Brad Sweet Eager To Go From Virtual To Reality On May 8 At Knoxville

Photo Credit Trent Gower

The momentum Brad Sweet was carrying seemed unstoppable.

He won the 2019 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship – winning a career high 16 races to do so, including his second Kings Royal victory. He then went on to win several races in Australia during the off season. And when the World of Outlaws season resumed in February, he picked up another win, another DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator title and reclaimed the points lead.

Then the world shut down. Racing went on hiatus for about two months due to COVID-19  – Sweet’s longest time out of a car in a while, he said.

But now, with the Series returning to racing at Knoxville Raceway on May 8, in a participant-only and broadcast-only event on DIRTVision, “The Big Cat” is eager to pounce.

“I’m excited to go back to Knoxville,” said Sweet, who has five wins at the half-mile track, including the 2018 Knoxville Nationals and a win their last June. “Obviously, it’s a great track for us. We love that track. We had a great Volusia. That’s another half-mile. We talked about going with what we’ve been doing. It’ll be nice to get to the track and get a night under our belts. Hopefully it leads to a lot more.”

The reigning champion has stayed busy during the off time, spending time with his family in California, iRacing, watching race videos and learning new things, like the stock market. He tried to keep his regular workout routine to stay sharp for when racing returned and not overdo it so he could still “attack and be ready,” he said.

But while the gym helped keep him in shape, there are other traits like hand-eye coordination and reaction times it doesn’t maintain. iRacing helped keep Sweet sharp in that category. He doesn’t have a sim rig himself, so a friend in California allowed Sweet to use his rig for when he participated in the “World of Outlaws: eDirt Racing Shootouts” on CBS Sports Network.

“It’s a whole nother world,” Sweet said about iRacing. “There’s a lot of similarities to real racing and then there’s a lot of things that don’t necessarily transition into what we train ourselves for. You have to put a lot of time into it. There’s a lot of guys that spend a lot of time with their setups and stuff. So, that’s pretty neat to be able to put the time in and be really good.”

Sweet picked up on the virtual racing quick. He finished 17th in his first race, ninth in his second and then battled for the win and finished fourth last week at the virtual Eldora Speedway.

“I had a lot of help,” Sweet said. “Nelson Webster, who lives near me and is a really good iracer, he has a really nice sim rig. He allowed me to come into his house even during these times. Let me use his setups, showed me his lines and worked with me one on one. That’s how I was able to do so much better so much quicker. There’s no way I would have been able to have picked up on it without him.”

While he could use similar racing lines and tactics, he’d use in real life on iRacing, the biggest adjustment was not being able to feel the car through his body. He had to learn to “feel” how his car was handling by watching what it did on the screen and through the sim racing steering wheel. It helped keep him sharp with the use of hand-eye coordination and the competitiveness of each event – something Sweet said was surprised to feel.

“Doing those races, I was up on the edge of my seat and just as nervous as real races at times,” he said. “That was kind of unexpected. You want to keep every skill you have sharp. You can work out in the gym all you want but there’s a whole nother skill set that goes into racing.”

He’s scheduled to compete in the “World of Outlaws: eDirt Racing Shootout” Tuesday, May 12, at 8 p.m. (ET) on CBS Sports Network.

On Friday, May 8 he’ll be back in his real NAPA Auto Parts #49 car, along with car owner Kasey Kahne, who is stepping back behind the wheel of his Karavan Trailers #9 at Knoxville Raceway. With the June races at Knoxville still scheduled, Sweet and his team see this May Invitational race as an extra opportunity to prepare for the Knoxville Nationals in August.

“We love laps at Knoxville,” Sweet said. “Knoxville and Eldora are two of the best facilities and obviously anytime we can get laps at those types of track where the biggest races are it’s a bonus. We’re excited to go to Knoxville and get those laps in. Hopefully still get to go there in June and hopefully get to go there in August. Me and my crew chief were talking earlier, and you can tell in both of our voices that we’re excited to get back to the track. It’s hard to have the NAPA car sitting in the garage knowing that you could be out winning races.”

