Kyle Larson’s head fell from the weight of disappointment after looking at the small wooden ball for his pill draw.
He drew pill 56, putting him out third to last for qualifying.
Six hours later, he stood atop the wing of Paul Silva’s #57 Sprint Car in World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Victory Lane Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway for the second night in a row – picking up $20,000 in winnings between the two nights.
“Thanks to everyone on this car,” said an elated Larson. “Everybody who has helped me out. It just means a lot to be out here having fun, challenging for wins every night.”
He bested the past two Series champions to the sweep the Brownells Big Guns Bash weekend, beating 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz the first night and reigning champion Brad Sweet the next.
The win was not only the Elk Grove, CA native’s third World of Outlaws win this season – the first time he’s won more than two Series races in a year – but his fifth Sprint Car win in six days. No one and nothing have been able to get in the way of his trophy hunting path.
His pill draw that left him walking away with his head down earlier in the day proved to be a misleading obstacle. Larson qualified second in his Flight and then went on to win the fourth Drydene Heat Race of the night. Larson looked poised early on to back up his dominating performance from Friday.
However, Daryn Pittman stepped up in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash. He took the lead on the first lap and beat Sweet, by two seconds.
When the 30-lap Feature commenced, Pittman made the rest of the field look like they were down a cylinder. He had close to a three second lead by the third lap.
That ended six laps later. While trying to lap David Gravel in Turn 2, Pittman and he touched wheels, spinning each other. Both continued, but never recovered from their starting spots at the back of the field, finishing 18th and 19th, respectively.
Pittman’s misfortune handed the lead to Larson, who only held it for a lap before reigning Knoxville Raceway track champion Brian Brown took it from him on Lap 11. Larson then had to fend off his brother-in-law Sweet to hold second.
“I took a glance at the board on the restart and saw that he (Brown) was right on me,” Larson said. “I knew he was right on me. I knew he was going to run the top in (turns) three and four and thought if I could get a good three and four, he might not slide me the next end. But I didn’t get through there like I needed to, and he got the run and got by me. I knew my car was really good, so I just stayed patient behind him. Then Brad, he got to my inside and I cleared him off of (turn) two, otherwise that could have been the deciding factor of the race.”
Larson’s battle with Sweet showed him there was grip around the bottom of the half-mile track, which led him back to Brown’s bumper.
Larson reclaimed the lead with 17 laps to go. Sweet followed him by Brown for second, setting up the third duel this year between family members. However, Sweet’s Kasey Kahne Racing NAPA Auto Parts #49 couldn’t contend with the Finley Farms #57. Even through lap traffic, Larson maintained about a three second lead of Sweet.
“He (Larson) did a really good job,” Sweet, of Grass Valley, CA, said. “He was driving really hard. He’s a great race car driver. He runs the car on the ragged edge and makes it work and gets by lap cars. We had a great race car tonight compared to last night. A lot of great notes moving forward here. Big gains.”
Sweet’s second-place finish was an improved from his 12th-place run Friday night – the first time he finished outside the top-10 in 2020. With Schatz finishing 11th, Sweet extended his points lead over the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing to a 26-point gap.
Logan Schuchart remains third, 40 points behind Sweet, but also had a needed rebound Saturday night after two straight finishes outside the top-20. He drove his Drydene #1A from eighth to third.
“We had a night without struggles,” Schuchart, of Hanover, PA, said. “We’ll take some notes and see if we can qualify a little bit better. Seems like we have the racing thing down, just need to qualify better to put ourselves in better positions.”
Carson Macedo, who drivers for Kyle Larson’s Sprint Car team, brought his Tarlton & Son #2 home fourth for the second night in a row. His strong runs helped propelled him to fourth in points.
At the end of the day, there was nothing for Larson to hang his head about.
“Another good car,” Larson said. “Just sweet to have five in a row in a Sprint Car now. It feels pretty awesome. In front of a great crowd, too. It makes it feel even better.”
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returns to Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, IN for the Series’ first doubleheader weekend at the track on Fri., June 19 and Sat. June 20. Saturday night’s race will be a historic event for the Series as it will be broadcasted live on CBS Sports Network, starting at 9 p.m. (ET).
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!