Sweet Scores Last Lap Win in WoO Season Opener!

The Wheatley Chronicles – Volume IV, No. 2

Lonnie Wheatley, BARBERVILLE, Fla. (February 12, 2016) – The initial World of Outlaws event under the Craftsman banner certainly didn’t disappoint.

The entire Friday night DIRTcar Nationals card atop the 1/2-mile Volusia Speedway Park clay oval revolved around a Kasey Kahne Racing battle between team drivers Daryn Pittman and Brad Sweet.

But, after Pittman nipped Sweet for quick time in qualifying and then won the Dash to earn the pole starting position for the season-opening 30-lap feature, Sweet slid by in the final pair of corners after a race-long battle to take the $10,000 triumph and deny Pittman a second consecutive season-opening series win.

“I definitely needed lapped traffic to come into play,” Sweet commented afterward. “We had nine laps to go on that last restart, so I thought it would come into play. The track was fast but it was racy, there were two good grooves and Daryn and I were both searching around. That was one of those where it’s sometimes better to be in second.”

While Sweet and Pittman diced throughout, the whole KKR party was nearly crashed by Donny Schatz, who rallied from 17th only to suffer his first DNF since 2013, a stretch of 178 feature event.

Schatz, the defending series champion, raced from tenth the previous night for All Star honors and needed just a dozen laps to surge all the way to fourth in Friday’s WoO opener. Schatz joined the lead mix at the midway point and briefly edged ahead on the 20th round, only to suffer race-ending engine woes one lap later.

Pittman, who had recaptured the lead from Sweet on the 14th round, broke away on the restart and several car-lengths worth of breathing room until the final pair of circuits when Sweet closed the gap in the Razorback Professional Tools No. 49.

Sweet put on the big slider in the final pair of corners coming towards the checkered flag and beat Pittman to the stripe by two car-lengths for his second season-opening win in three years.

Pittman settled for runner-up honors while Sammy Swindell advanced from ninth to round out the podium. Greg Hodnett started in the second row and finished fourth while Bryan Clauson rallied from 14th to round out the top five.

The Vitals…                                                           

Series: World of Outlaws

Track: Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Car Count: 32

Quick Time: Steve Kinser set the standard early at 13.220, Brad Sweet came out late and bettered it 13.217 before final qualifier Daryn Pittman finished it off at 13.188.

Heat Winners (starting position in parentheses): Daryn Pittman (1), Brad Sweet (1), Greg Hodnett (2), Lucas Wolfe (2).

Heat Moments: With this year’s WoO heats lined straight up according to qualifying with no invert, Pittman and Sweet dominated from the pole, front row outside starter Greg Hodnett outlasted a wheel-to-wheel duel with Steve Kinser for a lap and-a-half to win heat three and front row outside starter Lucas Wolfe topped heat four when pole starter and leader Jason Johnson popped a powerplant midway through the fourth heat; David Gravel made a big move from fourth to second in the first heat and held off Sammy Swindell for several laps to earn a Dash starting position; Bryan Clauson gained a pair of positions from sixth to fourth on the opening lap of the second heat to land in the feature while Dale Blaney passed Terry McCarl on the final round for the fifth and final transfer; Austin McCarl held off Greg Wilson at the line for fifth in the third heat; Shane Stewart made a power move from sixth to third on the opening lap of the fourth heat and then found himself in a Dash position when fellow past ASCS champ “Ragin’ Cajun” lost power.

Dash Winner (starting position in parentheses): Daryn Pittman (1).

Dash Moments: Pittman outdueled Sweet on the opening lap to take the win and the pole for the feature.

“B” Main Winner (starting position in parentheses): Paul McMahan (2).

“B” Main Moments: Like Johnson, Logan Schuchart changed engines after heat race action but lost power on the opening lap; Jason Johnson’s night went from bad to worse with a broken spindle on the right front nearly sending him into the turn four wall at a high rate of speed while leading early. Johnson saved it but was done for the night; Jacob Allen battled past Dave Blaney down the backstretch for third at the midway point. But it got ugly when Allen’s right rear wheel broke in turn three, with Allen flipping into Blaney after the wheel flew off. Both were done with Danny Holtgraver and Greg Wilson the beneficiaries by moving on up the ladder into transfer positions.

“A” Main Cautions: Five

Lap 1 – David Gravel sputters to a stop. He rejoins but sputters back into the pits at his earliest convenience.

Lap 4 – Doug Esh loses power.

Lap 13 – Paul May slows in turns three and four with a cut left rear, collecting fourth-runner Shane Stewart who runs out of real estate on the high side. Stewart is done.

Lap 21 – After going from 17th to the lead briefly, Schatz slips back to third and then coasts to a race-ending stop in turn three for the extremely rare Schatz DNF.

Lap 21 Restart – Seventh-running Steve Kinser bounces up the track in turns one and two with the red flag flying when Austin McCarl can’t avoid and goes for a wild ride.

“A” Main Hard Charger: After getting shuffled out of a transfer position in his heat race after starting third, Paul McMahan backed up a strong “B” Main win by picking off a dozen positions by racing from 21st to 12th.

