From Gary Thomas, image courtesy of Shane Muir
Tulare, CA – October 27, 2010…Fresh off the biggest sprint car win of his career the previous week in Hanford, current King of California Kyle Larson was able to fight through tough luck on opening night at the annual Trophy Cup and ended the weekend in a tie for fifth in the final event standings.
Larson’s Trophy Cup finish was helped by a runner up effort during Saturday’s feature, with the end result being very similar to his outing at last year’s event, where he also tallied a podium in Saturday’s finale and scored fifth in the standings at the conclusion of the weekend.
The 17th annual Southwest Contractors Trophy Cup presented by Kaeding Performance went green this past Friday at the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway and Larson started it off by qualifying 22nd fastest overall out of 75-cars. He then lined up in the second row of his heat race and a fourth place finish in it missed a transfer by one spot, which put the Stadelhofer Construction/ Peppermill Resort-Spa-Casino-Reno No. 99 machine into the b-main.
A very loaded semi was seen on this night and Larson quickly picked his way forward at the drop of the green flag from the 11th starting spot. The Elk Grove driver found the top of the 1/3 mile clay oval to his liking and blasted to the lead in just six-laps and held on the rest of the way to transfer out. Going from 17th on the grid in the feature Larson picked back up right where he left off in the b-main by carving his way to the front.
With earning points being the most important part of Trophy Cup each position gained becomes much more beneficial than during a typical weekly event. After the less than hoped for qualifying time at the beginning of the night, Larson looked to make up ground in the points and was on way to doing that, as he charged through the field. He had made it all the way up to the top-five when mechanical problems forced him to the infield with just nine-laps left and resulted in a 24th place finish.
Coming back on Saturday sitting 24th in the overall Trophy Cup standings Larson kicked off the evening by continuing to pass cars and picked up a victory from the third row in his heat race aboard the Kaeding Performance No. 99 Maxim. The heat victory moved the 18-year-old up to 18th in the Trophy Cup standings and with the A-main being totally inverted based on points it put him in the fourth row for the long 50-lap main event.
Keeping up the trend for the weekend Larson began moving to the front af the waving of the green flag and sliced to third after a handful of laps, before getting past New Mexico driver Johnny Herrera for second on lap-six. The young gun then closed in on the top-spot and took advantage when leader Steven Tiner caught the wall and would move to the front with nine-circuits complete. Soon after that San Jose’s Tim Kaeding charged to second from the 19th starting spot and it set up a classic battle up front.
Like a number of times in Northern California this year Larson and “TK” kept fans on the edge of their seats, fighting it out for the lead of the race while navigating through lapped traffic. When a mandatory red flag came out on lap-34 Larson continued to lead Kaeding and when things went back green they would immediately resume their battle for the top-spot. With Larson trying everything to maintain the lead through slower traffic Kaeding got the chance he needed on lap 43 and took the lead down the back stretch.
“TK” looked to pull away, but Larson didn’t let that happen and remained close to the rear bumper of the Roth No. 83 sprinter. When the white flag waved, heavy traffic appeared ahead of Kaeding and Larson looked to take advantage. Entering turn three for the final time Larson gave it one last charge to the inside and executed a thrilling slide job, but Kaeding was able to cut back to the bottom and force the 18-year-old to settle for second at the finish.
When the points were tallied Larson finished in a tie for fifth in the standings with Tommy Tarlton, but with the higher qualified driver from Friday winning the tie breaker, Larson was officially placed sixth in the final outcome. Finishing first through fourth in the Trophy Cup points ahead of Tarlton and Larson were winner Jonathan Allard, Tim Kaeding, Roger Crockett and Lucas Oil ASCS National point leader Jason Johnson.
Larson will now set his sights on this weekend’s 23rd annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals at the I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Lucas Oil ASCS National event will pay $15,000 to win Saturday’s 40-lap finale and currently has over 120-entries for the three-day show. For the event Larson will be driving the Casey Minks owned Western Dedicated, Shark Racing Engines, Santamauro Race Products, Kwik Carwash No. 75L mount.
Last season saw Larson make his Short Track Nationals debut driving for the late-great Jesee Hockett and had charged from dead-last to 11th on his prelim night, until tipping over in the final corner of the feature. Engine gremlins then cut his night short in hot laps during the Saturday finale and the Californian looks forward to getting another opportunity at the prestigious event.
“I’m really excited and thankful for the chance to go back for the Short Track Nationals again, because I had a lot of fun last year and ran pretty well,” said Larson. “Little Rock is a great track and was nice and racy last season so hopefully it’s the same this year. It should be a fun challenge with so many good cars this weekend and I can’t wait to hit the track for our preliminary night.”
Larson’s racing efforts are sponsored by Stadelhofer Construction, The Peppermill ~ Resort ~ Spa ~ Casino ~ Reno, Kaeding Performance, Safety Solutions, Simpson Race Products, JW Web Design, Abreu Vineyards and All Star Performance.
For more information and news on 18-year-old Kyle Larson log onto http://www.kylelarsonracing.com