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.
For the first time since 2019, it's RACE DAY for the @WorldofOutlaws @NosEnergyDrink Sprint Car Series at @TulareRaceway!!!! Fantastic weather for our long-awaited return–SO great to be back!!
— Johnny Gibson (@Gibvoice) March 11, 2022
RACE DAY – @Cory_Eliason – Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway – @WorldofOutlaws – @dirtvision pic.twitter.com/hrJdTm1pLH
— Rudeen Racing (@RudeenRacing) March 11, 2022
“It’s all I think about. It’s all I want to do.“ 😤@Rico_Abreu is building a program for the future, and committed to chasing as many World of Outlaws @NosEnergyDrink Sprint Car wins as possible.
He detailed his passion for the sport before returning to his California home. pic.twitter.com/3Zhm6ssBDI
— World of Outlaws (@WorldofOutlaws) March 11, 2022