MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — It had been seven weeks since Kyle Larson last raced a sprint car, but that didn’t matter.
On Friday at Williams Grove Speedway, Larson picked up where he left off in August — in victory lane.
His pursuit of the triple crown sweep, something that’s been done only twice in World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series history, became more of a reality with a preliminary win at the 59th annual Champion Racing Oil National Open.
The Hendrick Cars No. 57 driver already won the Kings Royal in July, the Knoxville Nationals in August, and now eyes his first-career title at the $75,000-to-win National Open. If he can pull off the rare feat, he’ll stand alongside Doug Wolfgang (1985) and Donny Schatz (2007) as the only men in history to achieve the milestone.
However, Larson’s 24th career World of Outlaws win was arguably one of his least convincing in recent memory. The Paul Silva-owned entry had just about everything go right prior to Larson’s fourth-career win at the historic half-mile track.
“We really just caught a lot of breaks all night,” Larson admitted. “Didn’t qualify well, got a little lucky in the heat, and then the cautions fell at the right time in the Feature. Hopefully, we didn’t use up all of our luck before tomorrow. It’s been since Knoxville when I was last in a sprint car, I had to get used to how fast it felt again early in the night.”
After qualifying 14th in Flight A, Larson expected to miss the transfer position in the Drydene Heat Race. Lady Luck soon showed up, though and Larson’s night turned around.
Two different cautions, including one for leader Danny Dietrich, moved the Larson from seventh to second and sent him to the dash. After drawing the No. 1 inversion, he won the dash and earned the pole for the 25-lap feature.
Untouchable in clean air, Larson’s kryptonite was lapped traffic as fellow front-row starter Logan Schuchart reeled him in and battled for the lead each time the backmarkers neared.
Schuchart cleared a turn-one slider on lap 17 and momentarily took the lead, but Larson crossed him back over as they sped under the backstretch bridge.
An all-out war for the top spot was on the brink before the final caution flew and gave the leaders open-air with a handful of laps left.
From there, Larson cruised to a.905-second victory in his fourth World of Outlaws win of the season.
“I started sniffing dirty air, it was getting dusty, hard to see the cushion, and I just got over it,” Larson said. “Logan was good all night, so I wasn’t surprised to see him slide me down there. I knew I just had to make a couple of good decisions to hold the lead.”
It was nearly the perfect storyline for second-place finisher Logan Schuchart.
“I really think we were faster tonight,” Schuchart observed. “We were catching him at the end and got by him at one point, we just needed it to stay green and race through traffic a bit. It feels good to run this well in our hometown, our home race. Hopefully, we found something to go after that $75,000 tomorrow.”
Donny Schatz, the six-time and defending National Open champion, rounded out the podium.
To see full results, turn to the next page.