(WOMR file photo)
The 2012 Gold Cup Race of Champions started out on Wednesday with two divisions of racing. First up on the schedule was the wingless USAC WesternClassic sprint cars racing a 20 lap main event, followed by the 360 winged sprinter racing in the Civil War event.
Wednesday night really should have been titled “The Kyle Larson Driving Clinic”!
“We better enjoy this kid while we can because pretty soon we will all be watching him on Sunday’s,” said second place finisher Andy Forsberg. Of course Forsberg was referring to Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson. Larson put on quite a show for the fans at Silver Dollar Speedway tonight. The defending Gold Cup Champion won both the USAC Western Classic Racing Series and Civil War main events tonight. “I had two good cars tonight,” said Larson. “I have to thank both the Ford family and the Finley family for giving me the chance to race tonight.” Larson added, “The bottom of the track was good tonight and I just kept trying to hit my marks. I mean I missed the line a few times but all in all I kept it stuck in there pretty well.” Forsberg was the bridesmaid in both features tonight. “The big problem I had tonight is that Kyle Larson’s too good and I’m not,” said Forsberg when asked about his runner-up finishes. Sacramento’s Kyle Hirst finished third in the Civil War main event. “I tried the top on the last few laps and just ran out of time,” said Hirst. “I can’t thank Rod Tiner enough for letting me drive his car.”
Larson started on the pole position for the 19-car wingless USAC A feature. The race was originally scheduled for 30 laps but cut to 20 due to five yellow flags and three red-flag stoppages for rollovers. Larson would eventually lead every lap of the shortened race. Forsberg did his best to keep up with the talented driver from Elk Grove but was never able to get close enough to make a pass. Shauna Hogg of Citrus Heights’ really impressed us tonight. She avoided all the big wrecks and was able to hang right outside the top two. Hogg finished in the third spot. Tony Hunt rebounded from an earlier spin to come back and finish fourth. Both Hogg and Hunt are regulars on the circuit and both were very impressive tonight. Ninth place starting Mark Tabor Jr. raced his way into a fifth place finish.
Terry Schank Jr. took a nasty ride off turn four after he and Matt Streeter made contact. Schank walked away but the car was badly damaged. Schank did win the first heat race he entered tonight. He also set the fastest lap in qualifying. Kyle Hirst won the second heat while Larson won the third heat. Schank fast lap in qualifying was a 14.409.
Andy Forsberg jumped out to the early lead during the 22-car starting field, 30-lap main event. Kyle Hirst fell into the second spot while Larson ran third. Lap nine saw Larson ease his way around Hirst for second. On a lap 10 restart, Larson got around Forsberg for the lead. Larson went on to battle his way around slower cars and try to keep Forsberg behind him.
The top three raced evenly for the next few laps. Larson was quicker than the two cars behind him but the slower traffic was giving him fits. At one point Forsberg moved to within a car length of Larson for the lead. Hirst caught up to Forsberg and on the last lap made strides to try to steal a second place finish at the line. Rico Abreu continues to make a lot of fans happy. He was really quick on most restarts. Abreu would use the high line to pass cars going into turn one. Abreu wound up with a fourth place finish. Fast time qualifier Herman Klein rounded out the top five. Klein had to come through tonight’s B main event to secure a starting spot in the feature. Klein turned a 12.881 in qualifying.
Cole Wood won the first heat race of the night. John Michael Bunch provided a nice spark to win the second heat race. Colby Wiez won the third heat race with ease. Jimmy Trulli dominated the fourth heat race.
After watching Kyle Larson race for the last two years, there is no doubt that Andy Forsbergs analysis of the talent of the young Larson’s driving abilities is spot on! It will only be a few short years before we start to see Kyle Larson racing with the legends in NASCAR on Sunday afternoons!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!