By Brian Walker
CHICO, CA – September 7, 2022 – The 68th Gold Cup Race of Champions presented by Riebes Auto Parts has finally arrived.
Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, CA is set to host 60 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series competitors this weekend as the most famous Sprint Car event on the West Coast returns for another year. Marking the first running for SLC Promotions, they’ve brought back the split-field preliminary shows, they’ve changed up the format, they’ve added more money to the purse, and they’ve brought back the pre/post-race fun.
The four-day event officially begins on Wednesday with a Sprint Car Challenge Tour 360 race and Tim Dugger concert, then The Greatest Show on Dirt headlines the slate from Thursday-Saturday. After the split-field races on Thursday and Friday, they’ll all come back on Saturday to battle for the famed Gold Cup and a $25,000 payday.
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Let’s look at what to watch for this weekend on DIRTVision.com:
SPLIT-FIELD: For the first time since 2009, the Gold Cup Race of Champions returns to split-field tradition with half the field racing in Thursday’s preliminary and the other half in Friday’s preliminary. It’s a unique claim that only the Knoxville Nationals and Gold Cup can make on the current World of Outlaws schedule. Like Knoxville, Thursday & Friday victories will not count as official Series wins, but Saturday’s $25,000-to-win finale will count in the record books.
Thursday’s list includes the likes of Kyle Larson, Brad Sweet, Logan Schuchart, Sheldon Haudenschild, James McFadden, Corey Day, Ryan Timms, Justin Sanders, Mitchell Faccinto, Willie Croft, Tanner Carrick, Andy Forsberg, and more.
Friday’s field features names such as Donny Schatz, David Gravel, Carson Macedo, Jacob Allen, Spencer Bayston, Dominic Scelzi, Tim Kaeding, Shane Golobic, Bud Kaeding, Kerry Madsen, Austin McCarl, DJ Netto, Colby Copeland, and more.
TITLE DEFENSE: Last year, Logan Schuchart became the first Pennsylvania native to win the Gold Cup since “The Black Bandit” Stevie Smith did it in 1993. He’ll return to Silver Dollar Speedway this weekend trying to become the fifth driver in World of Outlaws history to win back-to-back Gold Cup titles – joining Kyle Larson (2011-12), Steve Kinser (2002-03), Jac Haudenschild (1998-99), and Andy Hillenburg (1994-95).
A three-time World of Outlaws winner in 2022, Schuchart’s Shark Racing team has collected wins at Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway, Jackson (MN) Motorplex, and Skagit (WA) Speedway last week. If it can’t be the #1S, his #1A teammate could be a contender to follow him up as well. Jacob Allen is another three-time winner this year, enjoying a career-year and a career-best streak with nine consecutive top-10 finishes entering this week.
KEEPING THE CUP: For a pair of California natives on the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series trail, the Gold Cup Race of Champions offers a chance to win the biggest race in their home state. Both Brad Sweet, of Grass Valley, CA, and Carson Macedo, of Lemoore, CA, are multi-time winners at Silver Dollar Speedway, yet neither have claimed the prestigious Gold Cup finale to this point.
Sweet, who currently leads the standings in pursuit of a fourth straight World of Outlaws title, will have no thoughts of point-racing this week. The Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 has topped two Gold Cup prelims and finished on the podium of Saturday’s finale multiple times, but still chases that elusive title in the event he now promotes.
Macedo, who leads the Series with an impressive 11 victories, returns to the site of his first-career World of Outlaws win this week. He’s conquered Silver Dollar in the Tarlton Racing #21, Kyle Larson Racing #2, and now hopes to add the Jason Johnson Racing #41 to that list this week.
They’re trying to become the seventh Californian in the World of Outlaws era to win Gold Cup, a list headlined by Johnny Anderson (1980), Darrell Hanestad (1989), Jason Meyers (2010, 2013), Kyle Larson (2011-12), Jonathan Allard (2014), and Rico Abreu (2016, 2018).
LOCAL LOVE: As usual, when the World of Outlaws roll into California the home-state heroes are ready to step up and showcase their talents to the world. That will be no different this weekend as the race they all grew up idolizing begins the return to glory. The names to watch are plentiful.
The top-seven in NARC 410 points will all be in action including Dominic Scelzi, Willie Croft, Bud Kaeding, Mitchell Faccinto, Max Mittry, Shane Golobic, and Justin Sanders. There’s also Tanner Carrick, who led half of last year’s Feature before his tail tank come loose. Don’t forget about Core Day either, the 16-year-old sensation topped a NARC show at Silver Dollar earlier this year and already owns two World of Outlaws runner-up finishes.
There are several others to look for including Tim Kaeding, Andy Forsberg, Kaleb Montgomery, Sean Becker, DJ Netto, Joel Myers Jr., Ryan Bernal, Chase Johnson, Blake Carrick, and more.
MEN OF MANY HATS: The 2022 edition of Gold Cup is the first to be operated by new Silver Dollar Speedway promoters SLC Promotions – Brad Sweet, Kyle Larson, Colby Copeland. The three California friends, who grew up in the golden era of Gold Cup, are committed to bringing the West Coast staple back to national fame. They’ve split the field, they’ve added more money, they’ve brought back the party atmosphere, and so much more as they begin to fulfill that dream this week.
Along with their managerial duties, each of the three promoters will be swapping out their radio for a helmet at some point this week. Larson and Sweet will compete in Thursday’s preliminary with Copeland running in Friday’s preliminary before the big dance on Saturday.
THE FORMAT: With roughly 60 cars entered for this weekend’s Gold Cup, fans can expect 30-ish cars to qualify on both Thursday and Friday before Saturday’s finale. The prelim format includes Qualifying, four Heat Races, a Last Chance Showdown, and Feature. Racers will be battling for points every time they hit the track with each session progressively weighing more to incentivize the competition. It starts with Qualifying at 100 down by one-point, then Heats at 100 down by two-points, and then Features at 200 down by three-points.
A Heat Race inversion will also be used with the top-24 overall qualifiers flip-flopped into Heats, placing QuickTime sixth and needing a top-five transfer to make his preliminary Feature. After prelims, the top-two point-getters from both Thursday and Friday will lock-in for Saturday’s $25,000-to-win finale. The next 40 in points will go to Heat Races on Saturday with winners earning a ticket to the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash alongside the locked-in drivers.
THIS WEEKEND AT A GLANCE
WHEN AND WHERE
Thursday-Saturday, September 8-10 at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, CA
ON THE INTERNET
World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series
Twitter – @WorldofOutlaws
Instagram – @WoOSprint
Facebook – Facebook.com/WorldofOutlawsSprintCarSeries
YouTube – Youtube.com/WorldofOutlaws
DIRTVision – DIRTVision.com – Platinum annual FAST PASS for $299 or monthly FAST PASS for $39/month
CURRENT CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (59/75 Races):
1. 49-Brad Sweet (7,556 PTS); 2. 2-David Gravel (-72 PTS); 3. 41-Carson Macedo (-98 PTS); 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild (-206 PTS); 5. 15-Donny Schatz (-208 PTS); 6. 1S-Logan Schuchart (-310 PTS); 7. 83-James McFadden (-466 PTS); 8. 5-Spencer Bayston (-500 PTS); 9. 1A-Jacob Allen (-652 PTS); 10. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss (-820 PTS)