By Lonnie Wheatley
HANFORD, Cal. (February 12, 2011) – Eighteen-year-old Kyle Larson lived up to his “King of California” moniker by wiring the field in Saturday night’s 30-lap Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters main event at Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway for his first career ASCS triumph.
The Elk Grove, CA, shoe gunned into the lead at the outset on a choppy 3/8-mile clay oval and completed a home-grown driver’s sweep of the inaugural pair of Lucas Oil Sprint Car events in California with an all-Golden State podium that included Wednesday night winner Tim Kaeding and 22nd-starter Tommy Tarlton.
“This is my type of race track, I like it hooked up and rough,” Larson explained in victory lane. “I love racing on tracks like this, because you’ve really got to manhandle it and hustle your way around the ruts.”
Larson did exactly that aboard the JJR/Finley Farms No. 41 Maxim wrenched by 2010 ASCS Lee Maier Crew Chief of the Year Wayne Priddy, jumping into the early lead from the pole position ahead of fellow front row starter Kaeding, who slipped back to seventh in the early circuits.
“I was kinda happy when I didn’t see Tim’s number on the board at the beginning of the race, I knew that would give me some time to settle down and feel out the track and work my way around lapped traffic,” Larson commented.
Larson nearly ran into disaster as well once along the way, biking it through turns one and two before saving it and motoring on. “I could see the track widening out a little bit getting into one, the time I tried it I about wore it out so I never back up there again.”
While Larson was free from Kaeding’s pressure for a while, it was just a matter of time before “TK” found his way back up to second. Back up to fourth by the eighth circuit, Kaeding took third from Tim Crawley on the 14th circuit and then found himself in second when his brother Bud Kaeding flipped after being victimized by the turn four cushion on the 18th lap.
Tim Kaeding had his sights set on the leader but nearly went for a wild ride on the 20th round in the exact same place that bit Bud two laps earlier. “The only difference was I didn’t let off and he did, otherwise I woulda flipped it too.”
Despite a caution one lap later for Willie Croft’s spin off the top of turn four and then one final interruption for a Trey Starks spin in turn two with just five laps to go, San Jose’s Kaeding was no match for Larson’s charge to the checkered flag with a half straightaway advantage. “I could hardly get my breath back after that deal in four, I just kind of gave this one away,” Kaeding explained of the runner-up finish aboard the Roth Motorsports No. 83.
After sneaking into the sixth and final transfer position to the main event after “B” Main front runners Zach Chappell and Logan Forler crashed on the tenth lap, Fresno’s Tommy Tarlton made the most of it by rallying from 22nd to claim the show position in the Tarlton Racing No. 21T.
“It would have been nice to start a little further up front to see if we could have raced with these guys,” a pleased Tarlton commented after the strong drive. “We got there in time to have a shot though, I just kinda lost my rhythm a little bit at the end. I’ll take third.”
Johnny Herrera worked his way forward from 13th to claim fourth in the Herrera/Main No. 45x, while Shane Stewart rebounded from a heat race flip to charge from 23rd to fifth aboard Paul Silva’s Rockstar Energy Drink No. 57 A.R.T. after using a provisional to start the main event.
Washington’s Seth Bergman posted a strong sixth-place run aboard the Petersen Motorsports No. 23, with Crawley slipping to seventh in the closing rounds aboard Mike Ward’s Lucas Oil No. 88.
After flipping in his first career Lucas Oil ASCS main event on Wednesday night at Tulare, Craig Stidham rebounded to race from 16th to eighth at Kings with Jeff Swindell and 19th-starter Brady Bacon completing the top ten. Bacon led seven laps of the night’s opening heat race before suffering rear end woes and then charging from 12th to third in the “B” Main to earn a feature starting slot.
Bud Kaeding, Crawley, Andy Gregg and Bergman topped heat race action for the night’s 32-car field, with Croft making a lap nine move around Zach Chappell to win the “B” Main. A lap after Croft’s winning pass, Chappell and Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Logan Forler tangled on the frontstretch with Forler going for a wild ride. Chappell used a provisional to start the main event, but was an early exit.
After winning the night’s third heat race, Placerville’s Gregg turned over in turn two eleven laps into the feature event.
Making the cut for his first career Lucas Oil ASCS National main event, Cody Lamar was unable to fire the finale and was credited with 24th.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters
Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway – Hanford, CA
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to “B” Main):
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 21-Bud Kaeding, 2. 28-Jeff Swindell, 3. 41-Kyle Larson, 4. 11-Roger Crockett, 5. 0-Zach Chappell, 6. 21a-Randy Price, 7. 99-Brady Bacon, 8. 20-Nicole Miller.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 88-Tim Crawley, 2. 51-Gary Wright, 3. 55-Trey Starks, 4. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 5. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 6. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 7. 57x-Billy Butler, 8. 57-Shane Stewart.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 53-Andy Gregg, 2. 83-Tim Kaeding, 3. 3c-Cody Lamar, 4. 2L-Logan Forler, 5. 94-Steven Tiner, 6. 21T-Tommy Tarlton, 7. 94z-Zach Zimmerly, 8. 24-Justin Carver.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 23-Seth Bergman, 2. 92-Andy Forsberg, 3. 5h-Mason Moore, 4. 3-Craig Stidham, 5. 29-Willie Croft, 6. 14s-Kyle Hirst, 7. 2-Dustin Morgan, 8. 17-Nick McColloch.
“B” Main (Top 6 Advance to “A” Main):
“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 29-Willie Croft, 2. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 94-Steven Tiner, 5. 14s-Kyle Hirst, 6. 21T-Tommy Tarlton, 7. 57-Shane Stewart, 8. 2-Dustin Morgan, 9. 94z-Zach Zimmerly, 10. 24-Justin Carver, 11. 20-Nicole Miller, 12. 57x-Billy Butler, 13. 21a-Randy Price, 14. 17-Nick McColloch, 15. 0-Zach Chappell, 16. 2L-Logan Forler.
Kings Speedway “A” Main:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 41-Kyle Larson, 2. 83-Tim Kaeding, 3. 21T-Tommy Tarlton, 4. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 5. 57-Shane Stewart, 6. 23-Seth Bergman, 7. 88-Tim Crawley, 8. 3-Craig Stidham, 9. 28-Jeff Swindell, 10. 99-Brady Bacon, 11. 11-Roger Crockett, 12. 14s-Kyle Hirst, 13. 94-Steven Tiner, 14. 55-Trey Starks, 15. 5h-Mason Moore, 16. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 17. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 18. 29-Willie Croft, 19. 21-Bud Kaeding, 20. 53-Andy Gregg, 21. 92-Andy Forsberg, 22. 51-Gary Wright, 23. 0-Zach Chappell, 24. 3c-Cody Lamar.
Lap Leaders: Kyle Larson 1-30.
Note: Shane Stewart and Zach Chappell utilized provisionals based upon 2010 final points to start the main event.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Points (Top 15): 1. Tim Kaeding 292, 2. Kyle Larson 280, 3. (tie) Shane Stewart and Tommy Tarlton 260, 5. Roger Crockett 250, 6. Johnny Herrera 243, 7. Seth Bergman 230, 8. Brady Bacon 220, 9. Trey Starks 218, 10. Tim Crawley 217, 11. Bud Kaeding 211, 12. (tie) Gary Wright and Steven Tiner 210, 14. Kyle Hirst 206, 15. Craig Stidham 204.