ALGER, Wash. — Brad Sweet has finally conquered Skagit Speedway.
Sweet made his first start at the three-tenths-mile track in 2010, but had never won there until topping Saturday’s 30-lap main event on night two of the Sage Fruit Skagit Nationals.
Sweet started third in the 30-lapper, slid past Donny Schatz for second on lap 12, then drove right by David Gravel for the lead on lap 22.
The most troubling news for the field in Sweet’s 16th World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory of the year is his mention that the team, including Eric Prutzman, Joe Mooney and Andrew Bowman, “found something they’ve been missing over the last few weeks.”
Saturday’s Skagit score, which marks wins at 42 different tracks with The Greatest Show on Dirt, brings Sweet to 74 career wins.
Kasey Kahne Racing continued its perfect weekend in the boss’ home state as Sweet became the fourth driver to deliver a win at Washington’s Skagit Speedway, joining Joey Saldana (2), Daryn Pittman (2) and Friday night winner James McFadden.
“I’ve always loved coming to Skagit,” Sweet said. “We’ve got a great crowd and a great track this weekend. We’ve always been close here but seemed to finish second or third and just miss that little extra bit in the late going. I think we found something tonight, though. I could move around and get through traffic really well, and that’s what wins or loses these races. I felt like I could do things that I haven’t been able to do in weeks with this setup.”
Halted by only one caution on lap 8, Saturday’s 30-lapper was full of thick, tight, and troubling lap traffic. After earning a Series-best ninth pole position, Gravel jetted away to a 2.194-second lead at the halfway mark, but then traffic got tricky.
Once Sweet cleared Schatz for the second spot, he quickly caught Gravel and applied pressure with the No. 2 struggling to make moves on the backmarkers.
The winning move came on lap 22 when Sweet aced the bottom of turns one and two and rolled right by Gravel, who was pinned on the high side. The No. 49 machine immediately checked out and ran to the win unchallenged over the last eight laps, but things got wild for the runner-up position as Gravel, Schatz, McFadden, and Haudenschild went wheel-to-wheel through traffic.
Ultimately, Sweet took the checkered flag ahead by 2.336 seconds.
“Sometimes it’s easier to be in second at a track like this,” Sweet noted. “It’s so much fun to race with guys like David, Donny, and everyone on tour right now. This is the toughest the World of Outlaws has been I think. Hopefully, we can come back tomorrow and get us $25,000.”
Schatz clawed back from fourth and ended up second in Saturday’s 30-lapper.
“That was a high-speed chess match,” Schatz said. “The car feels solid, so I think we should be good for tomorrow’s big show.”
After leading the opening 21 laps, Gravel slipped back to third for the third-straight race.
“It’s a bummer to draw the one on back-to-back nights with zero wins to show for it,” Gravel admitted. “We got better today, so hopefully we’ll find a little more tomorrow with $25,000 on the line.”
McFadden and Sheldon Haudenschild rounded out the top five.
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