A year ago Brad Sweet lost the Kings Royal in the blink of an eye, finishing second by 0.189 seconds.
On Saturday night, he claimed his dirt redemption with an eye-popping $175,000 victory at Eldora Speedway. Sweet slipped past Logan Schuchart with 15 laps to go to win his second Kings Royal in nine feature starts. Sweet also won in 2013.
The California native had been reeling in the Kings Royal the past four years with third-place finishes in 2016 and 2017 and that runner-up finish in 2018.
The Kings Royal traditionally pays $50,000-to-win. This year, Eldora owner Tony Stewart raised the winner’s share to a staggering $175,000. Schuchart claimed $20,000 for second.
Three-time defending champion Donny Schatz started on the front row alongside pole-sitter Sammy Swindell and finished sixth.
Sweet started sixth and reached second by lap 15. Schuchart, though, was setting a blistering pace after storming to the lead from 12th place. He was leading by nearly three seconds when a red flag caution bunched up the field for the single-file restart.
With 15 laps remaining, Sweet rocketed past Schuchart on the restart and led the rest of the way.
“Honestly, to be dead honest, I didn’t want to see the red,” Sweet said. “I felt like I just found the top in turns three and four and Logan hadn’t known about it. I think I found some speed there I was going to be able to make some moves with. We didn’t touch the race car, we put five gallons of fuel in it. I told my guys I was just going to put it to the fence and go for it.”
Brent Marks, Sheldon Haudenschild and David Gravel finished in the top five. Schatz, Swindell, Jac Haudenschild, Tim Shaffer and Kerry Madsen rounded out the top 10.
Swindell led the first 10 laps. Schuchart led the next 15 before Sweet finished off the 40-lap feature.
“Hell, we started twelfth and led the Kings Royal, that’s something to be proud about,” Schuchart said. “To be leading this race with all of the people in this pit supporting me, it’s a great feeling. I didn’t make the show last year. We went from not making the show to out here in the top-five every single night.”
The victory was Sweet’s 11th this season on the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series. He leads Schatz by 20 points in the driver standings.
“You have to pinch me. It feels surreal,” Sweet said.
“Sprint car racers make money based off how they finish. When you have a race that pays $175,000 to win and basically $20,000 for second, it’s kind of all or nothing coming in here. I’m fan of it. It’s nerve racking. It gets the fans’ attention. It’s what we need in this sport.”
Schatz, meanwhile, entered on a hot streak after winning the Knight Before The Kings Royal on Friday and the #LetsRaceTwo event on Wednesday, which was postponed from earlier this season.
Sweet won the Jokers Wild feature on Thursday.
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