By Alex Nieten
BRANDON, SD (June 20, 2023) – History awaits. The richest payday for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series awaits.
The Billion Auto Huset’s High Bank Nationals presented by Menards is here.
Four days of racing (June 21-24) will begin with three preliminary nights that each award $20,000 to the winner. Those will set the stage for Saturday and the largest payday in World of Outlaws history. The driver who parks in Victory Lane when the dust settles on the finale will have a $250,000 check awaiting them.
The massive event has already drawn a pre-entry list of 56 of the nation’s best Sprint Car drivers. They’ll all converge in Brandon, SD to battle for a quarter of a million dollars and a place in Sprint Car history.
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Let’s look at some of the weekend’s top storylines:
THE FORMAT: Such a special race calls for a unique format, and that’s exactly what’s been organized.
Points and inverts are the name of the game. Each of the three prelims will begin with points being awarded for Qualifying. Heat Races will be lined up with a six-car invert. The top 20 in combined Qualifying and Heat points will be locked into the Feature with the top eight heading to the redraw. The Last Chance Showdown and C-Main will be lined up by points with the top two from the “C” joining the Last Chance Showdown and the top four from that joining the Feature.
Each driver will get to drop their worst of the three prelim nights. Saturday’s format will feature a “King of the Hill” that includes top point earners from the prelims and the winners of either four or six (depending on car count) qualifiers. Those qualifiers will be lined up based on points and also help determine a majority of the finale’s lineup with the Last Chance Showdown supplying the final couple rows.
HIGH BANK HAUDENSCHILD: In last year’s High Bank Nationals finale, Sheldon Haudenschild lived up to his reputation of being one of the sport’s most exciting drivers. With five laps to go, he was sixth. When the white flag flew, he was third. In Turns 1 and 2 on the final circuit, he blasted to the lead and went on to claim the win and $100,000.
The Wooster, OH native looks to repeat in 2023 with more than double the money on the line. On top of last year’s High Banks glory, Haudenschild also topped a 2020 Series race at Huset’s.
He and his Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing crew enter the important week on the highest note possible as the most recent winner having triumphed this past Saturday at Beaver Dam Raceway.
BIG GAME HOME GAME: Plenty of eyes will be on David Gravel this week. The Watertown, CT pilots the Big Game Motorsports #2 owned by Huset’s Speedway owner – Tod Quiring.
Gravel enters the High Bank Nationals on a hot streak with three consecutive top-two finishes including a win at Knoxville. He’s also only 10 points behind Brad Sweet in the chase for the championship.
The 30-year-old has experienced plenty of success at Huset’s in his career. Gravel has topped a pair of World of Outlaws races at the 3/8-mile – both in 2021. In his 14 career Series starts at the Brandon, SD oval, he’s finished in the top-five eight times.
MACEDO MAGIC: One driver who may be most hungry for the $250,000 is Carson Macedo.
Last year, the Jason Johnson Racing pilot topped the penultimate night for his first Huset’s victory. Then on the final night, Macedo appeared headed for the checkered flag by starting from the pole and leading the first 34 circuits. But then he faded to fifth in the closing laps.
Macedo has been one of the fastest cars all season with a trio of wins under his belt, and he’ll go for redemption this week with even higher stakes than last year.
DONNY IN THE DAKOTAS: Any trip to the Dakotas is a special on for 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz. He may be from North Dakota, but he made plenty of trips to the south to Huset’s while cutting his teeth in Sprint Cars.
Schatz is a four-time World of Outlaws Feature winner at Huset’s – most recently claiming a 2016 visit. The Fargo, ND driver has struggled in recent appearances at the facility with no finish better than sixth in the last four races. But prior to that he had a stretch of five podiums in nine races.
It’s been an up and down 2023 so far for Schatz. The Tony Stewart/Curb Agajanian Racing driver has 13 finishes outside the top 10 but also owns seven podiums including a pair of wins through 30 races.
BAYSTON BREAKTHROUGH?: More than a quarter of the way through his second season with the World of Outlaws, Spencer Bayston is still chasing his first win of the year. Huset’s Speedway might be the place where he’s primed to breakthrough.
One of Bayston’s four career Series victories occurred at the 3/8-mile last year on opening night of the High Bank Nationals. The Lebanon, IN native also finished fourth there two nights later.
That victory last June remains the CJB Motorsports driver’s most recent with the Series – a fact he hopes to change this week.
BIG MONEY VICTORS: As expected, the lucrative event has attracted some of the sport’s top talent that plan to accompany the World of Outlaws full-timers.
Kyle Larson has entered in Paul Silva’s #57. The 28-time World of Outlaws Feature winner is no stranger to claiming high-paying Sprint Car races. Larson topped both the Kings Royal ($175,000) and Knoxville Nationals ($150,000 plus lap money) in 2021. The Elk Grove, CA native topped a 2020 World of Outlaws race at Huset’s.
One of the nation’s hottest drivers in the form of Rico Abreu is expected to make the trip to South Dakota. With Abreu gelling strongly with Ricky Warner, the team has been a nightly threat wherever the #24 shows up. Abreu already owns a trio of World of Outlaws wins in 2023.
Fresh off claiming an Ohio Sprint Speedweek title, Tyler Courtney plans to compete for the $250,000 prize with Clauson Marshall Racing. The two-time All-Star Circuit of Champion titlist’s one career World of Outlaws win came with big money on the line in the form of a $175,000-to-win Kings Royal.
MORE STARS: The entire list of entrants is filled with drivers who could make some noise.
Two of Mark Dobmeier’s three career World of Outlaws wins have come at Huset’s (2012 & 2014). The Grand Forks, ND native will look for more success this week.
Sandwiched between Dobmeier’s victories was a Tim Kaeding triumph in 2013. The Californian is fresh off finishing second in Sunday’s Border Battle at Huset’s aboard the Lunstra #3 – the same ride he’ll pilot during the High Bank Nationals.
Another former World of Outlaws winner at Huset’s – Aaron Reutzel – has the High Bank Nationals on his schedule. The Clute, TX native also topped a Huset’s NOSA race last September.
Riley Goodno impressed at last year’s High Bank Nationals – leading eight laps before finishing third on the second night. The budding talent from Knoxville, IA already picked up a Huset’s local win this month.
Ayrton Gennetten is the most recent Huset’s winner having claimed Sunday’s Border Battle. The Versailles, MO native has continued to show more and more improvement behind the wheel of a Sprint Car.
If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action live on DIRTVision.
THIS WEEKEND AT A GLANCE
WHEN AND WHERE
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 at Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, SD
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CURRENT CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (30/80 Races):
1. 49 – Brad Sweet (4196PTS) 3. 2 – David Gravel (-10PTS) 3. 41 – Carson Macedo (-40PTS) 4. 1S – Logan Schuchart (-176PTS) 5. 15 – Donny Schatz (-228PTS) 6. 17 – Sheldon Haudenschild (-248PTS) 7. 18 – Gio Scelzi (-268PTS) 8. 5 – Spencer Bayston (-352PTS) 9. 3Z – Brock Zearfoss (-562PTS) 10. 1A – Jacob Allen (-622PTS)