World of Outlaws to run a pair of Kings Royal races in busy Eldora Speedway weekend

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws

A busy week is on hand for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series with the Brad Doty Classic in the books and four more races on tap as they run a pair of Kings Royal races at Eldora Speedway complete with one Jokers Wild and one Knight Before the Kings Royal in support of the big shows. The action begins Wednesday night and runs through Saturday on DirtVision (subscription required).

The COVID-19 pandemic put the 37th running of the Kings Royal on hold in 2020. The Outlaws decided the best time to make up the iconic race was during the 2021 Kings Royal weekend, so in a move that is likely to confound every statistician out there, the 38th Kings Royal will be run Thursday, July 15th with the 37th running of the classic occurring two days later on Saturday, July 17th.

But first, the series got kickstarted the week with the Brad Doty Classic at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park. It is a fitting tribute to one of open wheel racing’s former stars as Doty saw his sprint car career end in the 1988 Kings Royal after suffering a devastating back injury.

Tuesday night, Spencer Bayston earned his first Outlaws win over the drivers standing first and second in the championship. Points’ leader Brad Sweet finished second at Attica with second-place Carson Macedo finishing third.

And if that was not enough competition, the winningest active Outlaws driver, Donny Schatz, advanced 18 positions during the evening to finish fourth.

The Brad Doty Classic also included a pair of NASCAR drivers, with Christopher Bell running 15th and Kyle Larson a distant 24th.

The Kings Royal was last run in 2019 with Sweet beating Logan Schuchart by more than two seconds in the 40-lap feature. Sweet also won the Jokers Wild 30-lap race that year. Schatz was victorious the next night in the Knight Before the Kings Royal, also run at 30 laps.

Both Kings Royals will feature a purse of $175,000.

Sweet is going to need the momentum that six consecutive top-fives, including three wins and a second-place finish, gives him. He did not run very well at Eldora in May when the track hosted a two-day show. Sweet finished 14th and 11th in those two races.

Schatz stood on the podium in both May races with third-place finishes, but still anxiously waited on his 300th career victory, which he achieved at the Dubuque (Iowa) Fairgrounds a little less than a month ago.

If Schatz can win his both Kings Royals, he will tie the legendary Steve Kinser with seven.

Sweet and Schatz are joined by five other former Kings Royal winners, including Kerry Madsen (2014), Daryn Pittman (2008), Jason Sides (2004), Jac Haudenschild (1987, 1994 and 1998) and Dave Blaney (1993, 1995 and 2000).

Wednesday’s Jokers Wild and Friday’s The Knight Before will run as standard World of Outlaws programs. Thursday’s 38th Kings Royal and Saturday’s 37th Kings Royal are a whole different show.

Qualifying is part of the schedule, but everyone goes under one group. More importantly, a huge 36-car inversion flips the Heat Race lineups and puts the fastest cars mid-pack. Only the top-three finishers of the heats transfer directly into the Kings Royal A-Main in spots 1-18. The fastest two qualifiers who do not transfer are guaranteed starting spots 19-20. A Last Chance Showdown will add four more drivers to the 40-lap, 24-car feature.

Back-to-back Kings Royal races also kicks off the “Month of Money”. Over the next eight events, culminating in the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals on August 11, a total of $635,000 in prize money will be on the line.

2021 Kings Royal Schedule

Wednesday, Jokers Wild
Thursday, 38th Kings Royal
Friday, The Knight Before the Kings Royal
Saturday, 37th Kings Royal

The road to the 2023 Daytona 500 is not paved for Travis Pastrana, he’ll attempt the DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana DIRTcar Nationals
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws

Travis Pastrana will attempt to make his first NASCAR Cup series race on February 19 with the grandaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, but his road to get there will not be paved and his car will have only two fenders as he tackles Florida Speedweeks and the DIRTcar Nationals.

In mid-January, it was announced Pastrana will attempt to qualify a third car from 23XI Racing that fields fulltime entries for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Sponsorship will come from Black Rifle Coffee, who approached him during the offseason to ask what kind of “really cool stuff” he would like to do. Pastrana replied, “the Daytona 500” with a characteristic laugh in his voice.

“It’s good,” Pastrana said in a press release. “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with [NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion] Matt Crafton, one of [Black Rifle’s] drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring [United States military] veterans down and hangout with [Steve] Arpin.”

But there is a saying among dirt track fans that goes, ‘asphalt is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing’ – and Pastrana is taking that to heart.

After racing on the snow in Nitro Rallycross February 4-5 in Calgary, Alberta, the original plan was to head to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to watch the modified and late model races. Until Crafton called him out for not racing.

Pastrana relayed the conversation: “I told Crafton [I was coming to watch] and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to drive?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

The DIRTcar Nationals run from February 6-18. The first week features six UMP Modified Mains each night they run, on Monday (Feb. 6), Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night in one of Arpin’s cars, also with sponsorship from Black Riffle Coffee.

And this is not just for bragging rights; there is money on the line. Pastrana and Crafton have a $1 bet on who has the best finish.

While Pastrana is accustomed pitching his car sideways on a combination of left and right turns in a rally car – he won the Nitro Rallycross race at ERX Motorsports Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota last October and became the first two-time winner in the 2022/23 season at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona in November – the DIRTcar Nationals will be an entirely different proposition.

It took a day for Pastrana to get comfortable in the modified. And it took a little coaching from Arpin, who has experience in both dirt modifieds and rally cars to make him fast.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said, which is confirmed in the Instagram post embedded above. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Pastrana has one previous start in a dirt late model that came in the 2010 Prelude to the Dream. He finished 23rd in the 27-car field and was three laps off the pace. He wasn’t the only driver having difficulty getting a feel for the car that night; Jeff Gordon finished on the same lap, only one position ahead of him.

Travis Pastrana will race one of Steve Arpin’s dirt modifieds during Florida Speedweeks as he prepares for the 2023 Daytona 500. – Jacy Norgaard, World Racing Group

The price of the weekend could well exceed the dollar he may lose to Crafton.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend,” Pastrana said. “Not everything is covered. If I crash anything, it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of [US] veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

And it’s not out of the question that Pastrana could add another top-10 to his record book in the DIRTcar Nationals. After the rocky first day, Pastrana gained speed. Enough so that Arpin’s confidence was raised.

“We’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar,” Arpin said.