From Nick Graziano
CONCORD, NC (November 11, 2019) – The 2019 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series class of drivers traded their motley fire suits for classy jacket and tie attire to be honored Sunday night at the Series’ banquet.
Less than 24 hours after Brad Sweet secured his first World of Outlaws championship – in the closest points battle in the Series’ history by beating Donny Schatz by four points – the Grass Valley, Calif. driver was on stage with team owner Kasey Kahne, accepting his championship trophy and $150,000 check.
“It’s a dream come true to win a World of Outlaws championship,” Sweet said. “To stand up here as a champion is something I dreamed about as a little kid. I went to the Gold Cup (at Silver Dollar Speedway), that was my big race, every single season. I watched Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Donny Schatz. Listened to Johnny Gibson (veteran World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series announcer). Basically, my whole life is this. I never really dreamed I’d stand up here. I never even dreamed I would be a World of Outlaws driver let alone a champion.”
Sweet brought Kasey Kahne Racing its second World of Outlaws championship. The team won its first in 2013 with Daryn Pittman – now the second closest points battle in the Series history with Pittman edging Schatz for the title by 14 points. It’s an accomplishment Kahne cherishes.
“To see what Brad, (crew chief) Eric (Prutzman), (and crew members) Andrew (Bowman) and Joe (Mooney) did throughout the season, start to finish, couldn’t be more proud of those guys,” Kahne said. “We worked really hard for years to win and try to win a championship and they’re just so hard to come by.”
Prutzman was named Crew Chief of the Year. KKR’s chassis builder, Maxim Racing, won the Chassis Builder of the Year Award and the team’s engine builder, Cappetta Engines, won the Engine Builder of the Year Award.
Along with the remaining 12 full-time drivers and teams being honored for their finish in the final 2019 standings, several other special awards were handed out throughout the night.
Series sponsor NOS Energy Drink presented the new NOS Energy Drink Human Horsepower Award, accompanied with a $2,500 check, to fan favorite Jacob Allen for his dedication and passion to the sport. An emotional Allen stole the heart of everyone in the crowd with an honest and compassionate speech about family and his racing mentality. The Hanover, Pa. driver also had the quote of the evening.
“I don’t have an Outlaw win, but I’ll take a nice big check,” he said with a chuckle.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car iRacing champion Alex Bergeron was honored with his $15,200 check and Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing crew member Drew Brenner was presented the Jason Johnson Sportsman for the exuberant passion and positive attitude he brings to every race.
Carson Macedo was officially named the 2019 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. He joked that each race Johnny Gibson would announce him as the “leading rookie contender,” but he was the only contender this year.
“It was a great year,” Macedo said. “Growing up as a kid my dream was to be a World of Outlaws Sprint Car driver… I remember watching Steve Kinser, Donny Schatz race every night and think I would really love to be in that position to drive for a team like Kyle Larson Racing and to put my mark on the sport as a World of Outlaws Sprint Car driver.”
Schatz’s father, Danny Schatz, was honored with the Ted Johnson Memorial Award for his years of dedication and contribution to Sprint Car racing.
The 10-time Series champion’s runner-up finish in points this season was his 14th consecutive year finishing either first or second in the Series standings. Schatz didn’t hide his emotions when talking about his season. He joked he wished Prutzman invited him as his date so he could sit at the champion’s team because he wanted to sit there that badly.
“Twenty-three years I’ve been here,” Schatz said. “It’s a fast pace life. It consumes you. When you want to be on top, you focus. You do whatever. It gets the best of you. There’s been challenges this year… I made changes for the better. I’m proud of myself for that.”
After David Gravel was honored with finishing third in points for the fourth year in-a-row, Jason Johnson Racing team owner, Bobbi Johnson, confirmed Monday that the team will be back full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2020 and Gravel will return for his second season with the team.
“I’m proud of my season,” Gravel said. “I’m proud of what JJR brought to the race track every week… And we’ll see you at Volusia.”
The stars of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will be back in new clean fire suits Feb. 7-9 for the season opening DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida. Get tickets and more information.