Photo by: Paul Trevino
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (November 22, 2019) — Kyle Larson kicked off his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series off-season by doing Kyle Larson things — getting back on the dirt and winning.
The Elk Grove, Calif., native returned to his home state this week to compete in the inaugural Hangtown 100 at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway, a track that’s played a big part in Larson’s career. The 27-year-old overcame early issues in Tuesday’s opener to rebound from a 23rd starting spot to finish fourth. He followed that up with a dominating performance Wednesday night to win the 100-lap feature by over eight-seconds and wrapped up the events point championship. He took home $20,000 for winning the main event and an extra $12,000 for being the event champion.
After early issues in hot laps, Larson went quick time in his group, scheduling him to start eighth in the fifth heat. When the caution came out after completing the opening lap, Larson had already advanced to the third running position. When the heat race got back to racing, he quickly advanced to second and challenged for the lead but parts malfunction brought the Lucas Oil/ iRacing/ Finley Farms No. 1k to a stop and he was unable to complete the heat race.
As a result of the issues in his heat race, Larson started the opening Last Chance Qualifier from the outside of row two. Again, he made quick moves to get to the front and finished second to earn the final transfer spot into the 30-lap feature event.
Larson rolled off for the 30-lap feature event from 23rd and was running 15th when the first caution was displayed. Larson survived four more cautions and was running just inside the top 10 with 10 laps remaining. In the closing laps, the pilot of the KLR 1k survived three more cautions and climbed to a fourth-place finish. As a result of passing 19 cars, Larson earned the KSE Hard Charger award and ended up 10th in overall points heading into Wednesday’s Hangtown 100 finale.
After being the fastest driver in hot laps, Larson rolled off from the seventh starting position in a stacked Heat 4. In an event where every point matters, Larson made quick moves to the front of the field and claimed the top spot with two laps remaining to earn the win and lock himself into third in overall points heading into the feature event.
With a 12-car inversion, Larson started the 100-lap finale from the outside of row five. The first half of the race only saw one early caution allowing the pilot of the Lucas Oil/ iRacing/ Finley Farms No. 1k slice and dice with some of the best midget drivers in the country to work his way through the field. Larson advanced to the runner-up spot on lap 29 and six circuits later, he captured the lead.
The halfway mark of the Hangtown 100, saw an Open Red on the high-banked quarter-mile allowing crews to add fuel and make adjustments to their cars. Once back to green, the field saw three quick cautions before stringing some green-flag racing together where Larson was able to earn a healthy lead on the runner-up driver. The caution was displayed one last time on lap 70, setting Larson up for a 30-lap dash to the finish. In the closing laps, he maintained the lead, lapped up to the ninth position and won the inaugural Hangtown 100 by over eight-seconds.
“Paul put a lot of hard work into this car throughout the last handful of months,” said Larson in Victory Lane. “We ran out here a couple times and the car counts haven’t been big, so I didn’t know how good we were. But I think we proved that we were really, really good, and good in the slick, which was nice. Thanks to Paul Silva and everybody that has helped on this car, Lucas Oil, iRacing, Factory Kahne Shocks, King Chassis. It’s fun to run my own car and win with it. I’m looking forward to these next few races.”
The Kyle Larson Racing No. 1k and Larson will be back in action this Saturday night at Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway for the November Classic.