CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — High banks and high speeds await the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars this Memorial Day weekend.
First up is two nights at Atomic Speedway (May 26-27) – marking the ninth and 10th visits for The Greatest Show on Dirt at the three-eighths-mile. Then, on Monday, May 29, the series heads to southeast Indiana where Lawrenceburg Speedway hosts the Federated Auto Parts Memorial Day Spectacular. The night will be Lawrenceburg’s 19th time welcoming the World of Outlaws.
Add it all together, and the result is three races in four nights at two of the most exciting tracks that the series invades all year.
Let’s look at this weekend’s top storylines:
Through a quarter of the 2023 campaign, three names have separated themselves atop the standings, but they’ve been unable to separate from each other. Brad Sweet leads the way in pursuit of his fifth consecutive title with David Gravel (-20 points) and Carson Macedo (-30 points) close behind.
Sweet’s one World of Outlaws appearance at Atomic resulted in a fourth-place effort last season. “The Big Cat’s” last seven starts at Lawrenceburg have seen him finish no worse than eighth, including a victory in 2018.
Gravel also has only one World of Outlaws start at Atomic – finishing seventh last season. But the driver of the Big Game Motorsports No. 2 has made five All-Star Circuit of Champions starts there, earning three top fives, including a runner-up in 2011. In 10 Lawrenceburg attempts, Gravel owns top fives in half of them.
Macedo’s made several laps at Atomic with the All-Stars, finishing as high as third in 2018. The Lemoore, Calif. native hasn’t had quite the performance he’d like at Lawrenceburg with only one top-10 finish in four starts, but he’ll look to change the trend on Monday.
In only a few short weeks, Donny Schatz has gone from struggling to crack the top 10 to the hottest driver on tour.
After seven consecutive finishes of 11th of lower, Schatz has rebounded in a massive way with five podiums in the last six races. Two of them are wins at Attica Raceway Park and Sharon Speedway this past weekend for his first two wins of the season.
Schatz’ performance at the two tracks ahead this weekend suggests the stretch could continue. At Atomic, the pilot of the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing No. 15 has topped four of the eight races in Series history. In seven starts at the Chillicothe oval, the Fargo, N.D. native’s average finish is 2.57.
At Lawrenceburg, Schatz is a three-time winner and owns podiums in nine of his 15 starts.
This past weekend proved to be a productive outing in home territory for Sheldon Haudenschild.
The Wooster, Ohio native finished fourth at Attica, then posted his fourth podium of the season at Sharon. With momentum on his side, Haudenschild hopes to find himself in victory lane at least once during the upcoming trio of races.
As luck would have it, Haudenschild won the most recent Series visit at both Atomic and Lawrenceburg aboard the Stenhouse Jr./Marshall Racing No. 17. Haudenschild is also a former All-Star winner at Atomic (2016).
The Shark Racing teammates – Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen – have been so close to scoring a victory for Bobby Allen’s team at the tracks ahead this weekend.
Schuchart made his first World of Outlaws start at Atomic last year. That night he came home in the runner-up spot. In Schuchart’s first five starts at Lawrenceburg, he didn’t finish within the top 10. But in his last two starts, Schuchart has posted results of second and third.
Last year at Atomic, Allen followed Schuchart to the checkered flag to complete the podium in his first Atomic attempt. Allen hasn’t been quite as strong as his teammate at Lawrenceburg, but he did post his first top 10 at the facility during the most recent visit.
The trip to Lawrenceburg is the last World of Outlaws race in Indiana for the season, so that means it’s the last opportunity for the tour’s two Hoosiers – Spencer Bayston and Bill Rose – to have strong outings in their home state.
Bayston has stood in Lawrenceburg victory lane in the past – topping a 2018 United States Auto Club (USAC) race. Last year, with his current team – CJB Motorsports – the Lebanon, Ind. native finished fifth in the World of Outlaws trip to “The Burg.”
Rose, out of Plainfield, Ind., has made countless laps at Lawrenceburg in his Sprint Car career both with and without a wing. The 58-year-old finished second in a 1997 USAC race, and fast forward to 2009 when he earned another runner-up – this time with the All-Stars.
With a strong local Sprint Car scene, a few Buckeyes stand out as drivers who could contend for a World of Outlaws upset.
Cole Duncan undoubtedly leads the charge of local favorites. The Lockbourne, Ohio native has collected dozens of Atomic wins over the years including five in 2022. Last year, Duncan earned a World of Outlaws top-five finish when the Series visited Chillicothe.
Last Friday, Cap Henry put together a strong run at Attica (sixth) to make Ohio proud and could do the same at Atomic. Henry has already earned a pair of top fives in Chillicothe this year including a second in April.
More locals to watch include Travis Philo (Bowling Green, Ohio), Kory Crabtree (London, Ohio), Nate Reeser (Circleville, Ohio) and more.