Story via worldofoutlaws.com/sprintcars/
By Nick Graziano | September 6, 2020
Sheldon Haudenschild did what few have ever accomplished.
He passed Kyle Larson for the lead and drove away, putting himself on a trajectory to his fourth World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win of the season Saturday night at Huset’s Speedway.
However, with nine laps to go, his apparent victory vanished with a pop. His right rear tire let go, forcing him to get it replaced and restart 14th with nine laps left.
To his advantage, multiple other drivers suffered the same fate. Those who had yet to blow a tire knew there was a potential inevitability of it occurring on the rubbered track and tried to treat what tread they had left with care. Haudenschild no longer had to. With a fresh right rear Hoosier eager to clutch dirt, Haudenschild could run twice as hard as the cars ahead of him.
Between drivers losing tires and Haudenschild able to pass cars like he had double the horsepower, the NOS Energy Drink #17 was back on Larson’s bumper in four laps. He had a car capable of passing the Finley Farms #57 yet again, however, Larson was forced to make the pass easy on Haudenschild when he blew a tire himself.
With the lead back in his possession, Haudenschild would never relinquish it again. On the final lap, the smoke show put on by his right rear through the final turn became a display of celebration as Haudenschild claimed his fourth win of the year and this first at Huset’s Speedway.
“I knew to just go around the outside of them (the cars ahead) once I had a fresh tire on, and do it before the 2 (car of Carson Macedo) and the 83 (car of Daryn Pittman) because they were both fresh, too,” said Haudenschild, of Wooster, OH. “Just tried to get in front of them early and also save and try to make some passes there and hope you get the lap in. I don’t know how many times we probably all three passed a bunch of cars and then the lap came back (because of a caution coming out).
“Man, I can’t give it up enough for this NOS Energy Drink team. They’ve been working their asses off. They never give up and tonight was a perfect example of that.”
Larson entered the race looking for a redeeming win of his own. The last time he was at Huset’s this year, he flipped and destroyed the car he’d dominated the year with. The Silva Motorsports team unloaded as good as they ever have with Larson, setting the quickest time in Hot Laps, setting Quick Time in Qualifying and winning their Drydene Heat Race.
Jacob Allen stepped up to the plate in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash against Larson, though. He started on the pole but lost the lead to Larson on the first lap. Unwilling to let the white #57 drive away and claim another win, Allen muscled his way back by Larson to reclaim the lead the next lap. It was then his turn to drive away with the Dash win – placing him on the pole for the 35-lap Feature.
When the first World of Outlaws Feature in four years at Huset’s Speedway commenced, Larson launched around the outside of Allen to claim the lead on the first lap. Haudenschild used the top lane to his advantage, as well, powering around the outside of Allen through Turns 1 and 2 and taking second before they reached Turn 3.
Larson then became the game of Haudenschild’s hunt. His #57 car being lose off each corner didn’t help his chances. Five laps into the Feature, his car was nearly at a 90-degree angle off Turn 2. He managed to steer the car back straight and hold Haudenschild behind him. However, three laps later, Haudenschild slid to the outside of Larson in Turn 1 and then rocketed by him for the lead off Turn 2.
The race was in Haudenschild’s hand for about the next 20 laps, holding a more than two second lead over Larson. The attention was on the battle for second. Larson held it, but Allen worked him every lap with Kerry Madsen close behind, waiting for someone to slip up. While none of the drivers slipped, signs of their tires failing came to light with 13 laps to go. Daryn Pittman – running in the top-five – was the first to blow a tire. A few laps later, Haudenschild suffered his tire failure, along with Carson Macedo.
Those three became the new class of the field once a new Hoosier sneaker adorned their right rear. They charged their way through the field with Haudenschild leading the pack. Sheldon Haudenschild win at Huset’s / Trent Gower photoOnce Haudenschild brought the battle back to Larson, who was about coasting through the turns to save his tires, Macedo entered the fight, as well. He kept himself within striking distance as Haudenschild and Larson waged war. When Larson’s tire finally gave out and Haudenschild had to throw his car sideways in Turn 4 to avoid hitting him, Macedo pounced and darted by Haudenschild to take the lead. However, the caution came out before the lap was completed, putting Macedo back behind Haudenschild on the restart.
The race resumed for the final time with five laps to go. Haudenschild did what few have ever accomplished. He successfully rebounded from suffering a flat tire to go from the lead, to the rear and back to the lead, claiming the $10,000 top prize.
Macedo finished in the runner-up spot for the second week in a row and earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after starting the race in 14th.
“Unfortunate there, that last time Kyle blew a tire and I got under Sheldon and got to the line, but it wasn’t quite enough,” said Macedo, of Lemoore, CA. “They threw the yellow before that and it ended up reverting back to the last lap and ended up running second. Hats off to Sheldon and his team. Congrats on the win. We just got to do a better job throughout the night. Put ourselves in better positions to start up front in these Feature races.”
“I don’t know how we ended up back here,” said Pittman, of Owasso, OK, with a smirk. “The truth is I don’t think I could have ran any harder anyway because we were a lap away, at most, from popping our second tire. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. We’ll take this third.”
All five drivers in the top five in points blew a tire at some point during the race. Current points leader Brad Sweet managed to get back to fourth. Logan Schuchart, who is six points behind Sweet in second, finished seventh and 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz, who is now 74 points behind Sweet in third, finished sixth.
Haudenschild has moved up to fourth in points – 80 behind Sweet – and Macedo is fifth – 82 behind Sweet.
With one more round at Huset’s Speedway left, Haudenschild will again look to do what few have ever accomplished.