Brad Sweet ready to celebrate third consecutive World of Outlaws crown

Brad Sweet Outlaws
Photo: World of Outlaws

Brad Sweet will become only the third driver in World of Outlaws history to win three consecutive championships when he does so Thursday.

Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing, will seal the title when he qualifies Thursday at the NGK/NTK World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. He’ll join Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz as the only drivers to win three series titles in a row.

This will be easiest Sweet has had it entering the final weekend of the season. Sweet beat Schatz by four points – the closest championship race in series history – to claim his first crown in 2019. Sweet clinched his second title in the season’s next-to-last race in 2020. This title comes with two nights of racing left in the season for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink sprint cars.

“The first one seemed like it was the hardest,” Sweet told NBC Sports. “It’s one of those things that if you haven’t won it, you don’t know what it takes. We were building a team. It takes a while to gain the experience and build a team capable of winning a championship.

“Donny Schatz was kind of the guy to beat in the World of Outlaws for a long time. We kind of looked at what they did and tried to copy their mold … try to keep the team together. … Last year with COVID, I think it threw things off. It was hard to get into a rhythm with a lot of schedule changes. It was a lot less racing for us.

“This year felt like a normal year. Felt like we got off to a great start, had a lot of great things going with the NAPA Auto Parts car. Felt like there was a lot of competition this year, very stout teams. Some of our main competition had switched teams, so there was definitely some transitions, some learning on that side of things. Donny Schatz didn’t have a Donny Schatz type of year.

“We were able to separate ourselves kind from everybody and never have gone into Charlotte and clinched it and never had that good of a point lead that late in the season. Little more relaxed.”

Sweet has a series-best 16 wins in 78 races. He’s also led the series in laps led in features (333), podium finishes (34), top-10 finishes (47) and average finish (5.37). He’s also the only driver to complete all 2,505 laps this season. 

The World of Outlaws sprint cars will have qualifying Thursday for Friday night’s racing and Saturday night’s racing at the 4/10-mile dirt oval.

The closest points battle in the series is for third place in the season standings. Carson Macedo holds a four-point lead on Schatz, a 10-time series champion, for that spot. Also competing this weekend will be Kasey Kahne.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.