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Big Game Beatdown: David Gravel Leads Every Lap For I-55 Victory

Nothing is slowing David Gravel right now. And that held true again on Friday night.

Lapped traffic couldn’t slow him. Cautions that erased his lead couldn’t slow him. Even a slide job that briefly cost him the lead couldn’t slow him at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.

By Alex Nieten

Gravel started on the front row of the Feature and drove a masterful 40 laps on his way to a World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car victory at the Pevely, MO bullring. The Watertown, CT native sliced the Big Game Motorsports machine through heavy traffic and held off one strong challenge from Michael “Buddy” Kofoid to secure his third win of 2024.

“What a car we had tonight,” Gravel said. “I was nervous early on. Qualifying didn’t go very good, but we were still able to get a good Qualifying effort there. Cody (Jacobs) kept working on it, and in the Dash I knew we had something really good. It feels good to win one here. I haven’t won here since like 2016. It’s been way too long.”

The win marked the 91st of Gravel’s career with The Greatest Show on Dirt, equaling him with Brad Sweet for ninth on the all-time win list. It also was his 33rd since joining Tod Quiring’s Big Game team, making the organization the team he’s won the most often with in World of Outlaws competition. Gravel now owns a pair of I-55 checkered flags, and the track is the 19th in which he’s won at multiple times in Series competition.

Gravel started the race in the second position as Toyota Racing Dash winner – Giovanni Scelzi – led the field to green. Right away Gravel flexed his muscle by powering around Scelzi on the top to secure the top spot and lead the opening lap.

As they worked through the opening circuits Gravel committed to the low line while Scelzi worked to build momentum on the top. Scelzi kept the KCP Racing #18 glued behind Gravel, but Buddy Kofoid began to reel them both in quickly. On the sixth lap Kofoid slipped under Scelzi to take over the runner-up spot.

Up ahead Gravel began to negotiate heavy lapped traffic. Kofoid started to close in for the top spot, but the race’s first caution on Lap 9 gave Gravel a clear track again.

On the restart Gravel moved to the topside, and Kofoid fired a slider at him aboard the Roth Motorsports #83. The Penngrove, CA native couldn’t quite clear Gravel as Kofoid settled back into second down the back straightaway. It only took a few laps before Gravel neared the tail of the field, but it was déjà vu as the yellow lights again flashed right when the leaders were staring at heavy traffic.

The next restart served up Gravel’s biggest challenge of the night as he again went for the cushion in Turn 1. Kofoid tossed another slide job and cleared him with this attempt. As they exited Turn #2, Gravel aimed the Huset’s Speedway #2 low and drove back by Kofoid down the back straightaway.

When the race entered the second half, Gravel truly began to show what his machine was capable of. He dipped and dived his way through traffic, stretching his advantage to nearly three seconds at times. Behind him, a war between Kofoid, Scelzi, Bill Balog, and Carson Macedo broke out for positioning inside the top five. The group swapped many sliders and crossovers as they jockeyed for spots while Gravel drove away.

A late caution with seven laps remaining gave Kofoid and the rest of the frontrunners one last shot at Gravel, but he wasted no time pulling ahead on the final restart. Kofoid and Macedo went to battle for second as Gravel drove away to the win and his fifth consecutive top-two finish.

“It’s a lot of fun to drive this #2 car right now. I feel like we’ve kind of been there the whole year other than Cotton Bowl when we got into a crash and had to come to the work area,” Gravel said. “Everything has been going really good. We’re just going to stay focused, put our heads down, and keep working.”

Kofoid fended off Macedo’s late challenge to claim the runner-up spot, marking his best finish of his rookie season. The 22-year-old is now on a roll of seven straight top 10s with a 6.29 average finish over that span. Kofoid found that the race’s cautions came during inopportune moments that might’ve prevented him from mustering a better challenge for the win.

“I feel like we were every bit as good as them (Gravel), maybe more towards the end,” Kofoid said. “Lapped traffic is kind of where I thrive and where our car seems to be really good right now. We’d get to traffic and get to him, and then the yellow would come out. It kept repeating itself a few times. I think we definitely got a lot better throughout the night. I went from being very uncomfortable to having a chance to win.”

Completing the top three was Carson Macedo and the Jason Johnson Racing team. Macedo hasn’t missed the top 10 since the final night of DIRTcar Nationals in early February as he continues to build momentum. The Lemoore, CA native owns podiums in five of the last seven World of Outlaws races at I-55. He used some strong restarts to climb from the fifth starting spot to second at one point before settling for third.

“I think plugging the bottom was kind of my goal there,” Macedo said of his restarts. “I felt like a lot of guys would kind of sling around the top, and if I could hit it down there right and not grab that little lip and get my front end over, I could execute down there pretty nice, get down the back stretch, and beat them into Turn 3. Hats off to Philip Dietz, Adam Zimmerman, and Robby McQuinn. They worked hard all night.”

Bill Balog and Giovanni Scelzi completed the top five.

A 24th to 12th drive in his first Series start of the season gave Noah Gass the KSE Racing Hard Charger.

Giovanni Scelzi claimed his second Simpson Quick Time of the year and the 13th of his career.

NOS Energy Drink Heats One, Three, and Four went to Giovanni Scelzi (43rd Heat Race win of career), Carson Macedo (115th of career), and David Gravel (246th of career). Milton Hershey School Heat Two belonged to Donny Schatz (522nd of career).

Logan McCandless won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars finish up the weekend at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on Saturday, April 13. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.


NOS Energy Drink Feature (40 Laps): 1. 2-David Gravel[2]; 2. 83-Michael Kofoid[3]; 3. 41-Carson Macedo[5]; 4. 17B-Bill Balog[4]; 5. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[1]; 6. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[6]; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart[11]; 8. 15-Donny Schatz[7]; 9. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[13]; 10. 122-Joe B Miller[12]; 11. 70-Kraig Kinser[17]; 12. 20G-Noah Gass[24]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[18]; 14. 24D-Danny Sams III[22]; 15. 7S-Landon Crawley[14]; 16. 23B-Brian Bell[15]; 17. 3-Ayrton Gennetten[10]; 18. 23-Garet Williamson[9]; 19. 29-Logan McCandless[21]; 20. 99-Skylar Gee[23]; 21. 21R-Gunner Ramey[16]; 22. 24T-Christopher Thram[19]; 23. 73-Scotty Thiel[20]; 24. 87-Aaron Reutzel[8]

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