The Legacy of Kyle Larson Continues to Grow

silver dollar Speedway chico

By Troy Hennig

CHICO, CA – September 30, 2011…Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson added another big win to his resume. The 19-year-old did the unthinkable Friday night at Silver Dollar Speedway. Driving the Stadelhoffer Construction / Kaeding Performance #99x, Larson started the 30-lap main event in the 17th spot. Most fans probably considered it was too far back for anyone to get a win at Chico. However, 20 laps later Larson passed Willie Croft and took the lead. Larson led the final 10 laps and scored the impressive win during night number one of the Fall Nationals. A total of 54 winged 360’s entered the show. “It’s just unbelievable what we have been able to accomplish lately,” said Larson in victory lane. “The track was just about perfect to allow us to come from that deep in the field.”

Andy Gregg won the seven lap dash that earned him the chance to start on the pole position for the 24-car starting feature event. Gregg jumped out to the early lead over fellow outside row starter Rico Abreu. On lap one Willie Croft passed Abreu and was now chasing Gregg for the lead. While the leaders where racing up front, two drivers were marching through the field. Jonathan Allard started 16th and was up inside the top 10 by lap nine. Allard’s charge through the field was only over shadowed by Kyle Larson. Larson began to pass cars at will around the top of the speedway. By lap 10, Larson was up to the fifth spot and it seemed like only a matter of time before he was battling for the lead.

On lap nine the race was halted when Shane Stewart was pinched off the track by a slower car. Stewart had moved around Croft for the second spot before he spun around to a stop. Stewart was able to restart at the rear of the field and come back to finish eighth. The race resumed with Gregg leading. However on the next lap Gregg went into turn three and set the car a little sideways. Second place car Willie Croft had a head of steam and bumped into Gregg’s rear bumper. This sent Gregg’s car into the turn three infield area and Gregg lost many valuable spots. Gregg ultimately would finish back in the 12th spot. Croft was the new leader and held off Abreu for the next five laps.

While the race for the lead was tight most everyone was keeping a watchful eye on Larson. To me Larson was that unstoppable train. Everyone knew he was coming but there was no way to stop him. Larson passed Abreu on lap 16 and then moved around Croft on lap 20. Allard passed Abreu for the third spot and with five to go Allard moved into second. The final four laps were epic as Larson struggled just a bit in slower traffic while Allard was a rocket ship off turn two and dramatically closed in. On the final lap Allard was on Larson tail and as the two drove into turn three, Larson went to the bottom and Allard to the top. Larson had the preferred line and went on to beat Allard by .839 at the finish.

“I have to give it up to Larson,” said Allard. “He’s been the best driver in the country. I thought we had something for him the final few laps but once again he got us and maybe tomorrow we will have something for him.” Willie Croft added, “I am not making any excuses but I lost my brakes about half way through the race and just did my best to hold on to a top three spot. I think we were just as good as the top two if the brakes hadn’t failed.”

Kyle Hirst finished in the fourth spot. Hirst started in the 10th spot and is always competitive at Chico. Justyn Cox had his most impressive run to date at Chico by finishing fifth. Cox was aboard the potent Rod Tiner #83c and the combination was solid.

Andy Forsberg started the night off by turning the quickest lap in qualifying at 12.027. Andy Gregg won the first heat race while Willie Croft picked up the win n heat two. Heat three went to Justyn Cox. Rico Abreu picked up the popular win in heat four. Shane Stewart dominated the fifth heat. Seth Nunes won the C main. Kenny Allen transferred along with Nunes to the B feature. Forsberg won the 12-lap B main event holding off Larson, Hirst and Cody Lamar. All four transferred to the feature event.

Another young gun won the 20-lap wingless sprint car main event. Hollister’s Ryan Bernal is quickly becoming the next up and coming open-wheel sprint car driver in California. Bernal started in the sixth spot but by lap seven he was battling for the lead. On lap nine Bernal passed Austin Liggett. From that point on, Bernal was never seriously challenged for the lead. We have heard a lot about this kid in the Chico area but to be able and witness his speed and car control was exciting. The veteran Terry Schank Jr. finished in the second spot. As usual, Schank was solid and is also impressive to watch in a spec sprint. Liggett impressed all the media in the booth with his solid third place finish. Making his first start at Chico, Liggett led a good majority of the race and didn’t get discouraged when he got passed. Taylor Simas is as good as it gets in the wingless. The Joe Hunt Champion finished in the fourth spot. David Johnson of Stockton rounded out the top five. Matt Streeter came home in the sixth spot after starting in the 13th position. Scott Hall won the B main event.

Travis Peery accomplished something tonight that took him 10 years to do, he won the dirt modified main event. “This feels good,” Perry said in victory lane. “I’ve been coming here so long and have always wanted to win here. It was really good racing tonight and anytime you can beat Papenhausen and Abouzeid at Chico you know you’ve done something good.” Perry took the lead on lap five and went on to lead the final 10 laps. Jeff Olschowka was in the mix all night. Olschowka is always solid in the dirt modified division. He wound up finishing second. Chico’s track champion Mark Abouzeid finished in the third spot. During a couple of the green flag laps, the top three were side by side giving it all they could to get the win. A total of 16 cars started the 15-lap main event. Abouzeid wont he first heat race and Daniel Dozier won the second heat.

Results can be found on