While Mother Nature was the biggest winner in 2018, with over 20 rainouts, the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series still was able to complete 71 main event race programs during their 40thanniversary season. Established veterans continue to show their dominance, while a handful of young drivers began to make their mark on the Outlaws trail, showing that the future of the sport is in very good hands.
This second edition of the Season Review series will take a look at the drivers who finished first through sixth in points. Of special note, during the season-ending awards banquet, the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series presented the Jason Johnson Racing team with a trophy for finishing fifth in points as that is where the late driver was ranked at the time of his tragic accident in June.
Logan Schuchart- 6th in points
Logan Schuchart had the best season of his career with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series in 2018, in terms of consistency. The young Pennsylvanian finished a career-best sixth in the standings on the strength of 43 top-10 and 24 top-five finishes. Those numbers easily eclipsed his 2017 stats. Schuchart also led the series with eight Fast Time Awards in time trials.
In the win column, Schuchart was down a couple from last year, but scored the biggest payday of his career, with a win in the Ironman 55 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Missouri. Schuchart also won at Fulton Speedway in New York as well as the “Hard Knox” Friday portion of the Knoxville Nationals to earn a spot in the Saturday night main event of sprint car racing’s biggest race.
Schuchart will return to the Outlaws trail again in 2019, along with his Shark Racing teammate, Jacob Allen. The pair will both have Drydene Performance as their primary sponsor.
Shane Stewart- 5th in points
Shane Stewart had a tough 2018, there is no other way to put it. Driving for the re-branded Kyle Larson Racing team, the veteran driver had speed most of the season, but was plagued by more than his fair share of bad luck. The World Finals were a microsm of the season, as Stewart was dominating the Friday portion of the event, which was run on Saturday afternoon, when he had a flat tire. Surprisingly, that was his on DNF (did not finish) of the season.
Stewart, who finished fifth in points for the second straight year, picked up one win in 2018, with that coming in the Joker’s Wild at the famed Eldora Speedway in Ohio, as part of the Kings Royal. Also on the plus side, he led the series with 22 heat race wins. The native of Bixby, OK, wrapped up the season with 46 top-10 finishes of which 18 were top-five showings, which were both down from 2017.
Stewart, who parted ways with Kyle Larson Racing, following the World Finals, will pilot the No. 5 for CJB Motorsports in 2019.
“I have to thank Kyle (Larson) and Justin (Marks) for giving me five great years behind the wheel of the (No.) 2 car,” said Stewart. “As a driver there is nothing better than being able to compete and win at the highest level of sprint car racing. We have enjoyed some big wins together and never finished worse than sixth in the championship point standings. That in itself says a lot about all the guys that have worked really hard for me. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and I have to say a big thank you to everyone.”
Daryn Pittman- 4th in points
Daryn Pittman described his 2018 season on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series tour as a “roller-coaster.” He and the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 9 had a variety of ups and downs. The biggest ups were the nine wins they accumulated en route to finishing fourth in points.
After a slow start to the season, Pittman scored his first win of the season in early April at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, AR. That was his first top-five finish of the season and he followed it up the next night with another win at Tri-State Speedway in Indiana. Just two races later, Pittman was back in victory lane at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Texas.
Wins followed later in the season at Nodak Speedway in North Dakota on Father’s Day, Beaver Dam Raceway in Wisconsin, Big Sky Speedway in Montana, Skagit Speedway in Washington, Calistoga Speedway in California and Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City.
On the stats sheet, Pittman recorded 47 top-10 finishes, with 24 of those being top-five performances, both down a bit from 2017.
With sponsorship being an uncertainly for the No. 9 team in 2019, Pittman recently signed with Roth Motorsports to drive the famed No. 83 on the full World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series tour in 2019. During his six seasons at Kasey Kahne Racing, Pittman won 47 races and finished fourth or better in points each and every year.
