BRANDON, S.D. — Though he didn’t capture the $30,000 prize offered during Tuesday’s Huset’s 50, Brad Sweet earned valuable points toward a third straight World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship.
Sweet, from Grass Valley, Calif., finished second to Aaron Reutzel aboard his familiar Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb-prepared, NAPA Auto Parts-sponsored No. 49 sprint car. It marked his 22nd top-five finish in 35 starts this year and the fifth straight race he’s been inside the top 10.
Aside from a lone blemish, when he ran 16th at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway during the second night of the Brownell’s Big Guns Bash on June 12, Sweet hasn’t finished worse than ninth since May 15.
Those are the kinds of stretches that allow drivers to stack points and claim series titles.
Sweet knows that, but he also knows that the World of Outlaws sprint car season is kicking into high gear and there is a lot of racing still to come — particularly during the Summer of Money.
“You can’t be content; you always have to keep searching and trying to improve,” Sweet said recently.
Sweet was doing just that Tuesday night at the quarter-mile Huset’s bullring, coming on strong late in the 50-lap feature and searching for the right line to chase down Reutzel and challenge for the victory.
“I left it all out there. It was all I could do,” said Sweet of his race. “I don’t think I could have done anything differently. I don’t think the [lap 30] pit stop hurt us too bad, either, but I’d have liked to see this race just go all the way [for 50 laps]. Either way, though, I’m happy with a second because we were moving forward and had a great race car.
“Obviously, you want to get a win every time you’re at these big races, but we can’t hang our heads too much about this one,” Sweet added. “We’ve got a big weekend ahead at Jackson. Hopefully, we can put on another good show and finish one spot later in the week.”
While some drivers were a fan of the format at Huset’s — which featured a five-minute open red-flag period following the completion of lap 30 — Sweet hoped to see a straight-up 50-lapper to allow for more long runs during the event.
“Stamina wasn’t a factor for me Tuesday night,” he tipped. “I don’t know if my car was just handling really well or what it was, but a good race car always helps to keep you fresher. Thirty laps isn’t really a long race for us before a five-minute breather. After that, we just ran really hard for the last 20 [laps].
“That’s behind us now, though, and we’re keeping our eye on the prize,” Sweet continued. “There’s $50,000 on the line this weekend in the Jackson Nationals and we want to take it home.”
Sweet is a past Jackson Nationals winner, having taken top honors in the crown-jewel event in both 2017 and ’19.
His first Jackson Nationals victory was worth $25,000, while his second win in the event paid $41,000. This weekend’s Jackson Nationals features a $30,000 top prize.
But the Jackson Nationals mark just one more small step toward the $150,000 prize awaiting the season champion. That’s a check that Sweet and his Andrew Prutzman-led team hope to collect for the third straight year.
“Our focus is the same as it’s been since the start of the year: winning races,” said Sweet, who leads the Outlaws in victories this year with 10 and has a 56-point lead over David Gravel. “If we keep doing that, then the standings should take care of themselves as we get closer to Charlotte in November.”