The backstretch wall at The Dirt Track at Charlotte reads, “America’s Home for Racing.” It is a theme that echoes across each of the three facilities lying adjacent in Concord, North Carolina, with The Dirt Track flanked on either side by zMAX Dragway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. Over the course of each Memorial Day Weekend, the moniker is apt.
On the asphalt side, the 1.5-mile speedway hosts the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series as the lead-ins to the Coca-Cola 600 – one of the crown-jewel events for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Charlotte becomes the center of the stock car world for the weekend.
WoO Holiday Program
Meanwhile, for close to two decades, the dirt track across the street has hosted the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series during the holiday program. Sammy Swindell claimed the initial win on Thursday, May 25, 2000, at the state-of-the-art, 4/10-mile oval. Over the years, the Outlaws primarily ran on Friday night, but the venue hadn’t hosted two races on the weekend since the late Greg Hodnett picked up a pair of wins in 2002. Things changed in 2019, with the Outlaws unveiling the inaugural United Rentals Patriot Nationals, the race name a tribute to the fallen military heroes the holiday celebrates.
On a blistering hot weekend with temperatures hovering in the mid 90s, two of the Outlaws’ young stars claimed wins: Giovanni Scelzi and Logan Schuchart.
Friday, the 17-year-old Scelzi started from the second position and used a variety of lines as he stalked the leader, NASCAR star Kyle Larson. Scelzi ultimately made his move on the inside of Turns 3 and 4 with just under five circuits remaining. He then held on to take the victory, with Larson and Schuchart rounding out the top three.
“[Larson] was really fast, I worked the bottom early in the race and just couldn’t quite get to him, and then David [Gravel] passed me,” Scelzi said in his post-race interview. “When I got back by him, I knew it was time to get going to the top. Off of two I started feeling some rubber and I moved down.”
Scelzi saw Larson struggling in the rubber and pounced at the perfect time, knowing the 30-lap feature was in its closing stages. “I’m having so much fun,” Scelzi added, realizing his good fortune at a young age.
The following evening, 10-time Outlaws champion Donny Schatz appeared on his way to victory, having passed Kraig Kinser for the race lead on lap 17. However, the race’s first yellow flag gathered the field with six laps to go. In the closing circuits, several front-running cars had right-rear tires go down, including that of Schatz, leading to multiple caution periods.
Schuchart ultimately found himself in the lead after starting 14th with his own right rear already worn. In fact, the tire was a holdover from last season. It seemed to make little difference.
“Those last couple laps we had a couple of restarts but I’d just still be stuck, I’d feel like I still had grip and when you pass cars with ease that usually means you have a lot more right rear than they do,” he said in Victory Lane.
He then held off a furious charge from Australian driver James McFadden (who had blown a tire earlier in the race) during a green-white-checker finish to take the win. Kerry Madsen finished third to put two Aussies on the podium.
“I didn’t know who was behind me, but I figured some of those guys that kind of blew their tires early would get a new one on and be on the gas right in the middle there trying to rip it knowing that they had a full tire,” Schuchart said. “I heard James on that last lap, I went around one and two and I just heard another engine. We don’t have to run headers here now because I definitely heard a different pitch. My job was just making myself as wide as I possibly could. It’s like a snake moving down the backstretch.”
Along with trophies adorned by a musket, Scelzi and Schuchart both walked away with a $15,000 payday for the win, with each 30-lap A-Man paying $1,000 to start.
The Patriot Nationals
In addition to drawing 31 cars, the World of Outlaws staff believes the inaugural Patriot Nationals further strengthened the ties between the organization and NASCAR.
“The World of Outlaws races have become synonymous with NASCAR events, and I really believe that NASCAR has recognized World of Outlaws as one the premier disciplines in the country, just like we feel the same way about the big track over there,” Jeff Hachmann, World Racing Group Executive Director of Events, told OneDirt.
“This is a humongous weekend. The Coca-Cola 600 has so much history, and we’ve had so much success with the World Finals, we really felt that the fans wanted to see the World of Outlaws for two nights as part of the Coca-Cola 600 weekend. It kind of brings that whole patriotic feel that they have with the 600 right over here to the dirt track.”
NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps) – Night 1: 1. 71-Giovanni Scelzi , 2. 57-Kyle Larson , 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart , 4. 49-Brad Sweet , 5. 41-David Gravel , 6. 11K-Kraig Kinser , 7. 15-Donny Schatz , 8. 18-Ian Madsen , 9. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild , 10. 9-James McFadden , 11. 1A-Jacob Allen , 12. 83-Daryn Pittman , 13. 2M-Kerry Madsen , 14. 19-Brent Marks , 15. 2-Carson Macedo , 16. 22-Cole Duncan , 17. 71P-Parker Price-Miller , 18. 5-Shane Stewart , 19. K4-Chad Kemenah , 20. 7S-Jason Sides , 21. 91-Cale Thomas , 22. 17JR-Ricky Stenhouse , 23. 41S-Dominic Scelzi , 24. 24-Rico Abreu .
Lap Leaders: Kyle Larson 1-24, Giovanni Scelzi 25-30
KSE Hard Charger Award: 1S-Logan Schuchart[+4]
NOS Energy Drink Feature (31 Laps due to green-white-checkered finish) – Night 2: 1. 1S-Logan Schuchart , 2. 9-James McFadden , 3. 2M-Kerry Madsen , 4. 98H-Dave Blaney , 5. 71-Giovanni Scelzi , 6. 1A-Jacob Allen , 7. 83-Daryn Pittman , 8. 7S-Jason Sides , 9. 11K-Kraig Kinser , 10. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild , 11. 15-Donny Schatz , 12. 5-Shane Stewart , 13. 2-Carson Macedo , 14. 18-Ian Madsen , 15. 57-Kyle Larson , 16. 17JR-Ricky Stenhouse , 17. 41-David Gravel , 18. 49-Brad Sweet , 19. 19-Brent Marks , 20. 24-Rico Abreu , 21. 91-Cale Thomas , 22. 41S-Dominic Scelzi , 23. K4-Chad Kemenah , 24. 22-Cole Duncan .
Lap Leaders: Kraig Kinser 1-16, Donny Schatz 17-27, Logan Schuchart 28-31
KSE Hard Charger Award: 9-James McFadden[+16]