World of Outlaws Sprint Cars return for California spring swing after three years

Outlaws California spring swing
World of Outlaws

After three years of interruption because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the World of Outlaws returns California for the spring swing. Action kicks off Friday night, March 11 at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif. for the first of two nights on that track.

After three nights in Florida, a long hiatus until two nights in Texas, the next six races will be contested in California on five tracks. In five races so far in 2022, four drivers have graced Victory Lane with Sheldon Haudenschild as the only one to score multiple wins. Those came in the second night of racing at Volusia Speedway Park, in Barberville, Florida and on the first night of the Texas Two Step at Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas.

And while series regulars have dominated the first five races, California provides a unique opportunity for local drivers to take some of the victories. Last week, Texas native Sam Hafertepe, Jr. led most of the second night at Cotton Bowl before getting passed in heavy traffic by Carson Macedo with only a couple of laps remaining.

Over the next two weeks, several California natives will be considered major contenders for the win, including NASCAR’s Kyle Larson, Outlaws Rico Abreau, Giovanni Scelzi, Shane Golobic and Cory Eliason. Larson has 25 Outlaw wins to his credit, including his last appearance at Thunderbowl in 2013 when he won over his brother-in-law, 2021 champion Brad Sweet.

In addition, interloping Outlaws Dominic Scelzi, Mitchell Faccinto and Chase Johnson will provide local color. Scelzi in particular should be watched closely because he won six races last year at Thunderbowl and has extra incentive to run well this week since he will be battling head-to-head with his brother, Giovanni.

Other notables who want to be on hand for the first World of Outlaws California spring swing in three years include Tyler Courtney, (who will campaign the No. 57 that Paul Silva wrenched to many of Larson’s wins), Kerry Madsen, (who will also face off against his brother Ian Madsen), and Austin McCarl.

After leaving Thunderbowl, the series heads to Merced (Calif.) Speedway on March 18, Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, Calif. March 19, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway on March 25 and Perris (Calif.) Speedway on March 26.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III