One of the biggest challenges of racing in the World of Outlaws national sprint car tour is learning 90 different race tracks strung from one end of the country to the other.
But when the tour invades Calistoga Speedway this Saturday night for the Wine Country Outlaw Showdown, it will feel just like home for the traveling drivers who began their careers at the Napa Valley’s half-mile oval.
The World of Outlaws are led by 10-time defending champion Donny Schatz of Fargo, N.D., who has had three of his 289 career victories at Calistoga.
But the driver on the march is Grass Valley’s Brad Sweet, who in his 12th season on the WoO tour is making his most serious challenge to dethrone Schatz. By winning his 14th race of the season last weekend at the Gold Cup prelim in Chico and earlier in the week in Oregon, Sweet cut the difference in the points title chase to a mere six points.
“Calistoga is near and dear to me,” said Sweet, who recalls watching races there as a kid and calls his three wins at the track “really special.”
When it comes to the WoO championship race, “we just try to focus on each and every night, but you can’t help but think you need to be ahead as it gets closer to the end to have a chance to win,” said Sweet, who earlier this year won the most lucrative event in sprint car racing, the $175,000 Kings Royal in Ohio. “We just want to at least give ourselves a shot. It’s never going to be easy to beat a 10-time champion. You know Donny, he’s got a lot of tricks up his sleeve. We know we just need to keep focusing on what we do.”
San Jose’s Tim Kaeding has been dividing his time between racing on the West Coast, where he claimed a “Speedweek” title with the King of the West sprint cars last month, and a part-time schedule with the WoO.
You have free articles remaining.
“We’ve been good every night I get in this thing,” said Kaeding, a seven-time Calistoga race winner who will drive a second team car for WoO driver Jason Sides of Tennessee. “Hopefully, we can get a win in California and to close out the season on the west coast is awesome.”
Carson Macedo has been racing primarily in the Midwest since claiming the 2015 championship in the Northern California-based King of West series and is gunning for the WoO Rookie of the Year honors by consistently running at the top of the field, with 34 top-five finishes in 56 starts so far this year.
“Kyle Larson gives us a really good package,” Macedo said, referring to the NASCAR driver from Elk Grove who owns his sprint car team.
“We have really good race cars. I think our team is really strong,” added Macedo, who lives in in the San Joaquin Valley town of Lemoore and is looking for his first career win at Calistoga.
Last year’s Calistoga winner, Oklahoma driver Daryn Pittman, will look to keep up his momentum after claiming his second Gold Cup title in Chico last weekend and his fourth victory of the season, driving for the Fresno-based Roth Motorsports team.
Top drivers from the King of the West sprint car series will be challenging the WoO regulars, led by championship point leader D.J. Netto of Hanford, San Jose’s Bud Kaeding, and Rico Abreu of St. Helena, a former winner on the WoO tour who claimed is 12th career Calistoga win two weeks ago at the Louie Vermeil Classic.
Spectator gates open at 4 p.m. and the racing program, which also includes the All Star Modified Tour, begins at 6:30 pm. Calistoga Speedway is located on the Napa County Fairgrounds.