CONCORD, NC – Donny Schatz and Brad Sweet separated themselves from the rest of the competition in the second half of the 2018 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series season, which has everyone excited to see the 2019 Championship battle that will kick off in February at Volusia Speedway Park.
As the Outlaws closed out their 40th anniversary season last week, the focus has quickly shifted to the DIRTcar Nationals, where Schatz and his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing team will begin their quest for an 11th championship as Sweet and his Kasey Kahne Racing crew aim to disrupt that streak.
Even with a handful driver and team changes already announced for the 2019 World of Outlaws season, it’s worth noting the top two teams of Schatz and Sweet will remain the same.
“The passion everyone in this room has makes the World of Outlaws what it is and I’m very proud to be a part of it,” now 10-time World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz said at the banquet on Sunday night. “Tony Stewart, Mike Curb/Curb-Agajanian, what you’ve assembled with this team, the consistency, is incredible. We dealt with a lot of challenges this year, and there’s going to be plenty going forward, because I’m not going anywhere.”
Schatz and 2018 Crew Chief of the Year Ricky Warner will headline the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing No. 15 team once again in 2019. Schatz, Warner and TSR have mastered a balance of triumph and consistency. In a year of parity, where no other driver recorded double-digit victories, Schatz and TSR amassed 22 wins whilst only finishing outside the top-10 five times.
If the 15 team is to be unseeded, it’s going to take a special team, and 2018 was a special year for Brad Sweet and the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 team. It took Sweet and his new Crew Chief, Eric Prutzman, until May to score their first win together, but from there everything clicked en route to a career-season for Sweet, highlighted by the 2018 Knoxville Nationals title.
“When we got on the same page, it was a lot of fun, we built a really great friendship,” Sweet said. “I admire his work ethic and what he brought to our team and what we accomplished this year. “I want to congratulate Donny, Ricky, Scuba, Brad, Gary and everyone from TSR. You guys set the bar high, it’s something we strive to do and eventually be at that [Championship] table,” Sweet said with a smile.
Sweet and his team amassed 9 wins and 43 top-five finishes, but perhaps the most impressive statistic of all was they transferred through their Heat Race every night, not running a single Last Chance Showdown all season. Sweet, Prutzman and KKR are chomping at the bit to get going for 2019.
Behind Schatz and Sweet, the World of Outlaws will have a different look in 2019. After 23 wins in the last two years, David Gravel and CJB Motorsports have parted ways and Gravel will pilot the Jason Johnson Racing No. 41 full-time in 2019. After five years with Kyle Larson Racing, Shane Stewart will take over the reins of the CJB No. 5 in 2019 with Lemoore, CA, native Carson Macedo being tabbed the driver of the KLR No. 2, competing for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award.
These teams, along with the rest of the World of Outlaws stars, will debut at newly-renovated Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FL, at the 48th Annual DIRTcar Nationals, which runs Feb. 5-16 and also includes All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars, DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, DIRTcar Late Models, World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models and Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds over the course of two weeks.
2018 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series Awards:
VP Racing Fuels – Donny Schatz
KSE Hard Charger – Brent Marks
Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year – Ian Madsen
Jason Johnson Sportsman of the Year – Greg Wilson
Crew Chief of the Year – Ricky Warner, Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing
Ted Johnson Memorial/Outstanding Contribution to Sprint Car Racing – Bobby Allen
Chassis Builder of the Year – J & J Auto Racing
Engine Builder of the Year – Shaver Engines
The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Craftsman (Official Tool), Hoosier Racing Tire (Official Tire), iRacing (Official Online Racing Game), Morton Buildings (Official Building), NGK Spark Plugs (Official Spark Plug), NOS Energy (Preferred Energy Product), Sears (Official Home Store), Textron Off Road (Official side-by-side vehicle) and VP Racing Fuels (Official Racing Fuel); contingency sponsors include Cometic Gasket, COMP Cams, Edelbrock, JE Pistons, KSE Racing Products and MSD; manufacturer sponsors include Impact Racing Products, Intercomp, Racing Electronics, and TNT Rescue.