to the very end, there was nothing he could do to end Sweet’s championship streak, which has now spanned four consecutive years.

“It is what it is,” Gravel said. “I feel like we’re just one step away from being a champion or winning the Knoxville Nationals.”

Gravel was in a unique position most of the year as he stayed close enough in points to vie for his first World of Outlaws championship. Following his victory during the season-opening weekend at Volusia (Fla.) Speedway Park, the Big Game Motorsports driver launched into the early-season points lead and continued to flourish as a frontrunner.

2 Gravel & 17 Haudenschild
David Gravel (2) battles with Sheldon Haudenschild at the World Finals. (Frank Smith photo)

Since February, Gravel has stacked up six more wins and 39 top-five finishes.

Even without the championship, it has been a noteworthy season for the 30-year-old, full-time Outlaw.

“Obviously being close to the championship is definitely something that’s really cool and different for me,” Gravel said on opening day at the World Finals. “There’s only been a handful of races we’d like to take back, but other than that, it’s been a pretty good year.”

Gravel’s win column this season includes tracks such as Eldora (Ohio) Speedway, Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway and I-80 (Neb.) Speedway. His near-miss came at the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa when he finished second to Donny Schatz.

In the closing stretch of the season, Gravel picked up the pace in his No. 2 sprint car and steadily chipped away at Sweet’s points lead.

A little luck fell Gravel’s way at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway two weeks before the World Finals when Sweet suffered a DNF, shrinking the points gap to 16.

When the Outlaws arrived at The Dirt Track, Gravel and Sweet were separated by 16 points.

“Try to get a couple wins. Try to get a couple quick times,” Gravel said on Wednesday. “Our goal is to try to beat Brad every night.”

Gravel claimed sixth on opening night, while Sweet finished third. It was a similar story on Friday night, with Gravel crossing the finish line six positions behind Sweet.

With the way the track was wearing through the week, Gravel’s main concern heading into the finale was tires. He had already relegated thoughts of the championship to the back of his mind, realizing it would essentially take another DNF from the No. 49 driver for Gravel to win. When the green flag waved on Saturday night, Sweet did what he’s done best this season and collected a top-five finish, securing the title.

Gravel battled tire wear and ended up in 11th.

“I guess I’m lucky just to finish,” Gravel said following Saturday’s race. Raindrops started to fall as the No. 2 sprint car was loaded into the hauler, but it was evident Gravel had a newfound fire that could not be extinguished.

“I definitely want to be a champion,” Gravel said. “There have only been 10 in the history of the sport, so that’s pretty elite company. It would be an honor.”