DODGE CITY, Kan. (May 4, 2012) – Kyle Larson emerged from a heated early-race battle and then survived a late charge teammate Bryan Clauson and then Brad Kuhn to win Friday night’s 30-lap USAC Mopar National Midget feature event atop the 3/8-mile Dodge City Raceway Park clay oval.
While Larson was victorious on the opening night of the two-night Boot Hill stand, other picking up wins including Brendon Gemmill in the IMCA Modifieds, Bart Baker in the United Wireless IMCA Sport Modifieds and Dan Rogers in the Poor Boy Kustomz Thunder Cars.
With Larson starting third in the Midget feature, Mario Clouser and Levi Jones led the way to the green flag after original front row outside starter Bobby East tagged the tail of the field. Defending Gold Crown Midget Nationals champion Jones of Olney, IL, gunned into the lead at the outset with third-starter Larson immediately moving into second.
Larson was already challenging Jones for the lead when the race’s first caution flew on the third round for a five-car melee in turn that sent Rico Abreu, Jerry Coons, Jr. and Dalton Armstrong pitside. Tony Rossi and Chris Windom rejoined the action.
Action heated up on the restart, with Jones, Larson and Darren Hagen trading sliders in a wild three-way battle for the lead. Larson ultimately got the edge on the 7th round and left Jones and Hagen to battle with the likes of Bryan Clauson and Levi Roberts.
“That was wild early, it was a lot of fun,” Larson commented afterward. “I just wanted to get out front, I knew if Hagen got out front he’d be tough to catch.”
Larson’s Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate Clauson took command of second by the midway point as Hagen’s powerplant began to sour and then closed in on the Elk Grove, CA, shoe in the race for the lead.
After a quick red flag for Rossi, who got upside down in turn three with just eight laps to go, another pair of cautions livened things up as 14th-starter Kuhn entered the mix and was on Larson’s tailtank on the final restart with four laps to go.
Larson proved untouchable though, racing on to the checkered flag aboard the Toyota-powered Bullet chassis. Kuhn settled for runner-up honors in the Fontana-powered RW Motorsports No. 27 Beast.
Defending series champion Clauson settled for the show position in the No. 67 Toyota-powered Bullet, with Windom bouncing back from the early tangle to take fourth in the Wilke-Pak Toyota-powered No. 11 Spike after apparent fourth-place finisher Levi Roberts came up light at the scales.
Jones rounded out the top five in the Esslinger-powered Three Wide Networks No. 56 Beast, with Patrick Stasa climbing from 19th to sixth. Davey Ray raced from 17th to seventh, with Caleb Armstrong, Clouser and Garrett Hood completing the top ten.
Levi Roberts kicked the night off by establishing a quick time of 16.081 seconds in qualifying over the 26-car field, with Windom, Clauson, Ray and Coons, Jr., winning the heat races.
Brady Bacon lost an engine in qualifying and after scratching from his heat race, advanced from 18th to fifth before exiting after the lap 22 restart. East rallied from the tail into the top five as well before running out of fuel less than a handful of laps shy of the checkered flag.
Jeff Stasa’s night ended before it started when steering failure sent his machine into the third turn wall in the initial hot lap session. Clint Schubert’s weekend also came to an early end when he detonated an engine in qualifying.
In the IMCA Modifieds, Brendon Gemmill took advantage of a lap six restart to break back into victory lane. Gemmill took the lead away from Joel Lane en route to taking the checkered flag ahead of Mike Martin, Danny Keller, Cody Gearhart and Kevin Gray.
Bart Baker raced around Dale Wanger on the eighth round of the 12-lap United Wireless IMCA Sport Mod main event before taking the checkered flag ahead of defending track champion Clay Sellard, Wanger, Toby Witthuhn and Mike Appel.
After surrendering the lead late in the season opening Poor Boy Kustomz Thunder Car main event, Dan Rogers took over early and held on all the way to win the night’s 15-lap feature over Reagan Sellard, Dustin Walker, Jakob Mankle and Dustin Carr.
