PAIGE, Texas – Third place might not be the kind of finish Brad Sweet came to Cotton Bowl Speedway looking for, but he knows it’s the kind of night that leads to championships with the World of Outlaws.
Sweet, the two-time defending World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion, took over the point lead from rival Logan Schuchart after a podium effort at the three-eighths-mile dirt track.
Schuchart finished 10th Friday night after starting 16th. He lost 14 points to Sweet in the title hunt.
“We always want to win, but we’ll take a solid night,” Sweet tipped after the race.
However, despite assuming command of the season standings through seven races, Sweet felt that he should have gotten more out of Friday’s race after leading 12 laps in the 35-lap feature.
Sweet was passed by eventual winner Sheldon Haudenschild on lap 25, pinned on the bottom with his Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb No. 49 while Haudenschild ripped past on the outside lane.
“The driver just needed to step up there,” Sweet said regarding losing the lead. “I knew I needed to move up, especially when it’s that slow on the bottom. The top just didn’t look like it was there, though. I was trapped and got going slow, so I knew someone would find something. Didn’t surprise me when it was Sheldon that drove around me. I tried to keep up, but he was just a little better tonight.
“I feel like I needed to do a little better job of keeping him behind me, but I think his car actually handled a little better getting through some of that lap traffic.”
Sweet cited track conditions as a key factor in his car fading slightly during the closing third of the race, though the Grass Valley, Calif., native was quick to add he wasn’t making excuses for his team.
“I think the track slicked up a little more than what we thought it would, honestly,” he explained. “I just think that we got a little free and then weren’t able to maneuver the lap traffic as good as we wanted to. The car couldn’t do a few things I needed it to do because of that, but that’s racing. We tried hard.
“We need to do a little bit better, obviously,” he added. “We’ll come back for another one and try to get the car just a touch better, try to execute and get this NAPA Auto Parts car into victory lane again.”
Sweet is chasing his milestone 60th career World of Outlaws sprint car victory. If he can achieve the feat during the second night of the Drydene Texas Two-Step, he’d become the 14th Outlaw to reach 60 wins.