ThatsRacin

What racing series is better than NASCAR’s Sprint Cup? Driver Brad Sweet has an idea

Brad Sweet once dreamed of competing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, but says he has found something better – the winged speed of the World of Outlaws tour, which visits Charlotte this weekend.
Brad Sweet once dreamed of competing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, but says he has found something better – the winged speed of the World of Outlaws tour, which visits Charlotte this weekend.

At one time, Brad Sweet had dreams of racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. But nowadays, Sweet believes he’s found something better.

Sweet, 30, drives for Sprint Cup star Kasey Kahne’s team, which is based in Mooresville, on the World of Outlaws’ winged sprint car tour.

That series wraps up its 2016 season this weekend at the World of Outlaws World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte.

Sweet’s relationship with Kahne, which is in its ninth year, began in 2008 when Sweet was signed to race Kahne’s USAC sprint cars and midgets in northern California and the midwestern United States.

It has since led to 20 career WoO A-main victories (including a career-best eight wins this season), and opportunities to race on both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series.

“We’ve got a great friendship, and a great racing relationship as well,” Sweet said. “It’s obviously a privilege to drive for him, because he puts so much into it. It’s a good relationship, probably more than people realize.”

Sweet, of Grass Valley, Calif., has made 36 career starts on the Xfinity Series between 2010-2013, and 18 starts in Camping World Truck Series events between 2009-2011.

Between them, he recorded nine top-10 finishes – a pair of sixth-place runs in Xfinity races (at California in 2012 and Michigan in 2013), and an eighth place at Indianapolis Raceway Park in a Truck Series race in 2010.

But Sweet has had his greatest success in Kahne’s World of Outlaws cars. Since stepping up to the winged sprinters full time in 2014, he has won the series’ rookie of the year title and challenged for the championship the past two seasons.

“People always think you want to get to the highest level, and that’s NASCAR in their eyes,” Sweet said. “But when I was a kid, I dreamed of racing on the World of Outlaws tour. This is the top level for us.

“Do I wish I could’ve had a different opportunity, or maybe a full-time (NASCAR) ride? Yeah, but I don’t have the itch to get back there. I’m pretty happy here. I get to compete for wins and championships in a really high-class ride.”

More NASCAR presence

Kahne isn’t the only NASCAR driver who will be represented in the field for the World of Outlaws World Finals this weekend, with three other Sprint Cup drivers fielding teams.

Three-time series champion Tony Stewart, who is retiring at the end of the 2016 season, owns the team of driver Donny Schatz, who has clinched his third straight and eighth career WoO driver’s title.

Kyle Larson, a former USAC sprint and midget racer, co-owns Larson Marks Racing, which fields WoO sprinters for Shane Stewart.

Clint Bowyer owns a dirt late model team that will field two cars (for veteran drivers Don O’Neal and Darrel Lanigan) in the World of Outlaws late model races.

World of Outlaws World Finals

The Dirt Track at Charlotte

Tickets: $32 Thursday ($11 children 13-under), $53 Friday-Saturday ($17 children 13-under), $106 three-day package ($37 for children 13-under), $100 three-day pit pass (does not include grandstand admission).

Information: Call (800) 455-3267 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

SCHEDULE

Thursday

4 p.m. – Grandstands open.

5 p.m. – Hot laps for WoO Sprint Cars, WoO Late Models and DIRTcar Modifieds.

6 p.m. – Heat races and qualifying.

Friday

3 p.m. – Grandstands open.

4:45 p.m. – Heat races begin.

8 p.m. (approx.) – Feature races begin (DIRTcar Modifieds, 40 laps; WoO Late Models, 50 laps; WoO Sprint Cars, 30 laps).

Saturday

3 p.m. – Grandstands open.

4:45 p.m. – Heat races begin.

8 p.m. (approx.) – Feature races begin (DIRTcar Modifieds, 40 laps; WoO Sprint Cars, 30 laps; WoO Late Models, 50 laps).

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