Kyle Larson seemed somewhat surprised at his margin of victory Saturday night at Cocopah Speedway, where he powered to his first victory of the new year during Round 2 of the 2nd annual Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown.
“I was checked out?” he asked a crew member prior to the Victory Lane celebration at the offseason’s premier 410 winged sprint car event in the United States.
Larson, who was driving the Paul Silva owned and wrenched Plan B Sales.com #57 sprinter, showed the field the fast way around the track Saturday night. Young Money lapped everyone up to 14th place, and he won by more than five seconds on the semi-banked, 3/8-mile oval to score the $12,000 winner’s share. It also made him the first repeat winner during seven Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown main events.
“I had a lot of fun,” he said. “You had to be really aggressive, but then you also had to be careful, too. To run the top you had to be aggressive, keep your wheel spin up so you wouldn’t get sucked into the cushion like I did a couple of times. It was a tricky race track. It made it a lot of fun.”
Larson, who scored the second most points during the heats and qualifier races started the 30-lap feature on the outside of the front row. Larson inherited the lead when polesitter Greg Hodnett spun in turn two on Lap 8. From that point the race was all Larson, who pulled away from the field following restarts on Lap 9 and Lap 11 en route to the triumph.
“The cushion got bigger and bigger throughout the race and got trickier to run and (I) kind of had to run off of it a little bit when I caught traffic,” he said. “I made a lot of mistakes actually, but I think I had a big enough lead I could stay somewhat comfortable.”
(The cushion on the exit of turn four appeared to be about 12-14 tall at the end of the race!)
Shane Stewart, who pilots a sprint car for Larson and Justin Marks with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, advanced from sixth to second place in his Larson-Marks Racing #2 sprinter.
“Obviously a great night for LMR,” he said. “It was really cool to see Kyle come out here and race. The kid is just really, really good. Every time he jumps into a sprint car he proves it. He just makes it look so easy. This was his type of track, slick to a big curb.
“I needed to be a little tighter. We got a little free there toward the end. I had to be really cautious when I got to lapped traffic. At one point I actually thought I could see him, but, hell, it was another white car. He checked out on me pretty good.”
Danny “The Dude” Lasoski, who is the defending champion of the event, used a late rally by running in the middle of the track to round out the podium after he dropped outside the top 10 in the early laps.
“You have to go as fast the last 10 (laps) as you do the first 20,” he said. “When you’re racing this kind of race track you have to go where they’re not. Our car seemed to work pretty good in the middle as long as I two-footed it.”
Friday’s feature winner, Dale Blaney, finished fourth with The Ragin’ Cajun , Jason Johnson, placing fifth.
Joey Saldana rallied from 14th to sixth place to earn the Hard Charger Award with Christopher Bell, D.J. Netto, (TMac) Terry McCarl and Daryn Pittman rounding out the top 10, respectively.
Craig Dollansky, Larson, Willie Croft, Netto and Hodnett won heat races with Jason Solwold, Bell, Hodnett, Pittman and McCarl claiming qualifiers. Sam Hafertepe Jr. and The Rocket, Roger Crockett, picked up B Main victories.
Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown action resumes on Tuesday with Opening Ceremonies scheduled to begin at approximately 7 p.m. (Mountain). It will be the final Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown race for Larson, who is spending next weekend in Florida testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. However, fellow NASCAR star Kasey Kahne, as well as USAC sprint car and former Chili Bowl winner, Bryan Clauson are expected to arrive at Cocopah Speedway on Tuesday to drive in the final three Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown features following their recent racing trips to Australia and New Zealand, respectively.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!