HARTFORD — David Gravel has enjoyed his visits to Hartford Speedway, and the Midwest in general.
Gravel rallied after a late caution flag to win Friday’s ‘Battle of Michigan’ at Hartford Speedway, part of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series.
Gravel became the first driver to win multiple times in the Outlaws’ nine visits to Hartford Speedway, as he also won the last time the series was here in 2017. Gravel won another race in Michigan in 2018, and has multiple wins at Wilmot Raceway in Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin and Michigan treat me really, really well,” Gravel said. “I like racing here, we always have good crowds. People are definitely passionate around here for sure.”
Gravel had a late lead but lost it to Logan Schuchart with four laps to go. He benefitted from a caution flag with three laps left, and was able to pass Schuchart on the restart and take home the victory.
“Sometimes you want to be on the good side of the racing luck, and luckily we were tonight,” Gravel said. “I lost the lead, just got complacent running the bottom, got a little free and it just opened up the door for somebody else. (Schuchart) was probably running third, fourth or fifth and had nothing to lose, found the top groove and I was just a sitting duck. The restart gave me a second chance.”
Schuchart had rallied from ninth to take the lead, but was aware that the restart wasn’t likely to help him hang on.
“I feel like if it kept going, we had the race we wanted,” Schuchart said. “The caution came out, and I knew it was going to be bad. I knew how my car was, it was good in traffic when it’s slick and slow like that. I knew Dave was caught up in traffic before, that’s how we were able to get by him.
“I knew it’d be tough in the open air, I knew he’d be back faster than I was. I tried to pick a line that would block both ends, and Dave just hit his marks, made a good lap and made it stick and was able to get by me.”
Ten-time series champion Donny Schatz finished third and Carson Macedo was fourth.
Macedo won his heat race and the Fast Pass Dash, allowing him to start in front. He led for the first half of the feature race before being passed by Gravel.
Series points leader Brad Sweet was involved in a wreck early in the race, but bounced back to finish sixth. Schatz is currently second and Gravel third in the points standings.
“There’s still a lot of races left,” Gravel said.
“If we kill it the rest of the year, we still have a chance to do great things. If we keep this up, keep applying the pressure, who knows what could happen.”
Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSanders