Larson Is Last Man
Kyle Larson in victory lane after Wednesday night's Stoops Pursuit. (IMS photo)

Larson Is Last Man Standing In Stoops Pursuit

INDIANAPOLIS – Kyle Larson was, quite literally, the last man standing during Wednesday night’s 25-lap Stoops Pursuit at The Dirt Track at IMS, as the second annual Driven2SaveLives BC39 powered by NOS Energy Drink officially got underway.

Larson was one of three drivers who remained in contention during the final segment of the unique, Australian-style pursuit event which eliminated drivers as they crashed out or were passed on track.

He, Michael Pickens and Justin Grant were all racing tightly together on the last lap of the five-lap sprint to the finish when Pickens dove underneath Larson entering turn three and ramped over Larson’s left-front tire with the right-rear wheel of his No. 1nz.

The contact sent Pickens several feet in the air as he flipped wildly, while Larson went into a 360-degree spin as he wrestled to regain control of his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports No. 97.

While all of that happened down low, Grant went to the cushion in an attempt to rocket around the outside of both crashing cars below him, but tagged the outside wall with his right-rear tire and ended up flipping in his own right.

That left Larson, who kept his car under power as he got pointed back in the right direction, alone to sneak through the fourth corner and to the red and checkered flags as the winner – the only one of 25 cars that ultimately made it to the finish line and completed the entire distance of the Stoops Pursuit.

It was a finish that evoked memories of both the 1976 Daytona 500 finish between Richard Petty and David Pearson at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway and the 1985 “spin-and-win” performed by Danny Sullivan at IMS during the 69th running of the Indianapolis 500.

As he climbed from his wounded race car in victory lane, Larson was all smiles.

Kyle Larson takes the red and checkered flags to win Wednesday night’s Stoops Pursuit at The Dirt Track at IMS. (Rich Forman photo)

“That was wild,” Larson exclaimed. “I didn’t know it was going to be that crazy of a race. On the second to last stage, Justin (Grant) got by and then (Jason) McDougal got by, and I knew I needed to get back to second to be able to run that last round.

“I was really good up top,” Larson continued. “I knew if I got a good restart, I could get by Pickens, but this track was so racy that sliders were easy to throw. Michael (Pickens) was throwing everything he had at me. We made contact there on the backstretch. He was trying to park it on the bottom, and I was trying to do what I did the lap before or two laps before (in order to hold him off).

“I didn’t know it was going to be that crazy of a race, but for an odd format like that, it was a ton of fun.”

The seventh-starting Larson won $2,100 for his efforts, with the $1,500 winner’s share boosted by $100 for each car that the Elk Grove, Calif., native passed during the Stoops Pursuit main event.

With scoring for the two crashed combatants on the final lap going back to the last completed lap, Pickens was credited with second place and Grant was scored third in the final finishing order.

Tyler Courtney and Jason McDougal, who were both eliminated during the final segment break at the conclusion of lap 20, completed the top five.

Polesitter Jesse Colwell never led a lap of the event, passed by Chad Boat in the first corner and eliminated at the lap-five cutoff despite running second at that time. He finished 14th.

Defending Stoops Pursuit champion Zeb Wise made the return visit by winning his heat race, but was mired in traffic after starting 13th and also got eliminated at the end of the first five-lap segment.

Wise was credited with 18th in the official results.

The finish:

1. Kyle Larson (7), 2. Michael Pickens (3), 3. Justin Grant (12), 4. Tyler Courtney (17), 5. Jason McDougal (15), 6. Tanner Carrick (11), 7. Chris Windom (18), 8. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (16), 9. Chad Boat (2), 10. 19 Spencer Bayston (4), 11. 67 Logan Seavey (5), 12. Zach Daum (14), 13. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (19), 14. Jesse Colwell (1), 15. Gio Scelzi (10), 16. Jake Neuman (6), 17. Dillon Welch (9), 18. Zeb Wise (13), 19. Brady Bacon (20), 20. Christopher Bell (25), 21. Robert Dalby (24), 22. Kyle O’Gara (21), 23. Jerry Coons, Jr. (23), 24. Thomas Meseraull (8), 25. Chase Briscoe (22).

Lap Leader(s): Chad Boat 1-5, Michael Pickens 6-20, Kyle Larson 21-22, Pickens 23, Larson 24-25.

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