Racing action continues at Dodge City Raceway Park on Saturday night with another full card of USAC Mopar National Midgets, IMCA Modifieds, United Wireless IMCA Sport Modifieds and IMCA Stock Cars.
Dodge City Raceway Park Results (May 4, 2012):
USAC Mopar National Midgets:
Qualifying: 1. Levi Roberts, Tucker/BCI 39 16.081, 2. Darren Hagen, RFMS 3, 16.095, 3. Levi Jones, 5ive-6ix Inc. 56, 16.099, 4. Kyle Larson, Kunz 71, 16.222, 5. Rico Abreu, Kunz 67k, 16.238, 6. Bobby East, Klatt 4, 16.313, 7. Tony Rossi, Rossi 14, 16.314, 8. Mario Clouser, RW 27, 16.320, 9. Chris Windom, Wilke-Pak 11w, 16.325, 10. Dave Darland, Dooling 63, 16.367, 11. Chris Deshon, Faith Motorsports 51, 16.378, 12. Jerry Coons, Jr., DL Motorsports 3nz, 16.390, 13. Caleb Armstrong, C&A 7c, 16.433, 14. Bryan Clauson, Kunz 67, 16.438, 15. Dalton Armstrong, C&A 7a, 16.446, 16. Brad Kuhn, RW 17, 16.519, 17. Zach Daum, Daum 5d, 16.519, 18. C.J. Johnson, Johnson 45x, 16.538, 19. Davey Ray, Ray Pro 33, 16.609, 20. Brady Bacon, Wilke-Pak 11, 16.665, 21. Patrick Stasa, SBR 19, 16.746, 22. Garrett Hood, Two Hoods 11h, 16.933, 23. Riley Emmel, Ray 12, 17.366, 24. Randy Boyer, Boyer 69, 18.382, 25. 44-Clint Schubert, Schubert 44, 18.589, 26. Jeff Stasa, SBR 91, NT.
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 11w-Chris Windom, 2. 39-Levi Roberts, 3. 7c-Caleb Armstrong, 4. 19-Patrick Stasa, 5. 67k-Rico Abreu, 6. 5d-Zach Daum. DNS: 44-Clint Schubert.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 67-Bryan Clauson, 2. 45x-C.J. Johnson, 3. 4-Bobby East, 4. 3-Darren Hagen, 5. 63-Dave Darland, 6. 11h-Garrett Hood. DNS: 91-Jeff Stasa
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 33-Davey Ray, 2. 7a-Dalton Armstrong, 3. 56-Levi Jones, 4. 51-Chris Deshon, 5. 14-Tony Rossi, 6. 12-Riley Emmel.
Fourth Heat (8 Laps): 1. 3nz-Jerry Coons, Jr., 2. 17-Brad Kuhn, 3. 71-Kyle Larson, 4. 27-Mario Clouser, 5. 69-Randy Boyer. DNS: 11-Brady Bacon.
“A” Feature (20 Laps): 1. 71-Kyle Larson (3), 2. Brad Kuhn (14), 3. 67-Bryan Clauson (12), 4. 11w-Chris Windom (9), 5. 56-Levi Jones (2), 6. 19-Patrick Stasa (19), 7. 33-Davey Ray (17), 8. 7c-Caleb Armstrong (13), 9. 27-Mario Clouser (1), 10. 11h-Garrett Hood (22), 11. 3-Darren Hagen (5), 12. 51-Chris Deshon (11), 13. 4-Bobby East (24), 14. 5d-Zach Daum (22), 15. 45x-C.J. Johnson (16), 16. 11-Brady Bacon (18), 17. 69-Randy Boyer (23), 18. 14-Tony Rossi (6), 19. 12-Riley Emmel (21), 20. 63-Dave Darland (8), 21. 67k-Rico Abreu (7), 22. 3nz-Jerry Coons, Jr. (10), 23. 7a-Dalton Armstrong (15), 24. 39-Levi Roberts (4). Note: Levi Roberts disqualified for failing to meet minimum weight after taking the checkered flag in fourth.