He and crew chief Eric Prutzman stayed in touch during the down time. However, Sweet admitted over time there was only so much for them to talk about. They already shared the same sentiment. They want to go back racing and go after another championship.

“At a certain point we were getting kind of discouraged knowing we have everything in place, and we were supposed to be out, we feel like, winning lots of races this year,” Sweet said. “It’s been discouraging a little. But we’ve stayed positive and obviously looked forward to the day we get back to the track. We stayed in touch somewhat and obviously with Kasey and all of the crew guys really, they’ve been sticking together and social distancing themselves from everybody else. Still kind of getting some work done around the shop. It’s been tough on them I know, probably even more than me because they’re chomping at the bit at the shop ready to go. Everyone is looking forward to it.”

(RELATAED: World of Outlaws announces 16-race schedule through mid-June)

THIS WEEK AT A GLANCE

WHEN & WHERE
Friday, May 8, at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, IA, on DIRTVision. Hot Laps at 6:30 p.m. (CT)/7:30 p.m. (ET) and racing at 7:30 p.m. (CT)/8:30 p.m. (ET).

ABOUT THE TRACK
Knoxville Raceway is a semi-banked half-mile track. The track record is 14.407 sec. set by Brooke Tatnell on May 6, 2006.
Online – KnoxvilleRaceway.com

1/2-MILE WINNERS IN 2019
There were 25 races on a 1/2-mile track last year.
-Volusia Speedway: Daryn Pittman won on Feb. 8 and 9
-The Dirt Track at Las Vegas: Tim Shaffer won on Feb. 27 and Donny Schatz won on Feb. 28
-Perris Auto Speedway: Aaron Reutzel won on March 30
-Devil’s Bowl Speedway: Logan Schuchart won on April 12
-Eldora Speedway: Donny Schatz won on May 10, July 17 and July 19, Brad Sweet won on July 18 and July 20 and Logan Schuchart won on Sept. 27
-Williams Grove Speedway: David Gravel won on May 17 and Oct. 4; Lance Dewease won on May 18; Tim Shaffer won on July 26; Donny Schatz won on July 27 and Brent Marks won on Oct. 5
-Knoxville Raceway: Brian Brown won on June 14; Brad Sweet won on June 15; David Gravel on Aug. 10
-Black Hills Speedway: Carson Macedo won on Aug. 23
-Calistoga Speedway: David Gravel won on Sept. 14
-Lakeside Speedway: Donny Schatz won on Oct. 18
-Port Royal Speedway: Donny Schatz won on Oct. 2

