David Gravel at Wilmot Raceway. (Mark Funderburk photo)

Gravel Calls Wilmot Raceway Home

WILMOT, Wis. — David Gravel’s hometown is about 1,000 miles away from Wilmot Raceway, yet he’s starting to consider the Wisconsin raceway his new home track.

While occupying victory lane for the fourth time at the third-mile dirt track Saturday night, the Watertown, Conn., native joked he’d consider moving there with how well the track has treated him in his career.

Gravel won his first three World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series appearances at the track in 2014, ’16 and ’17. He then finished fourth in 2018 and second in 2019.

When the green flag waved for his sixth visit at the track, Gravel went flag to flag for another victory. He led all 40 laps to claim his second win of 2020 with Jason Johnson Racing and pick up the $10,000 top prize for the night.

“This has been an awesome town for me,” Gravel said. “It’s always awesome to come here. For some reason this place suits me really well. (Crew Chief) Philip (Dietz) gave me a great race car. The guys have been working really hard. I’ve been pretty hard to make happy here lately and tonight they did that.”

The win was another impressive accomplishment for Gravel, who had been struggling for consistency, but an even bigger one for Dietz. He’s now in a rare category of being a crew chief that has won back to back races with two drivers in two different cars. He won with Parker Price-Miller at 34 Raceway the night before, with the Dietz Motorsports No. 14 car that he co-owns with his wife Brooke, and then with Gravel and the Jason Johnson Racing No. 41 at Wilmot.

“It feels great,” Dietz said. “It’s kind of been a struggle the last few months to find a good balance that suits both cars. I feel like we’ve hit on something lately. It definitely showed last night with Parker and I feel like we were able to apply some of those things to David’s car. It definitely showed.”

Price-Miller also led every lap at 34 Raceway, en route to his second career win and first for Dietz Motorsports. He finished sixth at Wilmot.

While Gravel dominated the 40-lap feature, he had to outlast several cautions and red flags as some drivers struggled to tackle the technical bullring.

Sheldon Haudenschild flipped early, but his Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing crew, along with crew members from other teams, got his car repaired in time to get back on track. He fought his way to an impressive eighth-place finish.

One of the biggest surprises of the night was when reigning champion and current points leader Brad Sweet slowed to a stop in turn four on lap 16. The oil filter broke off of his car, ending his night early and forcing a 19th-place finish. With Logan Schuchart finishing third and 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz finishing fourth, Schatz is 84 points behind Sweet in second and Schuchart is 96 points back in third.

Gravel’s biggest competition of the night was Carson Macedo. The Kyle Larson Racing driver earned the pole for the Feature by winning the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash. However, when the Feature started, Gravel launched ahead of Macedo and ran away with the lead – averaging about a two second lead throughout the event.

Macedo closed in while Gravel battled traffic but faded once the Mesilla Valley Transportation No. 41 found clean air again. Heavy traffic became a factor in the closing laps, allowing Macedo to make one last charge at Gravel. The checkered flag was presented to Gravel with Macedo 0.375 seconds back.

“My race car was really good, especially there at the end,” Macedo said. “I knew early I was a little bit on the snug side, but I knew that my race car would get better and better. They made good adjustments during the (open) red… It was everything I had and more. That was as hard as I could go. I was trying as hard as I could to get to him. I felt like I was faster than him and I could get to him. But I made a mistake there and lost so much ground.”

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