Brad Sweet 2020 Mid-Season Recap
It's been a rollercoaster of a season so far for Brad Sweet and the Kasey Kahne Racing (KKR) team as they aim to back up their 2019 success and earn back-to-back World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship titles. They've ridden the wave of confidence for most of the season as they put together a string of wins and podium finishes but not without facing some bad luck and adversity along the way. Sweet kicked the 2020 season off in typical Sweet fashion by winning the Big Gator Championship at Volusia (Fla.) Speedway Park in February. After a strong start to the year, the last thing that the No. 49 team wanted was a postponement of competition, but that's precisely what happened when the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic hit. Sweet and the rest of the sprint car field were parked for three months before the series slowly began returning to action in May.
As with any professional sport or entertainment entity, the World of Outlaws were forced to pause their season as the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly throughout the United States. The series worked diligently with health experts during this time to become a leader in bringing back live sporting events, all while prioritizing the health and safety of the competitors and spectators. As the first national motorsports series to return to racing, the World of Outlaws was also the first to bring fan attendance back; a sight welcomed by all competitors and teams. Through the development of state-of-the-art scanning technology and on-site quick response testing, the series welcomed a sold-out crowd in July. Fans passed through a 360 degree, TSA-like scanning machine, and were given a green or red light based on if COVID-19 symptoms were detected. While most local and state government officials are restricting full attendance, the series feels that this could be a solution to hosting larger crowds at events in the future.
A racecar driver's entire life revolves around the traveling nature of the sport and working tirelessly to prepare for each event. So what happens when their life is put on pause? Sweet gave us a hilariously detailed tweet of his day quarantining at home: "currently YouTubing how to make hibachi for the family with beer bombs and sake, started a fire in the front yard just to watch it burn, played horse against my wife on the Little Tikes hoop and won." All jokes aside, Sweet turned to barbequing to kill some of his spare time. He spent time mastering the art of cooking meats on the grill and even went as far as learning to use a smoker. Along with picking up a new hobby, I'm sure Sweet and his wife, Rachel, kept themselves busy playing with their two-year-old daughter, Savannah. As one could imagine, Sweet was more than ready when the World of Outlaws returned to action at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway in May.
When racing resumed, Sweet and his team earned a win, three top-three and five top-ten finishes in May, giving many a reason to believe that they are in Championship form again this season. The success continued into June when the KKR team celebrated three victories and finished outside the top five only one time. Sweet swept the Independence Day Spectacular at Cedar Lake (Wis.) Speedway to kick-off a full month of racing in July, extending his points lead by over 100 points. Things began to turn south the following weekend when the team saw clouds of smoke rolling out of the NAPA AUTO PARTS car, forcing them to take their first DNF of the season. A string of ups and downs would follow as the team accumulated three more DNF's with a handful of podium finishes occurring between them. Sweet was shocked by the unusually high number of DNF's that he and fellow competitor Donny Schatz have had this season stating that "2020 has been a strange year, and we've seen a lot of things that I've never seen before," all while putting aside any apprehension. The points battle is the last thing on Sweet's mind at this point in the season; with fast cars and one of the best teams on the circuit, his focus is on winning. "The NAPA AUTO PARTS car is fast every weekend, and if we keep working hard every day, the wins will come," said Sweet. With a smile he added, "the points will work themselves out at the end of the year." And with the confidence, talent and laser focus that this KKR team has, we'd be crazy to think anything different. With 22 races left on the schedule, we're sure to see Sweet and his KKR team in victory lane several more times.
With more than half of the season complete, Sweet has accumulated the most wins among his World of Outlaws competitors with seven victories in 32 starts. Among those starts, he has 21 top-five finishes and has finished outside the top-10 only five times. With a tight points battle on the line, the second half of the World of Outlaws schedule will undoubtedly be a spectacle to keep your eyes on.
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