(WOMR file photo)
After having spun out and nearly crashed with a clean up truck Saturday night at the Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson scores his first victory in one of NASCAR’s premier touring series. Sunday Larson secured a victory in the Camping World Truck Series at Rockingham.
He was absolutely dead wrong, as he held off a furious late-race charge by Joey Logano to earn the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series of his career in a green-white-checkered finish. Logano, a NASCAR Sprint Cup regular who had much fresher tires on his truck, had to settle for finishing second after spinning his tires on the final restart and permitting Larson to slip away.
“I was pretty nervous on that last restart because Joey was on a lot newer tires than me, and I’m not normally the best on restarts. But I was able to beat him into (Turn 1) and then hold him off for the win,” said Larson, the first Drive for Diversity graduate to reach Victory Lane in one of NASCAR’s three national touring series.
Larson, 20, won in only his fifth career start in the Truck Series and clearly had the fastest truck in the field all day, leading 187 of the race’s 200 laps.
“It’s not often that you get to drive a car that dominant, so I know you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Larson said.
Logano did not make it easy, as saving a set of fresh sticker tires for the end of the race nearly paid off for him. The only Sprint Cup driver in the field, Logano arrived at the track in time to qualify seventh after racing at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night and finishing fifth in the Cup race there. His pit crew dropped the jack prematurely on his first pit stop, costing him track position, but he rallied from there and bided his time until he could get the set of tires he needed to make his run toward the front.
Logano was one of only two drivers whose teams saved a set of sticker tires for the end of the race, with defending series champion James Buescher being the other. Logano actually fell one lap down before the fifth caution came out and afforded him the chance to pit for the fresh tires. He subsequently restarted in 18th and nearly got caught up in a wreck when Todd Bodine spun in front of him, but then began a frenzied, determined charge through the field over the final 20 laps.
It took Logano just six laps to gain 11 spots, and by Lap 193, with seven laps remaining, he was riding in second and right on Larson’s bumper. But after an accident involving Timothy Peters brought out the final caution, Larson beat Logano on the green-white-checkered restart and then held him off for the win.
“I was passing a ton of cars on the newer tires,” Logano said. “That’s Rockingham for you. That’s what makes this race track so cool, because you can play a strategy like that. When we got the last caution, I thought it was playing out perfect for us.
“I just got beat (on the restart). I spun my tires, so it was all my fault. I was so mad at myself. I felt like we should have won this race. We might not have had the truck to win, but we had the strategy to win.”
Larson’s victory put the fire hose on Johnny Sauter’s attempt to be the very first driver in NASCAR history to win the first three races of the season. This is the same Kyle Larson who was involved in that horrendous wreck at Daytona that sheared off the entire front end, forward of the firewall, of his Nationwide car back in February!
As I have said several times before, keep you eyes on this young Elk Grove, CA native. I have watched Larson race non-winged, as well as winged sprint cars in CA, and he is fast, brave, and a possess a raw talent that Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch are all blessed with! Mark my words, sports fans, there are bigger things to come from of Mr. Larson!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!