KNOXVILLE RACEWAY PREVIOUS WINNERS
2019 – Brian Brown on June 14, Brad Sweet on June 15, David Gravel on Aug. 10
2018 – Donny Schatz on June 29, David Gravel on June 30, Greg Hodnett on Aug. 8, Brad Sweet on Aug. 9, Logan Schuchart on Aug. 10, Brad Sweet on Aug. 11
2017 – Brad Sweet on June 9, Donny Schatz on June 10
2016 – Terry McCarl on June 10, Donny Schatz on June 11
2015 – Donny Schatz on June 13
2014 – Brad Sweet on June 14
2013 – Donny Schatz on May 11, Donny Schatz on June 15
2012 – Sammy Swindell on April 28, Kerry Madsen on June 9
2011 – Sammy Swindell on June 11
2010 – Brooke Tatnell on June 3, Jac Haudenschild on June 4
2009 – Donny Schatz on May 2, Terry McCarl on June 27
2008 – Donny Schatz on May 3, Shane Stewart on June 6, Donny Schatz on June 7
2007 – Donny Schatz on April 28, Terry McCarl on June 16
2006 – Joey Saldana on June 23, Donny Schatz on Oct. 7
2005 – Kraig Kinser on June 24, Steve Kinser on April 30
2004 – Craig Dollansky on June 26, Mark Kinser on May 1
2003 – Danny Lasoski on April 26, Danny Lasoski on July 5
2002 – Steve Kinser on April 26, Danny Lasoski on June 29
2001 – Danny Lasoski on April 28, Stevie Smith on June 30, Jason Meyers on July 16
2000 – Danny Lasoski on April 29, Stevie Smith on July 1, Steve Kinser on July 19
1999 – Sammy Swindell on May 1, Danny Lasoski on July 3, Danny Lasoski on July 21
1998 – Jac Haudenschild on May 2, Jac Haudenschild on July 4, Jac Haudenschild on July 22
1997 – Mark Kinser on April 26, Jac Haudenschild on July 5, Mark Kinser on July 23
1996 – Mark Kinser on April 27, Mark Kinser on June 22, Mark Kinser on July 24
1995 – Mark Kinser on May 6, Mark Kinser on June 24, Steve Kinser on July 19, Mark Kinser on Sept. 27
1994 – Dave Blaney on April 29, Steve Kinser on June 25, Steve Kinser on July 20, Jac Haudenschild on Sept. 23
1993 – Danny Lasoski on April 30, Mark Kinser on June 27, Stevie Smith on Sept. 24
1992 – Sammy Swindell on April 26, Steve Kinser on June 20, Steve Kinser on July 22, Steve Kinser on Sept. 26
1991 – Steve Kinser on April 27, Doug Wolfgang on June 22, Steve Kinser on July 24
1990 – Doug Wolfgang on April 29, Steve Kinser on June 23, Sammy Swindell on July 25
1989 – Sammy Swindell on April 29, Doug Wolfgang on June 24
1988 – Steve Kinser on April 30, Steve Kinser on June 22
1987 – Steve Kinser on April 25, Steve Kinser on June 22
1986 – Sammy Swindell on April 26, Steve Kinser on June 25, Steve Kinser on July 23
1985 – Sammy Swindell on April 28, Doug Wolfgang on Oct. 6
1984 – Sammy Swindell on July 25
1983 – Sammy Swindell on April 16, Sammy Swindell on July 27, Sammy Swindell on Oct. 16
1982 – Doug Wolfgang on April 17, Danny Smith on July 21
1981 – Steve Kinser on April 18, Doug Wolfgang on May 22, Sammy Swindell on May 23, Sammy Swindell on July 22, Doug Wolfgang on Sept. 12
1980 – Steve Kinser on April 19, Steve Kinser on April 20, Doug Wolfgang on May 31, Tim Green on Sept. 20
1979 – Sammy Swindell on April 21

ON THE INTERNET
World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series
Twitter – Twitter.com/WorldofOutlaws – @WorldofOutlaws
Instagram – Instagram.com/WoOSprint – @woosprint
Facebook – Facebook.com/WorldofOutlaws
YouTube – YouTube.com/WorldofOutlaws
DIRTVision – Dirtvision.com – Get your Fast Pass to watch all races LIVE for only $39/month
Twitter – Twitter.com/DIRTVision – @DIRTVision
Facebook – Facebook.com/WatchDIRTVision

DRIVER INFO
Follow World of Outlaws full-time drivers on Twitter:
Brad Sweet – @BradSweet49
Carson Macedo – @carson_macedo
Daryn Pittman – @darynpittman
David Gravel – @DavidGravel
Donny Schatz – @donnyschatz
Jacob Allen – @JacobAllen1A
Jason Sides – @SidesMotorsport
Kraig Kinser – @KraigKinser11k
Logan Schuchart – @Lschuchart1s
Mason Daniel – @MasonDRacing
Sheldon Haudenschild – @Haudenschild_17
Wayne Johnson – @wjr77x

AROUND THE TURN: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series on Friday, May 22, and Saturday, May 23, will race at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 with a limited crowd and broadcasted on DIRTVision. The first night will be $6,000-to-win and the second night will be $10,000-to-win.

2020 STATS
There have been three World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series Feature events this season.

