History was made tonight with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car Series seeing the closest championship battle ever between Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz. Sweet edged out Schatz by four points for the championship, earning his first title in his Outlaws career.
Sweet and Schatz finished second and third in the 30-lap season finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (NC) as part of the Can-Am World Finals, allowing Sweet to maintain his points lead while David Gravel took the checkered flag.
“I was going as hard as I could,” Sweet said. “[David] Gravel was fast and I was cheering him on telling him to go so we could stay in front of Schatz. I’ve never been so happy to finish second in my entire life.”
Both Sweet and Schatz won their respective heat races, but then it was the luck of the draw for the dashes. Sweet started on the outside pole of the first of two Fast Pass dashes, which proved to be the upper hand as Schatz started sixth in the second dash. Sweet went on to finish second in his dash, lining him up for the 30-lap feature from third. Schatz finished fourth in his Dash, placing him eighth for the feature.
As the feature rolled and the championship battle intensified between Sweet and Schatz, Gravel once again proved to be the man to beat as he quickly moved into the lead and never looked back, sweeping World Finals weekend.
“Last night the car was okay, but I had the best racecar tonight, hands down,” Gravel said. “I felt like I got through lapped traffic pretty good and my job was easy. The three best cars all year finished in the top three and I wish we would have been in the points battle, but we finished out the year strong. I can’t thank all my guys enough for everything that they’ve done.”
Meanwhile, Sweet fought off a hard charge from Schatz over the closing laps and went on to capture the 2019 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Championship.
“I can’t thank my NAPA guys enough. It’s a long drive to get to this point and battle for the championship here, but it’s a huge team effort to get these championships. Hats off to Donny Schatz too, he stepped up and put the pressure on us. He’s an unbelievable champion and I don’t know how he’s done this 10 times. We’re just happy to get our first one."
While the points battle loomed, Schatz was battling for the win all night long and knew he left everything on the table to close out the 2019 season.
“We were just racing to win,” Schatz said. “I raced as hard as I could and drove it as hard as I could. My guys did a great job. Those guys were good and Brad (Sweet) had a pretty good run there, it just wasn’t enough for us. At one point I wasn’t even sure if we would be contending for a championship, but my guys rallied back and made it possible. We’re just going to have to swallow it and go home and work hard in the off-season. We’re not done.”
Race fans who missed Saturday’s Can-Am World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte can visit Race Day Now for updates from the event by clicking here.
Unofficial Results - World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Can-Am World Finals
-Story by: Madison Mabry, Speed51 Correspondent - Twitter: @madisonmabry23
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo / Duane Canfield