Donny Schatz led from flag to flag to win the World of Outlaws feature Saturday night at Wilmot Raceway. David Gravel finished second and Brad Sweet third. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
WILMOT â Brad Sweet expected to have Kasey Kahne as his teammate for much of the World of Outlaws sprint car tour this season.
Kahne, an 18-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner, had stepped away from stock cars and intended to spend more time racing his own car on dirt. But he suffered an undisclosed injury in a crash in March and has been out of his sprint car since while James McFadden has filled his seat.
Not that it matters much to Sweet whose name is on the wing atop the car parked next to his.
âKasey, I feel like heâs more of just a good friend, heâs a fan, he pushes us and he oversees it all, but he lets us run our team the way we think we need to win races,â Sweet said Saturday at Wilmot Raceway.
âWe definitely share information, but the one thing weâve learned over the years is just because it works for one driver doesnât mean itâs going to work for another. Kasey, he knows whatâs going on, but when theyâre working on their car, a lot of their setups are a lot different.
âI donât really care who it is. All I know is I just want to win in the 49 car and if I find something thatâs making us win, then Iâm probably not really going to tell anybody about it.
Â âTheyâre our âteammates.â â
Sweetâs emphasis on that single word made his point clear, just as his performance this season has left no doubt of the strength of Sweetâs side of Kasey Kahne Racing.
Sweet has won nine of 37 racers so far and after a third-place finish to Donny Schatz Â in Badger 40 on Saturday night at Wilmot Raceway he leads the championship by 38 points.
Itâs been a step in the right direction for the 33-year-old Californian, who finished second in points last season. But itâs not even halfway through the grueling Outlaws season and big races await. The Kingâs Royal at Eldora Speedway in Ohio is next Saturday the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals in August. They can go a long way toward turning a good year into a great one.
âObviously itâs a good start to the season, but all the big races and the points battle and everything is not decided until these next few months,â Sweet said.
Â âWeâre not going to complain. âŠ But obviously we want to be winning more races and have a bigger points lead for sure.â
Although Sweet has with nine wins, theÂ 10-time and defending series championÂ Schatz is otherÂ driverÂ in what has shaped up asÂ a two-man championshipÂ battle halfway through the season.
Whoâs chasing Sweet makes no more difference to him than who his teammate is.
Success on the Outlaws circuit largely comes from experience, Sweet said, and although Schatz is a 23-year veteran with a team thatâs hung together, Sweet and his crew continue to build their base of knowledge.
Â âWeâre just doing a few things better than a lot of other teams (at the moment),â Sweet said. âMy experience of driving over the last few years, just getting better and better and better, really studying âŠ I think itâs all starting to pay off.
âWeâre at that point that weâre in the right spot that weâre in a place to make things happen and we just need to make sure that we go out and do our job each and every night.â
Whether the team owner is on the track, standing in the pits or watching from afar.