Kasey Kahne, Brad Sweet Discuss Title Bout at Can-Am World Finals
A series of heavyweight bouts will be fought over three days in this weekend's Can-Am World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Cars championship battle comes to America's Home for Racing for the ultimate showdown on Carolina clay, as only eight points separate leader Brad Sweet from defending series champion Donny Schatz.
Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing, has a series-high 16 victories - but he enters this weekend having never recorded a Charlotte triumph. Schatz, a 10-time series champion and 12-time Charlotte winner, is gearing up for the possibility of another celebration with his Tony Stewart Racing team.
Schatz won last year's Can-Am World Finals. If he's to win an 11th championship, he may have to win again to catch Sweet - who has his eyes on the prize of a lifetime.
"We've been really close (at Charlotte)," Sweet said. "We've had some fast cars there. We just need to finish the job. This year, we've got a little better hot rod than we've had in the past. I look forward to getting there. You have to get yourself in a good position and qualifying on Thursday is very important.
"It's hard not to see where the points are, because it's what everybody talks about. As far as what we're doing, we want to win the championship as much as anybody and it's obviously come down to these last two races. We want to go in there and do our best and not be thinking about points or someone else. If you win the races, you control your own destiny, so that's our mindset moving forward. I'm excited to get out there and compete. There's a lot of great dirt fans here and they get a great ticket, seeing all three classes and the best dirt racers going at it."
There's a measure of excitement among the car owners entering the weekend. Before they were NASCAR superstars, Stewart and Kahne come from sprint car racing backgrounds. Each has won Outlaw sprint titles as a car owner. This year, with the battle as close as can be, the stakes are high once again.
"I think I'm as nervous as the drivers are and as Kasey (Kahne) is as a car owner, too," Stewart said. "They're literally eight points away from each other and with the way that World of Outlaw points are, it's two points per position. So we've got two races left. And they're literally four finishing positions apart at this point. … I'm sure Brad and Kasey and Donny are nervous. I'm not really that nervous, because it's like we've been through this a million times and know what happens, but I'm excited."
Kahne's first title as a team owner came in 2013, when Daryn Pittman won the championship by only 14 points. Like Stewart, Kahne knows what to expect when one of his cars is in the hunt for a title at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
"It's just cool going into the final race knowing you have a shot at the championship," Kahne said. "The reason we're at where we are at this point in the season is what our guys have done - they've won a lot of races. It seems like they keep getting stronger. It's fun to see them get to this point and it'll be fun to see what they can do this weekend.
"Charlotte can be a really fun track. World Finals always puts on a great show with all of the cars there. It's a big deal and that's why there's so many people who come to support the race. To me, it's a big deal for dirt racing and the World of Outlaws. I'm excited for Brad and excited we have a shot at the championship. Hopefully the best team and driver gets the win."
The weekend's festivities begin on Wednesday with PRN's At The Track World Finals Kick-Off Party at The Pavilion at zMAX Dragway, featuring World of Outlaws driver appearances, live music and the first opportunity for fans to buy their Speedway Children's Charities 50/50 raffle tickets for a chance to win up to $125,000.