World Of Outlaws Season Review - Part 1

When the final checkered flag of the season flew for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, a total of 13 drivers completed the entire campaign, which stretched from February until the first weekend of November and crisscrossed the country a couple of times. With a record number of rainouts this past season, the total race count ended up at 71. 

In the win column, 19 drivers picked up at least one A-Feature victory, including each of the top-nine in the final series standings. There were six first-time winners, including Giovanni Scelzi, who became the youngest winner in series history, at 16-years-old, at the famed Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania. This Season Review will take a look at the drivers who finished seventh through 13th in points.

Sheldon Haudenschild- 7th in points

Sheldon Haudenschild started off his first season driving for the Stenhouse Jr./Marshall Racing team with a bang, winning on opening night at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida to earn his long-awaited first-career World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win. The fourth-generation driver continued his strong start during the spring West Coast Swing and was neck-in-neck with eventual champion Donny Schatz in terms of wins and on the stats sheet for the first couple months of the season. Haudenschild would go on to also score wins in Las Vegas, Bakersfield Speedway in California, Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Illinois and Skagit Speedway in Washington.

A bit of a lull in the middle part of the season dropped Haudenschild in a bit in the standings and he wound up finishing seventh for the second straight year. On the stats sheet, he wrapped up the year with five wins, as well as more top-five finishes than 2017, but had a few less top-10 runs. Haudenschild and the Stenhouse Jr./Marshall team will return in 2019 for another year on the road with the Outlaws.

Ian Madsen- 8th in points

Ian Madsen and the KCP Racing team embarked on the full World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series tour for the first time in 2017 and were rewarded by being named the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award winner. Madsen had a very consistent season, recording 31 top-10 finishes, with eight of those being top-fives. The highlight of the season was winning the Friday portion of the World Finals in Charlotte, which was run on Saturday afternoon. That victory was the third of Madsen’s career with the series and the first outside the state of Minnesota. Madsen and the team will return for another go-around with the Outlaws in 2019.

“It was great to get another Outlaw win, and really gave us a shot in the arm as we closed the season and start to prepare for our 2019 campaign,” Madsen said. “It was a grueling year, and to win during one of the biggest weekends of the year felt great.”

Brent Marks- 9th in points

Brent Marks had a breakout year in 2018 with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series. The native of Myerstown, PA, scored his first Outlaws win in early June at Wilmot Raceway in Wisconsin in impressive fashion. He lapped into the top-10 in that event and did the same in July at Weedsport Speedway in New York. Marks scored a very emotional win during the Four Crown Nationals Weekend at Eldora Speedway in September, as he was victorious at the half-mile, just one day after the passing of Greg Hodnett in a tragic accident in Pennsylvania. 

Marks passed more cars than any driver on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series circuit, gaining over 230 positions on the season. He also earned the most KSE Hard Charger Awards of any driver on the tour. Marks finished one spot better in points than he did in his rookie season and picked up more top-10 and top-five finishes in 2018. The owner/driver will return in 2019 for his third season with the Outlaws.

“I can’t say enough about my team and the effort put forth,” said Marks. “Jessie (Lentz) and I were on our own for the first half of the season, but we were fortunate enough to add some people later in the year and it proved to be very beneficial. I can’t thank everyone enough for their hard work. I wouldn’t be in this position without my family and all of my dedicated partners. It takes a lot of parts to make a race team go up and down the highway, not to mention be capable of winning. I’m privileged to be in this position.”

Kraig Kinser- 10th in points

Kraig Kinser finished among the top-10 in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series standings for the ninth straight season. The veteran driver finished a season-best fourth at Eldora Speedway in the spring and matched that with a fourth-place effort at Ransomville Speedway in New York in July. Along the way, he recorded 12 top-10 finishes, with five of those being top-five showings. 

“We want to do that more consistently next year,” Kinser said of the strong runs. “We’ll look at those good nights and figure out how to copy those nights. We’ll look at how we started off the night and try to put ourselves in positions like that more often. There were nights when we started in the back and made a good charge. When we start back there we want to continue to move forward in the features. Our goal is to keep going forward and keep having fast cars throughout the race. And then the goal is to consistently move forward and capitalize on fast cars on a regular basis.”