“I would like to thank Kasey Kahne and everyone associated with Kasey Kahne Racing for six great years on the road in the No. 9 car,” Pittman said. “To win a World of Outlaws Championship and win a ton of races will certainly always be a very special part of my career that I truly do cherish and I wish KKR the best moving forward. I am extremely excited for a new chapter in 2019 in joining Roth Motorsports and continuing on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series tour. The No. 83 is a very iconic car that I am excited to drive, and I am looking forward to the challenge of finding success and putting this car in victory lane where it belongs.”
David Gravel- 3rd in points
After having a career-year in 2017, the expectations were very high for David Gravel and the CJB Motorsports team in 2018. While the team had a very consistent year and finished third in points for the third straight season, the results didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations all involved had entering the season.
Gravel was victorious five times including at Cotton Bowl Speedway in Texas in April, Tri-State Speedway in Indiana in May, I-96 Speedway in Michigan and Knoxville Raceway in Iowa in June and at Ransomville Speedway in New York in July. On the stats sheet, the native of Watertown, CT, had 54 top-10 finishes, with 29 of those being top-showings, which was down in both categories from 2017.
Gravel parted ways with CJB Motorsports following the World Finals and will pilot the Jason Johnson Racing No. 41 in 2019.
“Overall, it was a good season but disappointing based on what we had achieved in the prior year,” Gravel said. “We had some highlights. One of them for me was the win at I-96. I really enjoyed the season and my time with CJB Motorsports. We won a lot of big races. One that sticks out to me was the National Open at Williams Grove. That one will stick with me because of what it meant to Barry (Jackson) and Chad (Clemens.) I wish the team well going forward.”
Brad Sweet- 2nd in points
Brad Sweet had another solid year behind the wheel of the No. 49 for Kasey Kahne Racing on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series trail in 2018. The veteran driver earned a career-high nine wins and finished second in points for the second straight year as he continues to chase his first Outlaws title.
The highlight of the season for Sweet was winning the $150,000 Knoxville Nationals, which was the biggest victory of his career. The Californian also visited the winner’s circle at Salina Highbanks Speedway in Oklahoma, Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana, Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin, Black Hills Speedway in South Dakota, Silver Dollar Speedway in California, Placerville Speedway in California (an event he was promoting), Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania and the Terre Haute Action Track in Indiana.
On the stats sheet, Sweet 58 top-10 finishes, with 43 top-five performances, which both were second-most on the tour, behind Schatz. Sweet was the only driver in 2018 to transfer from a heat race to the main event in all 71 races, thus never having to run a B-main.
Sweet, who was paired with crew chief Eric Prutzman for the first time in 2018, will return next season as seeks his first World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series title.
Donny Schatz- Champion
Donny Schatz and the entire Tony Stewart Racing team showed again in 2018 that they were the team to beat night in and night out on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series trail, but it was not an easy road. The team’s crew chief, Ricky Warner, was sidelined with health issues early in the season and Steve Swenson, the car chief, suffered a broken ankle during the Spring West Coast Swing and missed time as well.
When the final checkered flag of the season fell, Schatz had earned his 10thoverall Outlaws title and fifth straight as he continues to add to his legacy in the sport. The North Dakota native won 22 races, which marked the sixth straight season he has won 20 or more times. Schatz also led the series with 66 top-10 runs in 71 starts, with 52 of those being top-fives.
Schatz scored big wins in the Kings Royal at the famed Eldora Speedway, the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville and the Tuscorora 50 at Port Royal Speedway. He also won in his home state of North Dakota three times, including both races at River Cities Speedway and at Red River Valley Speedway.
“We had a stage when we felt we weren’t as good in the middle of the summer as we would have liked to have been,” said Schatz. “I feel like we were off base and had our combinations scrambled a little bit. We didn’t have the performance we wanted and I think that’s what sticks out the most. We had to battle through adversity one race at a time. When things aren’t going well, you remember it more because you’re trying to fix that situation or that issue. It seemed like it went on and on, but when I look back at it now, we had a great year. I guess the expectations are so high that maybe those bad nights are just the ones I remember the most.”
Schatz, who became just the second driver in series history to win double digit championships, joining 20-time series titlist Steve Kinser in that department, will return in 2019 in search of his 11th title.