By T.J. Buffenbarger
(July 17 2021) — After witnessing two, $175,000 to win races Saturday at Eldora Speedway filled with all kinds of twists and turns that intertwined the 37th and 38th editions of the Kings Royal, here are my takeaways from the event.
• The All Star Circuit of Champions has been one of the most intriguing sprint car series in the country over the past couple of seasons. This season has been interesting to watch with several talented drivers coming in as three-time champion Aaron Reutzel departed for a full time World of Outlaws gig.
Saturday was one of the strongest showings by the All Stars at the Kings Royal. Courtney winning the Royal combined with Bill Balog’s top five got things rolling during the daytime program. Spencer Bayston, who got things rolling at Attica Raceway Park wining the Brad Doty Classic, was sniffing around the front of the pack all weekend during the features and scored top 10’s during features.
The All Stars have ben putting on a highly entertaining product all season, but their showing at the Kings Royal shows their best are capable of winning night in and night out.
• Tyler Courtney showed tremendous promise in winged sprint car racing based on his All Star performance this year, but Courtney launched himself into rare air on Saturday afternoon with his Kings Royal victory.
Looking back Courtney deserved more attention going into that event as a favorite always being a threat to win at Eldora in non-wing action, having extensive daytime racing experience with the USAC Silver Crown series, and is good in a winged sprint car. That combination was perfect for the conditions on Saturday afternoon.
Coutney backed up the daytime victory by wining his heat race and starting on the pole position of the night program, scoring a top five finish.
The crazy thing is I feel Courtney is still a long way from his ceiling on how good he could be in a winged sprint car. Courtney has admitted all season he has a lot yet to learn. Based on the performance this weekend that could be bad news for the rest of the competition.
• Just when I feel like the bottom of the bucket has been reached for superlatives to describe Kyle Larson and Paul Silva’s performances, he manages to find some other way to impress me. Larson’s week of racing leading into the Kings Royal was far from perfect. After issues all week including a flip during the daytime program at Eldora, Silva and Larson worked their magic with a race car that was far from perfect.
The three wide move to take the lead at the Kings Royal will likely be remembered as one of the great moments in the event’s history.
Once again Larson left me astounded at his ability to recall what he does in the race car with such detail. I mentioned on Twitter that I typically am not a reporter that asks a driver to describe something for me as a question, but I do with Larson because his description of what he does in the race cars astounds me as much as his actual driving performances sometimes.
• Eldora Speedway and World Racing Group officials need to be commended for such an amazing day of racing after very trying circumstances. One would be hard pressed to find a more entertaining pair of programs that we witnessed on Saturday.
The daytime program was about as entertaining as one could hope for with a race that took rubber while the nighttime program might go down as one of the most entertaining features in the 38 year history of the Kings Royal.
Looking ahead to 2022 with the return of the Historical Big One as part of the weekend the Thursday before the Kings Royal just adds to the anticipation of waiting one year until next year’s event.