MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – David Gravel and Jaxx Johnson climbed to the top of the No. 41 sprint car that returned to victory lane at Williams Grove Speedway and pointed skyward, through the shower of confetti.
Everything had worked out for Gravel and crew to reach this sought-out moment, and they made sure to soak it all in. Gravel finally aligned speed with fortune on Saturday night to bag his third win with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series this season, leading all 30 laps to secure the $20,000 prize and Summer Nationals title belt.
He topped Lance Dewease, who once again fell just short of his 100th victory at the speedway, by 4.2 seconds on a night where the overall race makeup fell Gravel’s way.
“I feel good every night unloading: timing good, heating good, dashing good, but you can’t start seventh or sixth and win these races, especially here,” Gravel said. “It’s tough to charge forward. … Luckily we were able to take advantage of it. I’m happy with how it went. I feel like we deserve a good dash draw and luckily it happened tonight. And luckily it paid $20,000.”
Gravel timed third overall with a lap of 17.216 seconds as Friday’s winner Shane Stewart picked up where he left by setting quick-time with a lap of 17.167 seconds. In the first two heats, it was apparent that once again the top on initial starts was the obvious place to be and the bottom was nowhere close to matching it.
Gravel started heat three on the pole, but, like Stewart and Dewease, who fell off the pole to eventually finished second, he was left chasing the leader, Brad Sweet, as he rounded the backstretch on lap one.
Sweet won the heat, but Gravel didn’t stay stagnant and finished .428 seconds behind. Still, it was good enough to put him in the dash and that’s all that mattered. Gravel drew the four for the six-lap dash, which positioned himself to finish second and start on the preferred outside front row to start the feature.
From there, things continued to align for Gravel, who replicated the top dominance and raced out into clean air, never being challenged en route to his first victory since July 11. It also helped Gravel’s cause that polesitter and then points leader Donny Schatz suffered a rare part failure on lap two while running second.
Schatz’s failure was one of four stoppages to happen in the opening five laps. A six-lap green-flag ensued, and Gravel busted out to a 2.5-second lead on Dewease and right as he neared lapped traffic on lap 11, Sheldon Haudenschild brought out the caution by coming to a stop.
Not only did Gravel evade lapped traffic with the stoppage, but officials changed restarts to single-file the rest of the way, helping Gravel’s victory march that was already backed with speed even more.
“It was one of those things, man,” Gravel said. “It all worked out. Cautions went my way. Didn’t have to deal with lapped traffic.”
Gravel raced out to a 3.2 second lead with 10 laps to go and avoided the maze of lapped traffic once again with seven laps left when Danny Dietrich went up in smoke. All Gravel had to do at that point was run seven, smooth laps, with lapped traffic well out of reach and plenty of clean racetrack ahead.
Sweet finished third and now has an 18-point lead on Logan Schuchart, who came fourth, after the Pennsylvania swing. Jacob Allen placed fifth. Brent Marks charged from 17th to finish sixth, and Brock Zearfoss settled for seventh.
Carson Macedo raced from the B-Main to finish eighth, picking up 15 positions to take the hard-charger and stay in the points hunt, now 70 back of Sweet.
Anthony Macri rebounded from a lap five spin to finish ninth and Daryn Pittman rounded out the top 10.
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