Kyle Larson on the Gateway Dirt Nationals: “The atmosphere is pretty cool and the fans seem pretty rowdy. Which is neat as well.”
This 2018 Gateway Dirt Nationals featured a new class that was absent from the ticket in the first two additions of the indoor dirt race. The dirt midget class brought along the stars of NASCAR.
Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr all unloaded their dirt midgets inside The Dome at Americas Center. The track is a tiny 1/5-mile oval on the floor of a retired NFL stadium.
The stadium in downtown, St. Louis, Missouri has room for growth. The crowd capacity sits at a whopping 67,000. This year, the race broke pre-sale records.
In addition, all the suites were sold out in St. Louis. That’s the first time that’s happened inside the complex since the Rams left the state for Los Angeles in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Chili Bowl is a very similar event. The track is similar in size. Yet, the surface itself couldn’t be more different.
However, they’ve been maxed out on crowd capacity for years. The Tulsa Expo Center would fit into the convention center pit area of the Gateway Dirt Nationals Aside from tv viewers, there’s really no room for growth in that event.
Larson and Bell regularly find themselves at the front of the field for the Chili Bowl Nationals. Things were no different on the bullring oval track in St. Louis. These two raced nose to tail for the race win.
On the final lap, Kyle Larson drove it deeper than he had all weekend in a hail Mary attempt to pass Bell. However, Larson clipped the inside tire barrier with his left front.
That contact sent Larson around in the final corner of the race. A yellow was thrown. As the dropped the green, Bell drove off to win.
Kyle Larson on the Gateway Dirt Nationals
I’d like to hear your thoughts on comparing the Gateway Dirt Nationals to the Chili Bowl Nationals?
“It’s similar but different. Me being an open-wheel guy it’s different because the majority of the fans here are your late model or modified fans,” Kyle Larson explained to RacingNews.co .
“It’s just a new crowd of people that I’ve never seen before. And it’s different racing than I’m used to. But, the atmosphere is pretty cool and the fans seem pretty rowdy. Which is neat as well.”
Do you see it becoming bigger than the Chili Bowl?
“No. I do think it’s going to continue to grow. But, I think it’s going to be hard for anything to ever be bigger than the Chili Bowl.”
“I think it could definitely get up there to be one of the top four or five dirt races in the world.”
“But, to top the Chili Bowl or the Knoxville Nationals, it might be tough. Or even The Dream and things like that.”