CONCORD, NC - March 1, 2022 - For the first time since 2019, the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series is gearing up for a heavily anticipated spring swing through the state of California.
After being locked out for two years due to COVID-19 regulations, The Greatest Show on Dirt will make the long-awaited early-season return to The Golden State with a three-week trip that features six races at five different tracks throughout March.
Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, CA on March 11-12 (EVENT INFO)
Merced Speedway in Merced, CA on March 18 (BUY TICKETS)
Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, CA on March 19 (BUY TICKETS)
Bakersfield Speedway in Bakersfield, CA on March 25 (BUY TICKETS)
Perris Auto Speedway in Perris, CA on March 26 (BUY TICKETS)
Leading the charge into their home state is championship contenders Brad Sweet of Grass Valley, CA, and Carson Macedo of Lemoore, CA. Both have enjoyed multiple World of Outlaws victories within California borders and look forward to their next chance to defend home turf this month.
"Anytime you can race close to home, no matter who you are or where you are from, it's a special opportunity," said three-time and defending Series champion, Brad Sweet. "The spring trip to California has always been a fun time on the Outlaw tour, so I'm glad it's finally back on the schedule and hope to see some huge crowds come to support us. These five tracks we've got lined up traditionally put on some awesome racing."
"Man, I'm pumped to get this California trip back," said Macedo, driver of the Jason Johnson Racing #41. "Even before I went full-time with the Outlaws, this swing in the spring was always one of my favorite times of the year as a fan and as a driver. Obviously, I'm a little biased but we get to race at some of the coolest tracks and in front of some of the most passionate fans in the country. This time I get to do it with JJR, so it's a little extra special too."
Teams will begin the 24-hour journey from Paige, TX to Tulare, CA this Sunday following a doubleheader at Texas' Cotton Bowl Speedway. Through the first three of nearly 90 races this year, David Gravel and Big Game Motorsports currently lead the championship standings over Donny Schatz, Sheldon Haudenschild, James McFadden, and Brad Sweet.
The California stay-cation opens with two nights in the Central Valley at Tulare's treacherous Thunderbowl Raceway on March 11-12. It's the most-visited of all five tracks on this swing and therefore the most familiar for drivers like Donny Schatz and David Gravel, who are multi-time winners at the 1/3-mile.
After that, the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars move closer to the Bay Area with a visit to Merced Speedway on March 18 and then Watsonville's Ocean Speedway on March 19. Gravel remains the only active full-timer with a win at Merced, while Sweet holds that honor at Ocean, a track that has seen five winners in five Series races.
It all concludes with a trip down to SoCal for a weekend that highlights Bakersfield Speedway on March 25 and Perris Auto Speedway on March 26. Haudenschild and Sweet are the most recent BAKO victors, whereas Gravel once again owns a PAS win on his resume.
Among the many aspects that make any California swing intriguing is the battle of locals vs. Outlaws. Here's a quick look at some of the best homegrown talent the Golden State will be showcasing this month:
Tim Kaeding of San Jose, CA has earned four of his 21 Series wins at Tulare, tied for the most with Joey Saldana.
Rico Abreu of St. Helena, CA is an eight-time Series winner with two of those coming at the Thunderbowl.
Giovanni Scelzi of Fresno, CA owns three Series victories, but the 20-year-old has yet to beat the Outlaws in his home state.
Dominic Scelzi of Fresno, CA is Gio's older brother and fresh off a massive 21 wins in 2021 with Jimmy Carr aiding his top-tier program.
Shane Golobic of Fremont, CA has beaten the Outlaws at Antioch & Placerville, and now he gets six more chances in the NOS Energy Drink #17W.
Tanner Carrick of Lincoln, CA nearly pulled off a magical upset before heartbreak struck at Gold Cup last year, leaving the 20-year-old hungrier for that first Series win.
Mitchell Faccinto of Hanford, CA has consistently succeeded in the 360 & 410 ranks and now steps into a strong seat aboard the Tarlton #21.
Corey Day of Clovis, CA has opened eyes nationwide under the tutelage of Jason Meyers & Tim Clauson, and he'll be making his World of Outlaws debut this month.
Colby Copeland of Roseville, CA earned a career-best runner-up at Silver Dollar last year and looks for one extra spot this month with six races available.
Justin Sanders of Prunedale, CA has two World of Outlaws podium finishes and enters a new year following a red-hot 2021 season out west.
Although not California born and bred, Kerry Madsen of St. Mary's, NSW, AUS will drive for local owners Dennis & Theresa Roth in the #83JR with a Toyota Racing Development engine under the hood. In that same category, Kings Royal champion Tyler Courtney of Indianapolis, IN is expected to pilot Kevin Kozlowski's #57 with Paul Silva on the wrenches.
That's only a small preview of the many contenders hoping to top the Outlaws in California. For fans unable to attend, you can watch every lap LIVE on DIRTVision.
This three-week journey is the first of two west coast adventures with a September swing to follow for the World of Outlaws. The latter visit is highlighted by Washington's Skagit Nationals (Sept. 1-3) and Grays Harbor Raceway (Sept. 5), then four more dates in California with the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway (Sept. 9-10), the Tom Tarlton Classic at Keller Auto Speedway (Sept. 16), and the 49er Gold Rush Classic at Placerville Speedway (Sept. 17).
THUNDERBOWL RACEWAY WINNERS (27 races):
4 wins - Joey Saldana, Tim Kaeding
3 wins - Donny Schatz
2 wins - David Gravel, Rico Abreu
1 win - Steve Kinser, Erin Crocker, Terry McCarl, Tim Shaffer, Sammy Swindell, Jac Haudenschild, Randy Hannagan, Jason Meyers, Craig Dollansky, Daryn Pittman, Aaron Reutzel, Ian Madsen
MERCED SPEEDWAY WINNERS (4 races):
3 wins - Sammy Swindell
1 win - David Gravel
OCEAN SPEEDWAY WINNERS (5 races):
1 win - Brad Sweet, Steve Kinser, Brad Furr, Andy Hillenburg, Joey Saldana
BAKERSFIELD SPEEDWAY WINNERS (10 races):
3 wins - Steve Kinser
2 wins - Dave Blaney
1 win - Sheldon Haudenschild, Brad Sweet, Craig Dollansky, Doug Wolfgang, Bobby Davis Jr.
PERRIS AUTO SPEEDWAY WINNERS (21 races):
7 wins - Mark Kinser
3 wins - Daryn Pittman
2 wins - Danny Lasoski, Joey Saldana
1 win - David Gravel, Aaron Reutzel, Paul McMahan, Kerry Madsen, Jason Meyers, Johnny Herrera, Craig Dollanky
Photo - Trent Gower