Coming off of a rather slow week in dirt on American soil with the holiday season rolling through, we have to look down under to Australia and New Zealand for our most recent news.
This past week, a slew of American drivers took to the tracks halfway around the world to give the thousands of fans a taste of what racing is like in the United States.
Brad Sweet led the charge by topping the stout 47-car field at the World Series Sprintcars event at Borderline Speedway earning him a cool $10,000. The California native timed in 6th quick on the night. After two rounds of heats, Sweet found himself sitting 3rd on the feature grid. 35 laps later he was in victory lane to celebrate his first career win on Australian soil. Sweet, winner of the 2013 King’s Royal, will be competing full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2014 as a member of Kasey Kahne Racing.
Steve Kinser also made noise down under as he was the first to cross under the checkers at Valvoline Raceway in Sydney, Australia for the Coke Zero International race. Kinser began his farewell tour in Australia and couldn’t have drawn up a better finish to night one. After establishing the quickest time in qualifying, Kinser pulled a 10-car invert and had to battle his way up from 10th on the starting grid in 35 laps for the win. On the same night at the same track, American driver Steve Casebolt topped the late model field to win the Coke Firecracker 20. Fellow countryman Steve Francis was also in attendance on this evening. Both drivers scored preliminary heat race victories.
Donny Schatz joined Sweet and Kinser when he found an all-but-unfamiliar victory lane this past week at the Archerfield Speedway in Archerfield, Australia. His World of Outlaw counterpart Jason Sides jumped from the pole to lead the first lap, but Schatz quickly gained ground, completed the pass on lap 2, and went on to lead the remainder of the 35 lap event. Tennessee native Jason Sides continued on to a runner-up finish. The win was Schatz’s 30th on the year.
|Top 3 finishers from Archerfield Speedway
From Left: 3rd place Luke Oldfield, 1st place Donny Schatz, 2nd place Jason Sides
American teenage sensation Christopher Bell added to the successful weekend for our country, and a successful year for himself in general, when he took the checkers at WXC Speedway in Western Springs. The 18 year old wheelman lined up on the front row of the grid but didn’t have the race locked up until luck fell his way later on. Fellow American competitors Darren Hagen, Bryan Clauson, and Rico Abreu were retired from the race after getting together while battling up front. Bell then had to fend off a last lap charge from statesman Jerry Coons, Jr. to capture the POWRi Midget World Champion event in front of a stellar crowd of 13,000 fans.
With the New Year set to come in just a few days, I’m sure we’ll begin to see the release of many track’s schedules. Also, keep in mind that the beginning of the American racing season is already less than two weeks away now as the National Dirt Racing League will tear up Tucson International Raceway in Arizona on Jan. 11th.