(photo courtesy of tommytarlton.com)
Last Saturday night I took both of my sons, Jason and Jeremy, as well as my grandson, Cole, to the Tulare Thunderbowl in Tulare, CA, the place where this old redneck was born, to watch The King of the West Series sprint car races. As you all know, I will do what ever I can, any place, any where, any time, to “work on my redneck”! Therefore, being in Fresno for the week lended itself to a great night at the race track.
The venue for night was three divisions of racing. There was the 410 cubic inch wingless sprint cars, the 410 cubic inch winged sprint cars, and the IMCA modifieds slinging dirt and hauling the mail!
Many of the marquee names in the NorCal winged, and non-winged, sprint car community was on hand. Among the premier drivers of this region that raced were the three Keadings, “King Of the West” Brent Keading, and sons Tim and Bud, who are equally as fast as the old man. Additionally competing at this event was Jonathan Allard, Oregon favorite Roger Crockett, local favorite Tommy Tarlton, and Kyle Larson.
Notwithstanding the “royalty” that was in attendance, the class of the field, in both wingless and the winged sprint cars, was a skinny little 19-year-old kid from Elk Grove, CA named Kyle Larson. He really put on a racing clinic for both the fans as well as his fellow race car drivers!
Larson was able to go to Victory Lane in both the winged and wingless sprint car features Friday night! Not only has he put all the West Coast drivers on notice that he is a factor to be reckoned with, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has put Kyle under contract as their developmental driver! He will drive in the K&N East Series in selected races this year, as well as the full season in the K&N East Series next year for EGR.
For the young skinny kid with a heavy right foot, it was quite a driving performance. In both sprint car divisions Larson gave the fans, and his fellow drivers, a lesson in dirt track racing!
For all the local fans of Tommy Tarlton, he, too, had a very good evening of racing. He was very fast in his heat, and finished third in the A Main behind Kyle Larson, and Jonathon Allard.
Even though a night of racing is a night of racing at many of the country’s dirt tracks, there was one really cool feature that the promoter did that I found was very unusual, and quite interesting. The neatest part of the whole evening was the way that Tulare Thunderbowl ran the dash. Instead of lining up the four fastest qualifiers and the four heat winners in order, they allowed each driver to pick an envelope. That envelope had a number, 1-8, inside of it. Then they allowed each driver to either keep his envelope or trade it with another driver for his envelope! It is a way for a driver to get into a fellow competitor’s head before the race!! Then they ran the dash, and the way they finished the dash is the way that those 8 racers lined up in the first eight spots for the A main!
A really cool touch!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!