By Tony Veneziano
HARTFORD, Mich. — July 9, 2019 — The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series makes their only trip of the season to Michigan this week for a visit to Hartford Speedway on Friday, July 12. The series has raced at the track eight times over the years and has seen a different driver visit victory lane in each of those events. David Gravel was the most recent victor in 2017, in what marked the series’ first race on the three-eighths-mile configuration, of what used to be a sprawling half-mile. This edition of Up to Speed sets the stage for the “Battle of Michigan” at Hartford Speedway, which serves as the series only visit of the season to the state of Michigan.
Hartford Speedway is a three-eights-mile, which was re-configured a couple of years ago from its original half-mile layout. The track record of 13.731-seconds was established by David Gravel on July 28, 2017. Gravel also holds the track record on the former half-mile.
Kasey Kahne, who retired from NASCAR following the 2018 season, will be a special guest at Hartford Speedway. The Washington native will sign autographs from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Kahne owns the No. 49 of current series point leader Brad Sweet as well as the No. 9, which is being driven by Australian James McFadden, while Kahne recovers from injury. McFadden will be competing at Hartford.
David Gravel was victorious in 2017, which marked the series’ first race on the three-eighths-mile version of the track. Gravel and Brad Sweet traded the lead three times, with the former taking the lead for the final time with just three laps remaining.
Shane Stewart won in 2016 in the last race on the half-mile for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series. The veteran driver jumped into the lead at the start of the race from the outside of the front row and held off Donny Schatz for the victory.
Joey Saldana was victorious at Hartford Speedway in 2011. Dave Blaney, the 1995 World of Outlaws champion won the series debut at the track in 1996, while three-time series titlist Sammy Swindell, also won that season at Hartford. Steve Kinser, the 20-time series champion, as well as two-time title winner Jason Meyers are also past winners at Hartford Speedway, as is Brian Paulus.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series has 13 card-carrying members this year, led by Brad Sweet, who has a series-best nine wins. Donny Schatz is currently second in points, with David Gravel third, Daryn Pittman fourth and Logan Schuchart fifth. Shane Stewart currently sits sixth in the standings, followed by Carson Macedo in seventh, Ian Madsen in eighth, Sheldon Haudenschild in ninth and Brent Marks in 10th. Kraig Kinser, Jacob Allen and Jason Sides are also on the tour again in 2019.
Oh, so close
Hartford Speedway is one of the few tracks on the World of Outlaws schedule where 10-time series champion Donny Schatz has never won. The North Dakota native has three runner-up finishes at the track. Schatz has finished sixth or better in all five of the main events he has qualified for at Hartford. Schatz is a past winner in the state of Michigan at both Berlin Raceway and I-96 Speedway.
One man band-plus one (this weekend)
Jason Sides has competed in each of the last six races the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series has contested at Hartford Speedway. The native of Bartlett, Tenn., has a best finish of seventh in 2016, which was the last race the series ran on the former half-mile. Sides is a past winner in the state of Michigan at I-96 Speedway. The veteran driver will run a two car operation at Hartford as Californian Tim Kaeding rejoins the team for the weekend.
Among the top-10
Daryn Pittman and Kraig Kinser have each finished among the top-10 in four of their respective five-career starts at Hartford. Pittman, the 2013 series champion, finished a career-best fifth in 2003 and again in 2016. Kinser finished fourth in 2005 and was fifth in the series most recent visit to Hartford in 2017.
David Gravel has won each of the last two years in the state of Michigan. He was victorious in the series most recent visit to Hartford Speedway in 2017 and picked up a win at I-96 Speedway last year. Gravel has finished sixth or better in all three of his Outlaws starts at Hartford. Gravel won both of those races driving for the CJB Motorsports, the team that Shane Stewart is driving for this year. Stewart will look to extend the team’s win streak in the state of Michigan. The Oklahoma native won at Hartford in 2015, driving for Kyle Larson Racing.
On the podium
Brad Sweet and Logan Schuchart both finished on the podium in 2017 at Hartford. Sweet led twice for a total of 25 laps, before finishing second to David Gravel in the 30-lap contest. Schuchart methodically worked his way from the eighth starting spot to finish third.
Moving on up
Brent Marks finished fourth at Hartford in 2017, which marked the best finish of his rookie season with the Outlaws. The young Pennsylvanian started 15th and charged from the middle of the pack to finish among the top-five. Marks broke through last season, earning his first-career Outlaws win and following that up with two more triumphs.
A handful of starts
Sheldon Haudenschild has made three starts at Hartford Speedway in his career, while Jacob Allen has made two. Haudenschild’s has made two of those appearances with the All Star Circuit of Champions, picking up a win, along with an Outlaws event. Allen has made both of his starts at the track with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
Carson Macedo, is the leading contender for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the World of Outlaws. The California native, who drives for Kyle Larson Racing, competed with the Outlaws at Hartford Speedway in 2017, finishing 12th in that event. Macedo has a pair of wins this season and is seventh in points.
Ian Madsen, the reigning Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, will be making his Hartford Speedway debut this weekend. The Australian has raced with the series in the past in Michigan at I-96 Speedway. Madsen has one win this season and is eighth in points.
Fans can save $5 on General Admission, when purchased at participating O’Reilly Auto Parts locations.
Tickets for the “Battle of Michigan,” featuring the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series at Hartford Speedway in Hartford, Michigan on Friday, July 12 and can be purchased online at slspromotions.ticketforce.com or by calling SLS Promotions at 815-344-2023 and at the track on race day.
Facebook: SLS Promotions LLC