BAKERSFIELD, CA – Last year’s Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Sheldon Haudenschild means business in 2018, as the young Wooster, OH native scored his third World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series victory of the young 2018 season at Bakersfield Speedway. Haudenschild stormed to the front of the Feature from ninth and was undoubtedly the class of the field, winning by nearly three and a half seconds despite a late caution. Shane Stewart came from seventh for his second consecutive podium finish with early race leader Jason Johnson completing the all World of Outlaws regulars podium.
Johnson was attempting to pull a clean sweep of the program after setting fast time, winning his Heat and taking the Craftsman Club Dash, earning the pole for the 35-lap Feature. Johnson set a fast pace, surviving a couple of cautions and leading the first 14 laps.
2016 Bakersfield winner Brad Sweet appeared to be the man to beat when he took the lead, to a huge applause, on the 15th circuit from his fifth-starting position, after exchanging multiple slide jobs with Johnson. Disaster struck three laps later for Sweet as he did a full 360 rotation and a massive wheelie before his NAPA Auto Parts No.49 machine came to a stop in turn two.
That allowed Johnson to re-assume the lead with Haudenschild right beside him on the double-file restart. Johnson kept Sheldon at bay for a couple of laps as the duo traded the lead each corner for a handful of laps enthralling the large Bakersfield Speedway crowd once again. Haudenschild officially led Lap 23 and was never truly challenged after that point.
The excitement didn’t stop there though for the driver of the NOS Energy Drink, Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall No.17 as Sheldon asserted his dominance over the field by lapping cars at a rapid pace, throwing massive slide jobs along the way. On Lap 29, Sheldon saw a four-second lead erased for one final caution.
Sheldon powered away on the restart, with no challenge going to win by 3.446 seconds. Haudenschild was the topic amongst the crowd all night after coming from 10th in his Heat Race, after spinning, to finish third. “It just shows how good my guys are,” Haudenschild said in reference to his recovery from the Heat Race blunder. “A lot of guys were fighting for the bottom and I just went where the track was free,” Haudenschild added about his cushion-pounding move in the qualifying event.
“It feels really good to a get a third win this early on in the season. This NOS Energy Drink No.17 was on a rail all night,” Haudenschild said in Victory Lane.
Shane Stewart secured his second consecutive podium finish on the strength of restarts. “[Double-file restarts] are one of the crazy and cool things about the World of Outlaws and I’ve been on the wrong end of them before, but tonight they worked out for us. Hopefully, we can get a win here real soon,” Stewart said after exiting his DC Solar sponsored Kyle Larson Racing No.2 machine.
Jason Johnson was in good spirits with his third-place finish despite leading a large portion of the race. “We came up a little bit short, we were a little too free once the fuel burned off, but still a very good night for this team. It’s always good to be on the podium,” the Eunice, LA native said.
Joey Saldana came from 14th to finish fourth with Ian Madsen coming from 16th to complete the top five. Neither of those efforts was good enough to secure KSE Hard Charger honors as that belonged to Donny Schatz, who came from 21st to finish sixth. The first six finishers, and eight of the first nine across the line, were World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series regulars.
The Series takes next weekend off as the Series allows its drivers, crews and teams a weekend to observe the Easter Holiday. The Greatest Show on Dirt continues its 40th Anniversary Season at Arizona Speedway on April 7, tickets can be purchased here. If you can’t make it to the track, be sure to tune into DIRTVision.com to watch all the action live!
Feature: (35 Laps) 1. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$10,000]; 2. 2-Shane Stewart [$5,500]; 3. 41-Jason Johnson [$3,200]; 4. 26-Joey Saldana [$2,800]; 5. 18-Ian Madsen [$2,500]; 6. 15-Donny Schatz [$2,300]; 7. 21X-Carson Macedo [$2,200]; 8. 9-Daryn Pittman [$2,100]; 9. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$2,050]; 10. 7S-Tim Kaeding [$2,000]; 11. 24-Rico Abreu [$1,500]; 12. 5-David Gravel [$1,200]; 13. 49-Brad Sweet [$1,100]; 14. 19-Brent Marks [$1,050]; 15. 83-Cory Eliason [$1,000]; 16. 57-Giovanni Scelzi [$900]; 17. O-Bud Kaeding [$800]; 18. 7SS-Jason Sides [$800]; 19. 83JR-Kyle Hirst [$800]; 20. 87-Aaron Reutzel [$800]; 21. 41S-Dominic Scelzi [$800]; 22. 49X-Tim Shaffer [$800]; 23. 1A-Jacob Allen [$800]; 24. 45-Paul McMahan [$800]; Lap Leaders: Jason Johnson 1-14, 19-22; Brad Sweet 15-18; Sheldon Haudenschild 23-35; KSE Hard Charger Award: 15-Donny Schatz[+15]
Qualifying: 1. 41-Jason Johnson, 11.271; 2. 7S-Tim Kaeding, 11.362; 3. 7SS-Jason Sides, 11.388; 4. 41S-Dominic Scelzi, 11.393; 5. O-Bud Kaeding, 11.405; 6. 83-Cory Eliason, 11.472; 7. 9-Daryn Pittman, 11.506; 8. 1A-Jacob Allen, 11.519; 9. 57-Giovanni Scelzi, 11.519; 10. 26-Joey Saldana, 11.527; 11. 49-Brad Sweet, 11.53; 12. 2-Shane Stewart, 11.548; 13. 45-Paul McMahan, 11.561; 14. 15-Donny Schatz, 11.573; 15. 29-Willie Croft, 11.576; 16. 18-Ian Madsen, 11.592; 17. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 11.6; 18. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 11.617; 19. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 11.633; 20. 49X-Tim Shaffer, 11.658; 21. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 11.604; 22. 5-David Gravel, 11.698; 23. 19-Brent Marks, 11.74; 24. 24-Rico Abreu, 11.75; 25. 22-Shane Golobic, 11.798; 26. 21X-Carson Macedo, 11.813; 27. 98-Sean Watts, 11.944; 28. 83JR-Kyle Hirst, 11.962; 29. W20-Greg Wilson, 11.979; 30. OO-Dane Lorenc, 11.995; 31. 88N-DJ Netto, 12.005; 32. 68-Chase Johnson, 12.052; 33. 16A-Colby Copeland, 12.077; 34. 13-Clyde Knipp, 12.109; 35. 86-Chris Ennis, 12.333; 36. 10-Matthew Moles, 12.612; 37. 28-Nathan Rolfe, 12.633