JACKSON, Minn. – Brad Sweet picked up right where he left off one year ago at Jackson Motorplex on Friday evening during the opening preliminary feature for the 42nd annual AGCO Jackson Nationals.
After starting from the outside pole and getting snookered on the initial start, Sweet drove past polesitter Austin McCarl on the second attempt at green and never looked back from there.
The defending World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion and defending Jackson Nationals winner led all 25 laps of the main event in dominant fashion for his fifth win of the season.
Sweet’s victory came after the C-, B- and A-mains from Thursday night were postponed to the start of Friday’s program due to a rainstorm that invaded the four-tenths-mile oval following heat races.
While Sweet was undoubtedly the class of the field, he admitted that he was playing catch-up for a brief moment before the flipped car of Mark Dobmeier in turns one and two brought out the opening-lap red flag that gave him a chance at redemption.
“We’ve got a good package here; I’ve been comfortable at Jackson,” Sweet said. “We’ve won quite a few here lately … but we struggled there on the start. Typically we’re not too fast up high, but that (line) is what the track called for during this day race and we were able to get it right on the second go-round.
“Hopefully tonight these guys will go to work and we can put on an even better show in the second race.”
Dobmeier’s upside-down excursion, which collected David Gravel and Jason Sides in its wake, was the only incident during the Thursday make-up event. All 25 laps were completed uninterrupted after that.
Once the race got going, it was completed in a lightning-quick time of five minutes and 54.709 seconds.
Thanks to his __th career World of Outlaws win and impressive points haul in the first feature, Sweet is already shaping up as the favorite to repeat his Jackson Nationals triumph, something he relishes.
However, it almost didn’t work out, considering Sweet timed in poorly on Thursday and had to race forward from the fourth row to finish second in his heat race and earn a Dash starting spot.
“We dug ourselves a hole in qualifying,” Sweet noted. “A lot of people thought we were sandbagging or something. But with the loss of points (in this format) there was no reason to think that or that we did that, but we were slow in qualifying and had to make up for it. Luckily we were able to get the win and hopefully tonight we can have a better night overall.
“If all goes well, that should propel us into a better spot on Saturday night.”
McCarl’s runner-up finish was the best run of his career with the World of Outlaws. He was driving his family-owned, black No. 17a and started from the pole after winning the DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash.
However, it wasn’t all smiles after McCarl encountered problems right at the checkered flag.
“Any time you’re on the podium with these guys (the Outlaws), you’ve done something,” McCarl said. “The Dash draw certainly didn’t hurt us. This is a big event, though, and a great finish for us. Brad did a great job on the (second) start, driving up above it there, and that’s why he’s a World of Outlaws champion.
“You can’t be too ashamed finishing second to him, but I think we might have burned (an engine) down, so we might have to make a motor swap before we get going again for qualifying.”
Jackson regular Matt Juhl, who also competes regularly at Knoxville Raceway, completed the podium ahead of Logan Schuchart and Sheldon Haudenschild.
Tim Kaeding, Justin Henderson, Parker Price-Miller, Carson Macedo and Daryn Pittman filled out the top 10.
Terry McCarl topped the rescheduled 10-lap C-main and Scotty Thiel won the 12-lap Last Chance Showdown.
The AGCO Jackson Nationals continue with a full program, highlighted by the regularly-scheduled preliminary feature, later on Friday night.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 laps): 1. 49-Brad Sweet, 2. 17a-Austin McCarl, 3. 09-Matt Juhl, 4. 1s-Logan Schuchart, 5. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 6. 3-Tim Kaeding, 7. 7-Justin Henderson, 8. 14-Parker Price-Miller, 9. 2-Carson Macedo, 10. 83-Daryn Pittman, 11. 9-Kasey Kahne, 12. 2m-Kerry Madsen, 13. 21-Brian Brown, 14. 49x-Tim Shaffer, 15. 41-David Gravel, 16. 11k-Kraig Kinser, 17. 18-Ian Madsen, 18. 15-Donny Schatz, 19. 1a-Jacob Allen, 20. 33m-Mason Daniel, 21. 7s-Jason Sides, 22. 5-Shane Stewart, 23. 13-Mark Dobmeier, 24. 64-Scotty Thiel.
Lap Leader(s): Brad Sweet 1-25.