OUTLAW NOTES: Sweet Receives Ring No. 5


Brad Sweet (left) received his 2023 World of Outlaws championship ring Wednesday from Jeff Hachmann. (World Racing Group photo)

BARBERVILLE, Fla. – Though he’s chasing a different crown this year with the pursuit of the inaugural High Limit Racing national championship, Brad Sweet still got to collect one more laurel from the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series Wednesday evening at Volusia Speedway Park.

As part of Wednesday’s opening ceremonies at the half-mile dirt oval, Sweet was presented with the championship ring for his 2023 World of Outlaws sprint car title during the 53rd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals. He later went on to win the 25-lap feature that capped off the program.

Sweet’s run to a historic fifth straight World of Outlaws sprint car crown was punctuated by 11 wins, 44 top-five and 64 top-10 finishes in 71 feature starts in the NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 for Kasey Kahne Racing.

The Grass Valley, Calif., native received his fifth Outlaws championship ring from World Racing Group Executive Director of Events Jeff Hachmann.

“It’s been pretty surreal to put our names in some of the record books that we’ve been able to,” said Sweet. “The NAPA Auto Parts team is right up there now with Donny [Schatz] and Steve Kinser in that category, and that’s pretty good company.

“It’s a testament to my team,” Sweet added. “We’ve spent 10 years on the Outlaw tour, made so many great memories, and achieved so many great things. I’ve got nothing but respect for everyone here and now … we’re doing something a little bit different. I’m excited to cheer on whoever the next champion will be, and proud of the effort that went into our accomplishments over the last five years.”

Sweet joins Kinser (1983-’88; 1990-‘94) and Schatz (2014-‘18) as just the third driver in the 46-year history of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series to win the points championship in five or more straight years.

Kinser’s string of six straight Outlaws titles from 1983 through 1988 remains the tour standard.

– Justin Peck proved a podium finish in 360ci sprint car action last month at Volusia Speedway Park was no fluke, coming back for the DIRTcar Nationals and showing well with the Buch Motorsports No. 13.

Peck raced his way into the nightcap via his heat race, started 13th in the 25-lapper and finished 13th after a track rework hampered the speed of his car somewhat.

It was a decent start to the American portion of Peck’s season. The Monrovia, Ind., driver spent a portion of the winter racing in Australia before recently returning to the United States in preparation for the High Limit Racing championship chase.

“We seemed to race pretty well all night and got through dirty air pretty decently. The car was good; we were just free in qualifying, and I jumped the curb on my second lap to put us behind [the 8-ball] for the heat race,” Peck noted. “Overall, though, we’ve been rolling as a team, and we’ll try to keep it going.”

– Jacob Allen rallied his Shark Racing team from a blown engine during Tuesday’s practice night to a feature lock-in and 17th-place finish in Wednesday’s 25-lap DIRTcar Nationals opener.

It was a needed comeback for the No. 1a crew, which will move to East Bay Raceway Park in nearby Gibsonton, Fla., following the DIRTcar Nationals to begin Allen’s pursuit of the High Limit Racing title.

“We had a great showing, overall,” Allen tipped. “I think we were good for a lot of the night and it gave me a lot of confidence, especially being able to be right with Brad during the heat race. Our car’s fast, and that’s always a good feeling.”

This year marks the first time since debuting full-time on the Outlaws trail in 2014 that Allen does not plan to run the full season with The Greatest Show on Dirt.

He started out full time last year, but stepped away from racing for several months in late July to focus on his family. Allen returned back behind the wheel during the World Finals in November at The Dirt Track at Charlotte prior to his offseason announcement that he was shifting to the High Limit Sprint Car Series.

– Prior to Wednesday night, Rico Abreu hadn’t raced at Volusia Speedway Park since 2018. He certainly didn’t show many signs of rust at the half-mile dirt oval, however.

Abreu dominated his heat race and qualified for the Toyota Dash, starting among the first four rows for the 25-lap feature and racing toward the front of the field for the majority of the program.

Fading slightly over the final 10 laps, Abreu ended up 12th but felt comfortable with his racecar overall.

“Practice was a big advantage for us, just to get some seat time,” Abreu explained. “This track is very unique in the style of racing it puts on and the surface here; it takes a minute to adapt to that.

“I’m just happy to be back sprint car racing in this position,” added the St. Helena, Calif., native, who will also chase the High Limit Racing crown this year. “We’re going to have a lot of fun this year.”

– Until recently, 10-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz was the only driver to have regularly campaigned with Ford Performance’s FPS410 sprint car engine.

That changed during the offseason, as Rudeen Racing inked a deal to run the Ford power plants in their sprint cars this year with Zeb Wise – the final All Star Circuit of Champions titlist – at the controls.

Wise and Rudeen Racing took the FPS410 to victory in All Star competition at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway’s half-mile on Aug. 20 last year, and the Ford motors have seemed to have steam on the bigger tracks. Both Wise and Schatz had top-six speed in hot laps and were consistent early in the night.

Schatz locked into the main through his heat race, ultimately finishing sixth, while Wise had to race in through the Last Chance Showdown and ended up 22nd in the end.

– Of interest outside the sprint car pits, a loaded field of DIRTcar UMP modifieds saw more than 100 drivers sign in to race, including former NASCAR stars Ken Schrader and Kenny Wallace, as well as current Xfinity Series regular Justin Allgaier and three-time Craftsman Truck Series champion Matt Crafton.

Perhaps the most notable driver in the modified field, however, was 82-year-old Buzzie Reutimann, the father of 2009 Coca-Cola 600 winner David Reutimann.

Known simply as “Buzzie” in the pit area, the elder Reutimann won a modified feature at Volusia as recently as last August and also held the class point lead at the half mile for a time during the summer.

Asked by Outside Groove last year when he might hang up the helmet, Buzzie said simply, “Never. I enjoy what I’m doing and I’m still competitive.”

Reutimann raced forward from 15th to 11th in his 20-lap DIRTcar UMP modified feature Wednesday, one of six modified mains run during the program alongside the World of Outlaws sprint car opener.

About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.