With a broken car, Kyle Larson drove to the World of Outlaws win at I-55 Raceway; Winner notes words of thanks to his fans
On Friday night, Kyle Larson entered Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 for the first time. He circled the track in qualifying at 9.995 seconds. That’s the new track record and the first ever lap in the 9 second bracket.
Larson battled with his brother-in-law for the Friday night victory. He came up short with a 2nd place effort.
On Saturday night, he’d get a reset button. The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series returned to the same track for round two. $20,000 was on the line for the feature win.
Larson finished 4th in the dash and thus started on row two for the main event. He quickly worked his way to 2nd.
With 16 laps to go, Sheldon Haudenschild jumped the cushion in turn one. The race leader barrel rolled across the banking. He brought out the red flag but climbed from his car under his own power.
Larson was handed the race lead. And from there, he was working hard to keep it.
At this track, the leader is working lap traffic on lap five of any green flag run. When Larson caught the lap cars, he was aggressive, multiple times.
On one occasion he squeezed between the lap car and the outside wall as they crossed the start/finish line. There was hardly enough room for it. But, Larson wasn’t going to be stopped.
The driver held off charges from Brent Marks and Brad Sweet. Larson returned to victory lane, collecting the $20,000 check and he brought down the house in Pevely, Missouri along with it.
This win comes at a crucial time in Larson’s racing career.
Back in mid-April, Larson used the n-word during an online race. He was attempting to reach his spotter on a private iRacing audio channel.
However, the audio was instead sent to the public channel. 60+ drivers and thousands of fans tuned in from their living room’s during various stay-at-home order’s.
Larson was trending on twitter within an hour. By the next day, he was suspended by his team and NASCAR. A day later, sponsors abandoned him and Chip Ganassi Racing was forced to fire the 28-year-old star.
Larson’s NASCAR suspension remains in place. However, the World of Outlaws elected not to suspend him. They only required Larson to attend a sensitivity class, which he did.
He took full ownership of the his once co-owned dirt sprint car team back in late 2017. With the class completed, he jumped behind the wheel of his own No. 57 ride, in early May at Knoxville Raceway.
With no NASCAR contracts on the table, the driver appears to be in a transitional and rebuilding period. He could be a full-time WoO driver at this point. And if so, a strong threat for a championship.
A limited number of fans were on hand at I-55 Raceway due to social distancing measures that were put into place by the state. But, the fans were still loud enough to show support for the driver that has been destroyed for the sake of entertainment.
Larson is appreciative of those that have stuck with him.
Kyle Larson on his win; Thanks fans
“It feels really cool,” Kyle Larson said from behind his COVID mask in victory lane.
“I’ve always wanted to race here at Pevely. It definitely didn’t disappoint. This place is great.”
Fans screamed in support of Larson applauding their home track.
“All the track prep, I was worried. But, it turned out to be a great race track.”
“I can’t thank all you fans enough. For the support, over the last handful of weeks here. It really means a lot.”
“Everybody who’s on this car, Tarlton and Son, Finley Farms, Lucas Oil, Durst, Priority Aviation, my family, my friends… Everybody, this wins means so much personally. I can’t even describe it.”
Larson broke the car early in the race; Still drove to the win
“I knocked the Jacobs Ladder out, about lap 12. It made it a lot harder. I was extremely tight. But, I felt good before I got in the wall.”
“It took me a couple laps to get used to it. I finally just started running the crap out of it. Wide open was the only way I could keep it from bouncing.”
“I actually thought I was better than Sheldon, before I got in the wall. Once I figured out how to drive it, with no Jacobs Ladder, I still felt like I was better than him.”
“It was unfortunate to see him get in the wall. I think it was going to be a great race. It always is, with two aggressive drivers.”
“I felt like I could have beat him heads-up. So, that was a big confidence booster for me.”
“Paul Silva (crew chief), he’s been working his tail off. Every since we started the year at Volusia, we’ve struggled. He’s worked hard this week and got it better. I felt great.”
“I could finally get down the straight-aways and could finally get grip into the corner and off. So, I don’t think I could have been much better. Other than, not making a mistake on my part and hurting the car.”
“I was really worried about traffic. We got that RED when Sheldon wrecked. It put me in the lead.”
“Without the Jacobs Ladder, I was so tight. It got to traffic and my pace would slow down. Then, I’d get even tighter. I knew I needed cautions. They really fell at the right time for me.”
“Everything kinda fell in my lap tonight. But, we had a good car to go along with it.”
“I can’t thank each and every one of you enough. All of my supporters, it means a lot.”
“I can’t wait to get my journey started and kinda see where my future goes from here,” Larson concluded from victory lane.