Young Drivers Turn Heads During DIRTcar Nationals Barberville, FL -- Feb. 11, 2007 -- Several young drivers turned many heads in the pit area and grandstands over the last six nights of sprint car racing during the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals...
Young Drivers Turn Heads During DIRTcar Nationals
Barberville, FL -- Feb. 11, 2007 -- Several young drivers turned many heads in the pit area and grandstands over the last six nights of sprint car racing during the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park. Two of these drivers will do battle all season long for the World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award.
Brad Sweet wrapped up the week as the Florida DIRTcar Nationals Rookie of the Year for the sprint car portion. He had one Top-10 finish with the O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions. He also was the second fastest in time trials for the World of Outlaws event on February 9, where he finished 12th in the 25-lap A-Feature. He was in the Top-15 at the conclusion of a number of events.
"We learned a lot racing with these guys," said Sweet. "It's always good to come out and do well when you race against the best, and that is what we are racing with now. I've learned that you have to have the car just right and you have to run the car as hard as you can every lap if you want to compete. I'm learning more every time I get onto the race track."
The native of Grass Valley, California is used to running against top notch competition in the Golden State. He also frequents the tracks of the Midwest, where he takes the wing off the car and shows his versatility as a driver.
"The last thing you want to do when you get here is beat youself before you get onto the track," said Sweet, when asked if he ever felt intimidated in a race car. "I've always believed in myself that I can run against anybody and I hope I have proved that. I do the best I can and we seem to do well."
Sam Hafertepe Jr., who will be running with the World of Outlaws this season and is in contention for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award, won his first World of Outlaws heat race on Saturday. He followed that up by claiming the win in the dash, to earn the pole position for the 25-lap A-Feature. This came in only his 16th start in a 410-sprint car.
"You definitely have to stop and pinch yourself sometimes out there," said Hafertepe, a native of Sunnyvale, Texas. "All these guys have so much more experience than I do, and I am just trying to learn every chance I get from them. It really pumps me up to know that we can run up front with these guys."
Tony Bruce Jr., who also is a contender for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award this season with the World of Outlaws, turned in two stellar qualifying efforts during the DIRTcar Nationals. He wrapped up the event by setting fast time on Sunday in World of Outlaws action with a very solid field of 51 cars on hand. He also turned the fourth fastest lap in time trials in an All Stars race a few days prior.
"The guys gave me a real good car, and Paul Kistler builds one hell of a motor," said Bruce Jr. "It makes my job real easy, to turn left and don't lift. It's real important to set a good time in qualifying to at least be in the Top-16. Quick time is definitely an added bonus, and we get a few more points for it."
Cody Darrah, who is the nephew of 360 OCT World of Outlaws Late Model Series standout Rick Eckert, set fast time in the World of Outlaws season opener last Friday, with nearly 60 cars on hand. He also turned in two qualifying efforts of fourth or better with the All Stars. He ended the week with a fourth-place effort in time trials on Sunday.
"It's good to be fast again tonight to show that is was not a fluke the other night," said Darrah, a native of Red Lion, Pennsylvania. "It's a great learning experience, because these guys are so quick. Right now I am just trying to get laps and be competitive at the same time. It's a little comparable to Williams Grove here (at Volusia). It's really wide open and gives you some time to think. It's a real fast track."
Bronson Maeschen, hailing from Pleasantville, Iowa, was another of the youthful drivers that was fast, as he turned in the third quickest lap in time trials last Saturday. The run was his best career results with the series. He will certainly use what he learned this season as he begins his season in a couple months at the famed Knoxville Raceway, where the World of Outlaws will race twice this season.
"The track has been different every night, and we have learned a lot," said Maeschen. "Every time we thought we had the track figured out, we've had to go back and start over. It's good to get some laps in that way. You're out here racing with the best and its hard clean racing. That is the best way to get experience."