Jacob Allen- 11th in points

Jacob Allen really came into his own over the course of the 2018 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series season, showing great speed and improved consistency. The young driver came very close to winning his first Outlaws race on a handful of occasions. In fact, he had five runner-up finishes, including three straight in August at Red River Valley Speedway, Black Hills Speedway and Big Sky Speedway as he led laps in each of those races. Allen, the son of Hall of Famer Bobby Allen, his team owner, finished a career-best 11thin points and also picked up a career-high 16 top-10 finishes, with nine of those being top-five runs. 

Allen will return next season for his sixth straight on the road with the Outlaws, with the backing of Drydene Performance, who will be the primary sponsor on both Shark Racing cars.

Jason Sides- 12th in points

Jason Sides changed things up a bit over the course of the 2018 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series season and fielded a second car in a number of races for a couple of drivers. Tim Kaeding was one of those and he turned in seven top-five showings in those races, including a fifth-place finish in the Knoxville Nationals. Kaeding finished on the podium at his home track of Silver Dollar Speedway in the opener of the Gold Cup Race of Champions. On the stats sheet, Sides had seven top-10 finishes, which was down significantly from 2017. Next season, Sides looks to expand the number of races he fields a second car at.

“Tim’s run during the Knoxville Nationals stands out as our biggest highlight,” Sides said. “Maybe I need to get some confidence back myself knowing that we have the equipment and we can do it.”

Greg Wilson- 13th in points

The 2018 season was a tough one for Greg Wilson, plain and simple. The highlight of the season for Wilson was a runner-up finish in the Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in his home state of Ohio, which saw the veteran driver stayed glued to the bottom of the track to come from the 14thstarting spot to finish second. Wilson was also on the podium during the Four Crown Nationals weekend at Eldora, coming home third. He finished the season on a solid note with a top-five in the Friday portion of the World Finals. 

Wilson was honored at the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series banquet with the first-ever Jason Johnson Sportsmanship Award, which was voted on among his peers. Wilson, who will be scaling back his schedule a bit in 2019, also announced during the banquet that his primary sponsor Hercules Tires had signed on for two more years.

“It was great to be able to close the season with a strong run,” Wilson said. “This year didn’t go as we had planned so to end on a positive note was important. It’s a great honor and means a lot for the World of Outlaws to give me the Jason Johnson Sportsman of the Year Award. Any time you can be recognized in a positive light it’s special and to win any award with Jason Johnson’s name attached to it is very meaningful.”

Grant Survives & Thrives in WDGX Night 2

Justin Grant has won a few and lost a few in the same manner throughout his racing career.  He’s now won and lost in the same manner at Bubba Raceway Park following his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory Friday on night two of “Winter Dirt Games X.”

Smith Dominates East Bay 360 Sprints

Mark Smith was on the threshold of victory in the opening race, denied by a last lap pass for a win. Whether that turn of events was motivation or the idea that Smith has a fast race car, whatever the circumstance, Smith was not to be denied as he marched through the field to claim the Friday win.

Last Lap Hero Windom Scores USAC Sprint Opener

Chris Windom led just one lap in Thursday’s USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season opener at Bubba Raceway Park, but it was the one that paid the most as the Canton, Ill. driver prevailed on a wild final lap scramble that saw three different race leaders edge ahead at one point in an instant Valentine’s Day classic.

Eliason Blasts to East Bay Sprint Victory

The final week of the 43rd annual Winternationals got off to a raucous start with a nailbiting finish in the 25-lap 360 Sprint main event. Early race leader Mark Smith appeared to be destined for the opening night win until Cory Eliason changed the conversation.

Grant Goes to the TOPP in Ocala Sprint Practice

Justin Grant recorded the fastest lap in Wednesday night’s USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car practice session at Bubba Raceway Park in preparation for this weekend’s “Winter Dirt Games X” events.

USAC Sprint Title Defense Begins for Courtney

It’s already been a dream start to the season for Tyler Courtney as he’s continued his roll of success through the offseason following a 2018 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car crown.

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WDGX Opener a Boon to USAC Sprint Title Hopefuls

To roll off the trailer and find immediate success is the ideal goal for all USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car drivers and teams competing in this week’s “Winter Dirt Games X” season openers February 14-15-16 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.

New Car & Driver Combos Greet USAC Sprint Season

Musical chairs was a part of the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car offseason as a multitude of drivers, including six of the top-11 in last year’s standings, have found new homes for the 2019 tour, beginning with this week’s “Winter Dirt Games X” season openers on Feb. 14-15-16 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.

Sunshine Double Dips in Ocala

Sunshine Double Dips in Ocala with 2nd Straight USAC Midget Victory