The Box Score…

Qualifying – 1. 9-Daryn Pittman, 13.188; 2. 49-Brad Sweet, 13.217; 3. 11-Steve Kinser, 13.220; 4. 41-Jason Johnson, 13.231; 5. 1-Sammy Swindell, 13.240; 6. 7S-Jason Sides, 13.240; 7. 27-Greg Hodnett, 13.246; 8. 1Z-Lucas Wolfe, 13.401; 9. 2L-Danny Lasoski, 13.416; 10. 7-Paul McMahan, 13.426; 11. 10H-Chad Kemenah, 13.463; 12. 29-Kerry Madsen, 13.474; 13. 5-David Gravel, 13.486; 14. O7-Doug Esh, 13.509; 15. 83-Joey Saldana, 13.541; 16. 71MX-Paul May, 13.589; 17. 15-Donny Schatz, 13.595; 18. 24-Terry McCarl, 13.619; 19. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.621; 20. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 13.634; 21. 70-Danny Holtgraver, 13.636; 22. 17W-Bryan Clauson, 13.653; 23. 59-Austin McCarl, 13.662; 24. 2-Shane Stewart, 13.671; 25. 71M-Dave Blaney, 13.713; 26. 1B-Dale Blaney, 13.724; 27. W20-Greg Wilson, 13.731; 28. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.938; 29. 71A-R.J. Johnson, 14.028; 30. 4-Danny Smith, 14.251; 31. 13-Clyde Knipp, 16.998; 32. 45-Tim Shaffer, .000

Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 9-Daryn Pittman [1]; 2. 5-David Gravel [4]; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell [2]; 4. 2L-Danny Lasoski [3]; 5. 15-Donny Schatz [5]; 6. 71M-Dave Blaney [7]; 7. 70-Danny Holtgraver [6]; 8. 71A-R.J. Johnson [8]

Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 49-Brad Sweet [1]; 2. 7S-Jason Sides [2]; 3. O7-Doug Esh [4]; 4. 17W-Bryan Clauson [6]; 5. 1B-Dale Blaney [7]; 6. 24-Terry McCarl [5]; 7. 7-Paul McMahan [3]; 8. 4-Danny Smith [8]

Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 27-Greg Hodnett [2]; 2. 11-Steve Kinser [1]; 3. 83-Joey Saldana [4]; 4. 10H-Chad Kemenah [3]; 5. 59-Austin McCarl [6]; 6. W20-Greg Wilson [7]; 7. 1A-Jacob Allen [5]; 8. 13-Clyde Knipp [8]

Heat 4 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 1Z-Lucas Wolfe [2]; 2. 2-Shane Stewart [6]; 3. 29-Kerry Madsen [3]; 4. 11K-Kraig Kinser [5]; 5. 71MX-Paul May [4]; 6. 41-Jason Johnson [1]; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart [7]; 8. 45-Tim Saffer [8]

Dash – (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 8 starting positions of A-feature) – 1. 9-Daryn Pittman [1]; 2. 49-Brad Sweet [2]; 3. 27-Greg Hodnett [3]; 4. 1Z-Lucas Wolfe [4]; 5. 5-David Gravel [5]; 6. 7S-Jason Sides [6]; 7. 11-Steve Kinser [7]; 8. 2-Shane Stewart [8]

Last Chance Showdown – (12 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 7-Paul McMahan [2]; 2. 24-Terry McCarl [3]; 3. 70-Danny Holtgraver [5]; 4. W20-Greg Wilson [7]; 5. 71A-R.J. Johnson [9]; 6. 4-Danny Smith [10]; 7. 13-Clyde Knipp [11]; 8. 71M-Dave Blaney [6]; 9. 1A-Jacob Allen [4]; 10. 41-Jason Johnson [1]; 11. 1S-Logan Schuchart [8]; 12. 45-Tim Saffer [12]

A-Main – (30 Laps) – 1. 49-Brad Sweet [2]; 2. 9-Daryn Pittman [1]; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell [9]; 4. 27-Greg Hodnett [3]; 5. 17W-Bryan Clauson [14]; 6. 7S-Jason Sides [6]; 7. 1B-Dale Blaney [18]; 8. 29-Kerry Madsen [12]; 9. 7-Paul McMahan [21]; 10. 10H-Chad Kemenah [15]; 11. 11K-Kraig Kinser [16]; 12. 83-Joey Saldana [11]; 13. 2L-Danny Lasoski [13]; 14. 70-Danny Holtgraver [23]; 15. W20-Greg Wilson [24]; 16. 1Z-Lucas Wolfe [4]; 17. 71MX-Paul May [20]; 18. 15-Donny Schatz [17]; 19. 11-Steve Kinser [7]; 20. 59-Austin McCarl [19]; 21. 2-Shane Stewart [8]; 22. O7-Doug Esh [10]; 23. 24-Terry McCarl [22]; 24. 5-David Gravel [5].

Lap leaders: Daryn Pittman 1-5, 14-29; Brad Sweet 6-13, 30.

The Wheatley Chronicles brings insight and highlights from all variety of racing series throughout the nation in 2016 and beyond along with the Open Wheel Power Rankings on a regular basis. Please send any comments, questions or advertising inquiries regarding The Wheatley Chronicles at www.sprintcarmania.com to Lonnie Wheatley at lonniewheatley@gmail.com.