by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

It was Attica Raceway Park’s crown jewel event: The Brad Doty Classic. A race that all drivers: Outlaw, local, or invader have circled on their calendar. Forty-four of the world’s best sprint car drivers showed up to honor the living legend and put on a whale of a race for a packed house in Attica, Ohio. 

As the sun was setting, David Gravel and Brad Sweet led the field to the green flag for the 40 lap,  $15,000-to-win feature. Sweet took the early advantage over Kerry Madsen and Kyle Larson as Gravel fell back. Sweet held about a second lead as Larson made a move on Madsen on lap three for the second position. Even with the changing of second place, Sweet was able to maintain a steady one second lead over Larson. 

The first yellow flew on lap eight for a spinning Tanner Thorson put Larson on his brother-in-law’s bumper, but also got Sweet in clean air. Sweet held serve on the restart as Sheldon Haudenschild brought the crowd to life as he challenged Larson for second. Sweet built a quick .699 second lead but a yellow flew for Spencer Bayston, who was around in turns three and four. 

There was about four seconds of green flag racing on the ensuing restart, and after those four seconds, the yellow came back out for Hunter Schuerenberg, who got spun in turns three and four coming to the green flag. Sweet again did what he had to do on the restart as he chased his first Outlaw win in Attica. As Haudenschild and Madsen battled for third on lap 11, Haudenschild found himself doing a 360 in turn four, necessitating another caution. 

This would be the restart that Larson was building up for. Sweet chose the inside, like he had on all the previous restarts, leaving Larson the top. Larson got a great run on the front stretch, which carried into turns one and two, where he was able to get a huge run down the backstretch and snatch the lead from Sweet. After 15 circuits, Larson led by .982 seconds over Sweet as Donny Schatz entered into the chat in fourth place. 

The yellow came out once again for Cap Henry on lap 16. Larson executed the restart perfectly and rocketed out to a 1.143 second lead that grew to 1.635 seconds by the halfway mark, as Schatz got by Madsen for third. 

Larson held a steady 1.3 second lead as he clicked off laps and approached lapped traffic on lap 26. The lead shrank from 1.5 seconds to 1.245 and then 1.115 seconds on lap 27. Larson had a difficult time with the first couple of lapped cars, but was finally able to get by them on the front stretch on lap 28 as Schatz got by Sweet for second.

This is where it got good. The stage was set for a classic Larson vs. Schatz showdown, and those two delivered for everyone in attendance. Schatz took another tenth out of Larson’s lead on lap 30 to bring it down to 1.089 seconds, and another two tenths on lap 31 as Schatz kept closing in. On lap 33, it was down to .477 seconds, and then .355 seconds.

On lap 34, Schatz showed Larson a nose in turns one and two, but Larson was able to maintain the lead. Larson scooted away briefly, but Schatz was right back underneath Larson in turns one and two again on lap 36. Larson momentarily had issues with the lapped car of Cap Henry, but Larson was able to get Henry between himself and Schatz. Schatz disposed of Henry quickly though, and Schatz was right on Larson’s bumper as they took the white flag. 

Larson nailed turns one and two perfectly, and there was nothing Schatz could do. Larson got a great run down the backstretch and that’s all he needed to become a two-time Brad Doty Classic winner. Larson crossed the line .364 seconds before Schatz, and swept the two Outlaw races at Attica Raceway Park for the year.