FEATURE WINNERS (3 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – Wins
1– Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. – 1
– Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, Calif. – 1
– Logan Schuchart, Hanover, Pa. – 1

DRYDENE HEAT RACE WINNERS (10 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – Wins
1 – Daryn Pittman, Owasso, Okla. – 3
2 – Kerry Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Australia – 1
– Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. – 1
– Parker Price-Miller, Kokomo, Ind. – 1
– James McFadden, Warrnambool, VIC, Australia – 1
– Cory Eliason, Visalia, Calif. – 1
– Ian Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Australia – 1
– David Gravel, Watertown, Conn. – 1
– Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, Calif. – 1
– Shane Stewart, Bixby, Okla. – 1

DIRTVISION FAST PASS DASH WINNERS (3 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – Wins
1 – Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. – 1
– Ian Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Australia – 1
– Daryn Pittman, Owasso, Okla. – 1

LAST CHANCE SHOWDOWN WINNERS (3 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – Wins
1 – Lucas Wolfe, Mechanicsburg, Pa. – 1
– Jacob Allen, Hanover, Pa. – 1
–Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, Calif. – 1

PODIUM FINISHES (5 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – # of podiums
1 – Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, Calif. – 3
2 – Logan Schuchart, Hanover, Pa. – 2
– Daryn Pittman, Owasso, Okla. – 2
3 – Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. – 1
– James McFadden, Warrnambool, VIC, Australia – 1

HARD CHARGER AWARD (2 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – H.C. Awards
1 – Sheldon Haudenschild, Wooster, Ohio – 2
2 – Logan Schuchart, Hanover, Pa. – 1

TOTAL LAPS LED (5 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – Laps
1 – Logan Schuchart, Hanover, Pa. – 50
2 – Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, Calif. – 23
3 – Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. – 9
4 – Ian Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Australia – 7
5 – Daryn Pittman, Owasso, Okla. – 1

QUALIFYING QUICK TIME (2 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – QTs
1 – David Gravel, Watertown, Conn. – 2
2 – Daryn Pittman, Owasso, Okla. – 1

FASTEST IN PRACTICE (3 different drivers)
Rank – Driver, Hometown – # of times fastest
1 – Daryn Pittman, Owasso, Okla. – 1
– Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D. – 1
– Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, Calif. – 1

2020 World of Outlaws Schedule & Winners
No. / Day, Date / Track / Location / Winner (Total Wins)
1. Friday, Feb. 7 / Volusia Speedway Park / Barberville, FL / Donny Schatz (1)
2. Saturday, Feb. 8 / Volusia Speedway Park / Barberville, FL / Brad Sweet (1)
3. Sunday, Feb. 9 / Volusia Speedway Park / Barberville, FL / Logan Schuchart (1)
4. Friday, March 13 / Cotton Bowl Speedway / Paige, TX / (Postponed)
5. Saturday, March 14 / LoneStar Speedway / Kilgore, TX / (Canceled)
6. Saturday, March 21 / USA Raceway / Tucson, AZ / (Canceled)
7. Sunday, March 22 / Arizona Speedway / San Tan Valley, AZ / (Canceled)
8. Saturday, March 28 / Perris Auto Speedway / Perris, CA / (Canceled)
9. Sunday, March 29 / Santa Maria Raceway / Nipomo, CA / (Postponed)
10. Friday April 3 / Thunderbowl Raceway / Tulare, CA / (Postponed)
11. Saturday, April 4 / Thunderbowl Raceway / Tulare, CA / (Postponed)
12. Friday, April 10 / Merced Speedway / Merced, CA / (Canceled)
13. Saturday, April 11 / Ocean Speedway / Watsonville, CA / (Canceled)
14. Friday, April 17 / Stockton Dirt Track / Stockton, CA / (Canceled)
15. Saturday, April 18 / Stockotn Dirt Track / Stockton, CA / (Canceled)
16. Friday, April 24 / Vado Speedway Park / Vado, NM / (Canceled)
17. Saturday, April 25 / Vado Speedway Park / Vado, NM / (Canceled)
18. Friday, May 1 / Lawton Speedway / Lawton, OK / (Postponed)
19. Saturday, May 2 / Devil’s Bowl Speedway / Mesquite, TX / (Postponed)
20. Wednesday, May 6 / Jacksonville Speedway / Jacksonville, IL / (Postponed)

Wotld Racing Group PR

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