Brad Sweet led just the final lap of the inaugural ATX Rentals Outlaw Shootout feature at Cotton Bowl Speedway Friday night as he outdueled teammate Daryn Pittman on the final turn to capture his third World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series win of the season in a thrilling photo finish.
Sweet, who led the series points coming into the night after he piloted his Razorback/Sage Fruit No. 49 to two victories at the 45th Annual DIRTcar Nationals, posted the sixth fastest time in qualifying then finished second in his heat, putting him in the dash.
The Grass Valley, Calif.-native finished fifth in the dash, while Joey Saldana claimed the top spot in his Roth Enterprises/HR Livestock No. 83, putting him on the pole for the feature event.
Once the green flag fell, Saldana pulled out to an early lead over Daryn Pittman in the Great Clips/Team ASE No. 9. Pittman, who started in the third position, passed the second place starter David Gravel on the initial start.
The race was slowed by three cautions early which gave Pittman the chances he needed to challenge race leader Saldana. Saldana fought Pittman off each time the 2013 series champ tried to muscle his way to the lead. Saldana led the opening 23 laps but was eventually slowed just enough by lapped traffic for Pittman to complete the pass with less than 10 laps remaining.
Pittman enjoyed the top spot for only a few laps as his teammate Sweet applied pressure after he quickly made his way around Saldana for second. Sweet lurked behind Pittman but the leader looked to be the car to beat as the laps winded down.
As the white flag waived, Sweet utilized a run off of turn two to power his way to Pittman’s inside as the leader encountered issues lapped traffic.
Sweet pulled even with Pittman as they entered the final turn. Sweet caught the inside cushion just enough to send his car into Pittman’s as the two made slight contact at the checkered flag.
Sweet bested his teammate by a tenth of a second.
“I just got a really good run off of turn two and I couldn’t really pass it up,” Sweet said. “It’s good that we’re both racing for the win, but I hate to make contact and hopefully there are no hard feelings because I didn’t mean to do that.”
“It’s a long season and we’re off to a good start… (this win) says a lot about Kasey Kahne Racing. It seems like me and Daryn are racing for the win every single night and it’s a testament to our good guys.”
Pittman settled for the runner up position, the second time he has finished second to his teammate with the first coming on the first night of the DIRTcar Nationals.
“We got beat, there’s just no other way to say it,” Pittman said. “Second sucks. There’s too many of these races where our car is good enough to win and I am not finishing the job. I need to figure out what’s wrong and where I am making mistakes to put myself in this position on the last lap.
“This is unacceptable to me. Volusia was unacceptable and here we are two races later letting it happen again. This team deserves better and I am not going to quit or get mad. That’s four races in the last three or four months that I lost off of turn four, leading and being able to see the checkered flag and not getting there first.”
Rounding out the top three was second place starter David Gravel in the Big Game Treestands/JRC No. 5.
“I am so lucky to drive such a good race car,” the native of Watertown, Conn. said. “This early in the year we are running really strong, so I am really looking forward to the rest of the year. We were really close at the end but it’s one of those things where we’ll get a win here shortly.”
Danny Lasoski set the new track record at Cotton Bowl Speedway during time trials with a lap of 13.517 seconds.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series cap off their Texas double header as they head to Royal Purple Raceway located in Baytown, Texas for the O’Reilly Auto Parts presents the World of Outlaws hosted by Kasey Kahne on Saturday night.
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Cotton Bowl Speedway Notebook
RACE NOTES: Brad Sweet picked up his third win in four features so far during the 2016 season. Reigning series champion Donny Schatz has the only other series win… Danny Lasoski set the new track record at Cotton Bowl Speedway during time trials with a lap of 13.517… The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series event at Cotton Bowl Speedway featured the largest ever crowd for the four year old track… Brad Sweet is the only driver so far this season to finish on the podium every night. He is also the season’s laps led leader so far with 47 out front… Paul McMahan has two KSE Racing Hard Charger Awards so far this season.
World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; Cotton Bowl Speedway; Paige, Texas; Feb. 26, 2016
A-Main – (30 Laps) – 1. 49-Brad Sweet  [$10,000]; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 3. 5-David Gravel ; 4. 83-Joey Saldana ; 5. 15-Donny Schatz ; 6. 2-Shane Stewart ; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 8. 41-Jason Johnson ; 9. 33-Danny Lasoski ; 10. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 11. 17W-Bryan Clauson ; 12. 7-Paul McMahan ; 13. 19M-Brent Marks ; 14. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 15. W20-Greg Wilson ; 16. 7S-Jason Sides ; 17. 2C-Wayne Johnson ; 18. 8M-T.J. Michael ; 19. 24-Terry McCarl ; 20. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 21. 21T-Ray Kulhanek ; 22. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr ; 23. 31B-Sheldon Haudenschild ; 24. 82-Dusty Zomer . Lap Leaders: Joey Saldana 1-23, Daryn Pittman 24-29, Brad Sweet 30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 7-Paul McMahan [+10]
-World of Outlaws Press Release. Photo credit: Paul Arch