World of Outlaws–Gator Love: Brad Sweet Claims Victory, Big Gator Trophy

Gator Love: Brad Sweet Claims Victory, Big Gator Trophy
Rolls west with the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series championship points lead
BARBERVILLE, Fla. – Feb. 14, 2016 – Brad Sweet continued his DIRTcar Nationals dominance Sunday night as he scored his second World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series feature victory of the season and claimed the coveted ‘Big Gator’ trophy by winning the Sprint Week championship.

“It’s unbelievable,” Sweet said. “The competition is so stiff that you have to put yourself in position each and every time you’re on the race track and it’s not easy, one mistake and you’re behind the eight ball. Tonight we did pretty much everything right, and luckily the dash draw helped us there because it was going to be a tough track to pass on.”

Sweet, who won the season opening series event at Volusia Speedway Park on Friday night, edged Greg Hodnett, who had been the picture of consistency all week, by just four points to win the ‘Big Gator.’ With Daryn Pittman’s 2015 Sprint Week championship, it is the second year in a row Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb has claimed the ‘Big Gator’ trophy.

The win rounded out a good night for Sweet who kicked it off by scoring the quick time in his No. 49 Razorback Professional Tools car. It was a DIRTcar Nationals quick time sweep for KKR after Sweet’s teammate, Pittman, picked up the award the first two nights.

Joey Saldana, in his opening week with new team Roth Motorsports, led the field to the green flag. Before a lap could be completed there was a yellow flag for a crash and when the 30-lap feature got underway again a red flag flew.

As the feature got underway, Saldana led early with Sweet on his heels. Saldana caught traffic in his No. 83 car on lap eight. A caution again flew, this time on lap nine. The moment proved pivotal for Sweet as he battled past Saldana when the race returned to green. Through the next 20 laps, Sweet was the class of the field, adeptly maneuvering through the field and building distance between he and Saldana.

As the laps wound down, Saldana had his hands full with the No. 1Z of Lucas Wolfe. After a multi-lap battle, Wolfe, the 2008 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, got side-by-side with Saldana in turn one and completed the pass on the back straight.

Through the closing laps Saldana worked to hold off David Gravel, as Wolfe tried to run down Sweet. When the final checkered flag fell on sprint week, it was another Sweet victory.

“Hats off to these guys, it’s an unbelievable car to driver,” Sweet said. “To show up down here like that, and we had a chance to win every single night, and all three of the Outlaw nights. Tonight going fast time, winning the heat and the main event, the only thing we didn’t do is win the dash, so it’s a hat off to [my crew].”

Through the first three features of the very young 2016 season, Sweet leads the championship standings by 27 points over Hodnett.

For Wolfe, a second place showing Sunday night was a rebound over Saturday where he failed to make the feature.

“It was a great way to end the whole week for all of us at Zemco racing,” Wolfe said. “It was a good race for us, we were able to catch a few breaks there at the start moving us up a row, and I was competitive the whole race which was good. I was able to get by Joey and Brad getting caught behind the lapped car there allowed me to catch up, but once he got around him I was faced with the same thing and never got quite clear of him. It was a good result for us, I think we were strong enough to challenge Brad at the end there just could never get to him. So we’re going to go back home and get everything ready for our season back down there.”

Wolfe finished Sprint Week 11th in the overall standings.

Saldana, who closed out Sprint Week fifth overall in the standings, worked through the week to find a rhythm with his new team and build toward the season ahead.

“Tonight we put the whole night together, we qualified well and did everything right, we just got a little free and messed up on a restart,” Saldana said. “I think even if I choose the outside, I would get beat on the bottom. But hats off to Brad, he had the speed. When we got to the lapped cars at the end I could hang with him, but when we had to move around I couldn’t move, I was kinda stuck on the cushion. It was a great effort by the whole Roth team, I can’t thank Theresa and Dennis enough for the opportunity and their commitment to the Outlaws. Hopefully we can do better than we did tonight in a couple of weeks.”

Jason Johnson was the night’s KSE Racing Hard Charger, advancing six positions to finish 12th.