Gravel Gets Lernersville WoO Win

The red clay at Lernerville Speedway again was covered by Gravel on Saturday night.

David Gravel passed current points leader and two-time defending series champion Brad Sweet on a Lap 22 restart for what proved to be the winning move and earned $10,000 at the Commonwealth Clash World of Outlaws sprint car race.

It was Gravel’s fifth career win at the Buffalo Township track.

“I just sent it in there and was able to get around (Sweet), and that was the race,” Gravel said of his winning pass. “After that, I knew I just had to get my elbows up and run hard for 11 laps.”

Sweet, who won the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup in July, settled for second. Ten-time World of Outlaws champ Donny Schatz rounded out the podium.

Gravel, a Watertown, Conn., native, had a perfect night, setting fast time winning his heat, the dash and the feature, but he had to earn the feature victory.

Outside pole sitter Wayne Johnson got the jump on Gravel on the initial start and took the early lead.

Sweet slipped by Gravel for second in lapped traffic and took the lead from Johnson on lap 13. Gravel worked his way past Johnson a lap later to get to second.

Sweet led the next nine circuits, but the caution came out on lap 22 when five-time Lernerville track champion AJ Flick slowed because of broken rear axle.

On the restart, Gravel got a run on Sweet on the back stretch. The two drivers raced wheel to wheel into turns three and four, and Gravel used high-side momentum to drive by Sweet.

From there Gravel pulled away.

“I made a mistake. I probably should have chosen the top on the restart,” Sweet said. “I hate choosing the top, because it seems to bite you more times than it helps you. I thought I could get enough bite on the bottom, but I spun my tires pretty hard on the front stretch going into (turn) one. I tried to shoot across and block his run, but he was already there.”

Former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was in attendance driving the Roth Motorsports No. 83 entry. He finished ninth.

Brandon Spithaler was the top local finisher with a 13th-place finish. Other local drivers who qualified for the feature were Sye Lynch (17th), Michael Bauer (18th), Clay Riney (19th), Flick (20th), Carl Bowser (21st) and Jack Sodeman, Jr. (24th). Darin Gallagher received a provisional from Lernerville to start 25th in the feature. He finished 22nd. Aliquippa native Tim Shaffer qualified for the feature through his heat race, but mechanical issues forced him to scratch. He was scored with a 25th-place finish.

Gravel was fastest of the 34 entries with a time of 12.416 seconds. He was less than a tenth of a second off the track record of 12.334 set by Joey Saldana in 2002.

Gravel, Johnson, Sweet and Schatz won heat races.

Bauer won the last-chance showdown. Sodeman, Riney and Paulie Colagiovanni also qualified out of the last-chance showdown.

Logan McCandless claimed Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 sprint feature for his first career win at Lernerville. Jarrett Rosencrance finished second, and Jeff Weaver, Jr. rounded out the podium.

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