BRANDON, S.D. — Brad Sweet led early and led often at Badlands Motor Speedway on Saturday night, finding luck and persevering to score his seventh World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
Sweet, who took the checkered flag at the track for the first time in his career, lost the lead to Rico Abreu on lap 10. When Abreu got too low on the track and caught a tire barrier sending him flipping on to the front straight, Sweet regained the lead. Through a couple of close calls, it was smooth sailing to the end.
Sweet’s win is his first since May 13 at Plymouth Speedway.
“It feels good. This team needed that win — we’ve been in a bit of a slump,” Sweet said. “We just haven’t been able to compete for wins over the last 10 or 15 races. We started out the season really strong and then kind of fell off there. So it’s nice to get back to victory lane and give these guys some confidence.”
Sweet led early in the feature as the battle behind him turned intense. Joey Saldana battled to fifth by lap three while Kerry Madsen moved in to second. A charging Abreu though was the man to watch as he picked off multiple positions and set his sights on Sweet. As Sweet worked his way through lapped traffic with eight laps complete, Abreu caught Sweet and then passed him as the two worked their way off of turn three.
Abreu’s lead was short-lived though as he dove low off of turn four he caught a tire barrier which sent him flipping. Abreu was OK but his night was over.
When the field returned to green, Sweet retook the lead as the jockeying for the second and third place positions got underway. Saldana got around Kerry Madsen for third and then Jason Johnson began his assault on the top spots.
Johnson took over third on lap 16 and then took over second on lap 30. As the field bunched up in traffic, Johnson looked to have a shot at Sweet in the lead but a tire gave way, sending Johnson into the turn-one wall. Johnson was alert following the crash but was transported to an area hospital for further evaluation.
When the field returned to green, Sweet built up a strong lead over Saldana and David Gravel.
“The Ollie’s Bargain Outlet car was phenomenal all night long,” Sweet said. “In the A main we could really get moving around the top. We could move around too. I was just waiting to see if someone was going to show me a nose.
“Forty laps around here is a long race. It’s a California kind of race. It’s short and you’ve got to attack the corners. I’m really proud of my guys.”
With his win, Sweet chipped away at Donny Schatz’s point lead, bringing the lead to 72.
Saldana, who had an issue late, ran near the front most the night in his No. 83 Roth Motorsports car and closed out the night in second.
“Definitely very lucky tonight. About five or six to go my belts came undone,” Saldana said. “So I’m just trying to finish the race and then Jason crashes in front of me. So that’s not what you want to see — hopefully he’s OK. Luckily we finished the night on the front straightaway. We’ll take it and come back tomorrow.”
Gravel, who closed out the night in third had his sights set on Sunday at Badlands and improving on the team’s podium finish.
“We didn’t get in the dash like we wanted to so to finish on the podium is great,” Gravel said. “We had a really good car there in the middle of the race. We faded a little bit late but Brad and Joey had really good cars. We probably had a third or fourth place car but with Jason blowing a tire that put us third. We’re really happy with third.”