By Alex Nieten
PEVELY, MO (April 14, 2023) – Brad Sweet doesn’t need any help reaching Victory Lane at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, but that’s exactly what he got Friday night.
The four-time and defending champion took advantage of some contact between Carson Macedo and David Gravel to top the 40-lap Feature at the Pevely, MO bullring.
It’s Sweet’s third win in the first 13 races of the season, marking the fifth time the Grass Valley, CA native have reached that mark in his illustrious career.
The Kasey Kahne Racing driver also continued to add to his incredible record at I-55. Sweet now owns six triumphs at the third mile, making it tied for the track he’s won at the most. He’s now on a streak of eight consecutive podiums at the facility and owns a 1.75 average finish over that stretch.
Sweet’s 82nd career victory with The Greatest Show on Dirt brings him within two of tying Stevie Smith for 10th all-time. His 264th podium equaled him with Daryn Pittman for the 10th most all-time top-threes.
“Just happy to get the Napa Auto Parts car in Victory Lane,” Sweet said. “Hats off to my guys. We’ve been incredibly consistent and good here at Pevely. Hopefully tomorrow we can come back and do it again. We’ve just got to make a few improvements. I just can’t thank them enough. We’ve had a rough few nights, and a good rebound here tonight gives us a little confidence coming back tomorrow.”
Early in the race, the battle up front quickly brewed between David Gravel and Carson Macedo as the latter slipped by Sweet early on for second while Gravel paced the field.
An early restart saw Gravel and Macedo drive side by side for multiple laps, Gravel around the cushion and Macedo stuck to the bottom. Eventually, Gravel pulled ahead in the Big Game Motorsports #2 but not for long.
As the leaders entered traffic at the halfway mark, Macedo closed in fast. The Jason Johnson Racing pilot rolled by Gravel for the top spot as he struggled with a slower car. In the next corner, Gravel reclaimed the lead with a slide job.
Drama arose only a couple of laps later when Gravel slid slightly above the preferred bottom groove in Turns 3 and 4, giving Macedo an opportunity. Macedo drove in hard, but as he drew alongside Gravel, he drifted up and into the side of Gravel’s machine. The contact sent Gravel around in a 360 and flattened his left rear. Macedo managed to maintain control and keep his car in tact but fell back to third for the ensuing restart based on the timing of the yellow flag. The incident gifted the lead to Sweet.
“Not sure what happened with David,” Sweet explained of his viewpoint. “Luckily, that corner, I went to the top and came out in the lead. I wasn’t sure what happened. I think Carson and David maybe got into each other fighting for that bottom. The bottom really became the dominant lane, and you really couldn’t pass lapped cars up high. It was just a lot of fighting for position.”
Macedo took to social media after the race to claim responsibility and apologize, saying he would never intentionally wreck someone, especially a competitor so close to him in points.
While some good fortune might’ve helped Sweet get the lead, he proved he deserved to run there by pulling away following the restart with 14 laps to go.
Behind Sweet, battles broke out all over the track including for the runner-up spot. Macedo, James McFadden, and Logan Schuchart all began swapping sliders as the laps dwindled and Sweet distanced himself. Ultimately, Sweet took the checkered flag with more than a two second advantage.
After Sweet it was James McFadden completing a thrilling charge from 14th to second for his third podium of the season aboard the Roth Motorsports #83. The effort elevated his top-three career total to 39.
“We got up in the top-10 there early and then got put in the fence on corner entry,” McFadden recalled. “We fell back to about 18th or 20th and fought our way back there. I felt like it got really, really slow down there on the bottom in (Turns) three and four, and I thought, ‘Well, why not? Let’s have a crack, got nothing to lose.’ Then I started picking cars off up there, so hats off to my Roth Motorsports guys. They gave me a really good car all night.”
Completing the top-three was Shark Racing’s Logan Schuchart. The Hanover, PA native earned a podium for the first time since Florida. It marked his 122nd Series podium, equaling him with his grandfather, Bobby Allen, on the all-time list.
“It’s just nice to get our guys on the podium,” Schuchart said. “They’ve been working really hard. I knew coming into this place that it’s a place where we’ve run in the top-five a lot, won the Ironman. We can get ourselves on the podium, but it seems like we can’t win races, but we’re close.”
UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars return to Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on April 15 for night two of the I-55 Outlaw Showdown. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action live on DIRTVision.
A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 49-Brad Sweet; 2. 83-James McFadden; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart; 4. 41-Carson Macedo; 5. 18-Giovanni Scelzi; 6. 52-Blake Hahn; 7. 11-Michael Kofoid; 8. 5-Spencer Bayston; 9. 9-Kasey Kahne; 10. 2-David Gravel; 11. 24-Rico Abreu; 12. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss; 13. 13-Justin Peck; 14. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild; 15. 20G-Noah Gass; 16. 35-Zach Hampton; 17. 15-Donny Schatz; 18. 7S-Robbie Price; 19. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 20. 39M-Anthony Macri; 21. 51B-Joe B Miller; 22. 1A-Jacob Allen; 23. 14T-Tim Estenson; 24. 24W-Garet Williamson