CALISTOGA, Calif. — April 5, 2014 — It was friends and family night for California native Brad Sweet on Saturday at Calistoga Speedway after he held off Brian Brown in a thriller for his third World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
Sweet and Brown flipped the lead several times in traffic before Sweet, of Grass Valley, Calif., pulled ahead for the victory in the waning laps, kicking off a victory celebration that included several of his friends and family members from his native Golden State.
Brown, who lost the lead while working through lapped traffic, held on for the runner-up finish. Joey Saldana started and finished in third while Donny Schatz was fourth and another hometown hero, Rico Abreu, rounded out the top-five on the first of two nights of World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series action at Calistoga.
Brown jumped out to a quick lead over pole-sitter Schatz. Brown continued to lead on lap six when the caution flew for David Gravel, winner of the previous event at Merced Speedway last Friday night. On the restart, a red flag would fly for contact with Bud Kaeding and Austin Wheatley. The ensuing restart was single-file as Brown continued to lead. On lap 11 the leaders hit lapped traffic at the half-mile oval. A bobble in traffic on lap 12 cost Brown the lead as Sweet, behind the wheel of the Kasey Kahne Racing SurePointMedical.com #49 drove by him in turn four.
Brown regained his composure and continued to track Sweet with virtually no distance between the two around the half-mile oval. Brown’s persistence paid off on lap 14 when Sweet had to check up for a lapped car on the backstretch allowing Brown to blow by him on the inside.
Sweet continued to push for the lead and made the pass for the win on lap 16. Brown had a final chance to battle for victory after a caution on lap 21 for Paul McMahan with a flat right rear tire. On the restart Brown began to get a run on Sweet when the red flag was thrown for DJ Netto and Lucas Wolfe making contact. Brown slung the FVP/Casey’s General Store #21 to the top of the track to try to pass while Sweet drove to the bottom and was able to maintain his advantage.
Sweet held on for the remaining few circuits to collect the victory in the 25-lap A-main.
“Holy cow that was tough!” Sweet said. “The track guys worked their butts off and gave us a good race track. I was lucky enough to get that caution (lap 21) because I was really hanging on for a minute. We were able to get through the dash and gain a row, then got really good starts in the A. Thank you to all my friends and family that are here, I’m glad you got to see me win and thanks to all the fans for coming out.”
Brown continues to close in on his first victory with the series, missing by one position on Saturday night.
“It was kind of tough you know when you got to traffic,” said Brown, of Grain Valley, Mo. “I think we had the fastest car out in clean air, but when you get to traffic and just slow down and hit the holes wrong, you’re just along for the ride. After the month we’ve had a second feels like a win. We’re disappointed, but we’re definitely not ungrateful.”
Saldana began the night by shattering Mark Kinser’s 1997 track record with a lap of 15.731 seconds then finishing third in the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw #71M.
“I race these things, but I’m also a fan, and that was an awesome race,” said Saldana, of Brownburg, Ind. “I just wish I was in it. Lapped traffic I knew would be a key and just whoever hit it at the right time, and that yellow flew just right for Brad. If I was going to have a chance I didn’t need that yellow. It was a good race and a solid night for us, I’ll take it. I’m very happy with that and come back tomorrow and hopefully do a little better.”
McMahan after changing a tire and bringing out a caution late in the race settled for an 18th-place finish that led to five-time champion Schatz recapturing the point lead by solid 23 points over McMahan. The 2013 World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion, Daryn Pittman, sits just one point back of McMahan with Brad Sweet in the fourth position, 45 points outside of the lead.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series returns to Calistoga Sunday night to complete the weekend. Action will be moved up one hour with racing starting at 6 p.m.
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; Calistoga (Calif.) Speedway; April 5, 2014
A-Main – (25 Laps): 1. 49-Brad Sweet  [$10,000]; 2. 21-Brian Brown  [$5,000]; 3. 71M-Joey Saldana  [$3,000]; 4. 15-Donny Schatz  [$2,700]; 5. 24-Rico Abreu  [$2,500]; 6. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$2,200]; 7. 29-Kerry Madsen  [$2,000]; 8. 4-Cody Darrah  [$1,800]; 9. 1-Sammy Swindell  [$1,600]; 10. 11-Steve Kinser  [$1,450]; 11. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$1,300]; 12. 83-Tim Kaeding  [$1,200]; 13. 3C-Jonathan Allard  [$1,100]; 14. 21M-Jason Meyers  [$1,000]; 15. 83SA-David Gravel  [$950]; 16. 41-Dominic Scelzi  [$900]; 17. 83JR-Kyle Hirst  [$850]; 18. 51-Paul McMahan  [$750]; 19. 5W-Lucas Wolfe  [$725]; 20. 88N-DJ Netto  [$700]; 21. 44W-Austen Wheatley  [$700]; 22. 1S-Logan Schuchart  [$700]; 23. 7S-Jason Sides  [$700]; 24. O-Bud Kaeding  [$700].
Lap Leaders: Brian Brown 1-12, 15-16; Brad Sweet 13-14, 17-25.
KSE Hard Charger Award: 83-Tim Kaeding [+7]