MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Brad Sweet tacked on eight points to his World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car Series lead during weekend’s National Open at Williams Grove Speedway.
He now holds a 128-point advantage over David Gravel in the chase for the title. It may not seem significant, but in the grand scheme, Sweet’s road to a third-straight series title is a straight shot with seven races left.
Gravel needs to outscore Sweet by an average of 18.3 points per race through the Nov. 6 finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte to come from behind for his first series title. Each race pays 150 points to the winner, 146 for second and a two-point reduction for every following position.
If Sweet’s mean finishing position is eighth or better in the remaining seven races, there’s nothing Gravel can do — not even win every remaining race — to overcome the margin.
During this weekend’s stop at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway, a Gravel win and a Sweet mishap can rearrange the championship scenario.
“It’s a decent lead but it can diminish with a few bad nights,” Sweet said at Williams Grove, where he finished 10th and 15th last weekend. “I think the biggest thing is David and I have both been racing long enough and know I’ve been in this situation where I’m 20 points ahead of Donny [Schatz in 2019] or 40 points ahead of Logan [Schuchart] at this same point last year.”
At this point last year, off the heels of the National Open and seven races left, Sweet’s led Schuchart by 38 points.
Sweet stayed collected and strung together finishes of 11th, eighth, second, second, 11th, third, fourth and second for his second-straight championship.
That put him alongside Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Donny Schatz and Jason Meyers as the only drivers in series history to win back-to-back titles.
For Gravel, the National Open was more disappointing than satisfactory. If there was a weekend to make considerable gains, it would have been National Open weekend.
A power steering outage Friday knocked him out of ninth-place with 10 laps to go. Sweet, meanwhile, had gotten collected in a lap-one wreck and was mired deep in the field.
Gravel finished 25th while Sweet placed 15th, an 18-point difference.
He also has to monitor Carson Macedo, who is just 14 points out of second after his National Open victory Saturday.
“I’m not really worried about it,” Gravel said last week of the points battle. “It’s a pretty big gap. … Right now, man, trying to go out and win races.”
In the $75,000-to-win event Saturday, Gravel started third and held on to fifth. Sweet finished 10th.
At Port Royal, Sweet has one victory that came in 2015, while Gravel has yet to win at the Juniata Valley half-mile clay oval.
After that, Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Lawton (Okla.) Speedway, Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, and the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte are all that remain.
“It could be worse for me, it could be better for him,” Sweet said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to do what we’ve done the past 70 nights of the year. Go out and try to win the race each night.”