PAIGE, Texas — Much like his legendary father Jac Haudenschild, Sheldon Haudenschild is continuing to thrill fans nationwide in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
His latest act came in Friday’s opener to the Drydene Texas Two-Step at Cotton Bowl Speedway.
Coming from sixth, Haudenschild braved the outside and bolted to the cushion at a time when his competitors were glued to the bottom. His risk paid off in a big way as he rocketed to the lead on lap 25 and made his moves around Aaron Reutzel and Brad Sweet look like a breeze. The final 11 laps flew by as the 27-year-old star sliced and diced his way through a tricky run of lapped traffic that included several close calls.
By topping his counterparts for the second-straight week, Haudenschild becomes the first repeat winner of the season. It’s his 16th career World of Outlaws win and continues to send the confidence of the Stenhouse Jr. Marshall Racing No. 17 through the roof.
“Winning these [Outlaw] races is a dream come true,” Haudenschild told a huge crowd. “This NOS Energy Drink car is on rails right now. These guys Ripper, Drew, Nickolas, they all deserve these wins. We’re working really hard and the results just keep coming.”
Before Haudenschild wowed the crowd, Reutzel was the talk of town. In his home state for the first time as a full-time World of Outlaws driver, Reutzel and the Roth Motorsports No. 83 looked unstoppable for much of Friday’s act at the Cotton Bowl third-mile oval.
Reutzel, the leading Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender, set a track record (13.356 seconds), won his Team Drydene Heat Race, drew the pole of the redraw and won the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash.
He led the opening 12 laps of the 35-lap feature before a restart allowed Sweet to lineup alongside him, and subsequently pass him around the outside.
Sweet ensued to lead his own share of 12 laps before Reutzel re-entered the picture and Haudenschild emerged to make it a three-way war the top spot. On lap 25, Haudenschild followed Sweet down the backstretch but refused to follow the Kasey Kahne Racing, NAPA Auto Parts #49 to the bottom of turn three.
Instead, he hauled it off into the corner and buried it deep into the cushion, finding the momentum and sweeping right around the outside of Sweet to take the lead away.
Haudenschild maneuvered through traffic and ran off to a 0.571-second advantage at the checkered flag.
“Ripper and I really haven’t had a lot of time together with this car,” Haudenschild noted. “Getting to work with him and the guys on developing a good base line setup for when we show up has helped a lot. Starting up front is huge too, you’re not gonna beat those guys starting behind them every night. We’ve been working on our qualifying too. We’re just making little strides everywhere. It’s great to be winning like this so early in the season.”
Closing out the podium behind Haudenschild was a dejected Reutzel in second and a consistent Brad Sweet in third.
“I’m actually really disappointed,” Reutzel said. “I just did a shitty job driving and you have to be a better driver to win these races. Car was fantastic, I think it was the winning car. These are hard to win. You have to run 35 perfect laps and I didn’t do that tonight. It’s good to get back on the podium after last weekend, though.”
Sweet, the two-time and defending World of Outlaws champion, re-claimed the early-season points lead with his fourth-straight podium appearance.
“The driver just needs to step up there,” Sweet admitted on his loss of the lead. “I knew I needed to move up, especially when you’re going that slow on the bottom. The top just didn’t look like it was there, though. I was trapped and got going slow, so I knew someone would find something. Didn’t surprise me when it was Sheldon that drove around me. I tried to keep up, but he was just a little better tonight.”
Ian Madsen recorded a season-high fourth-place finish in the McGhee No. 11. Donny Schatz earned his fifth consecutive top-five finish aboard the Tony Stewart Racing No. 15.
To see full results, turn to the next page.