Kyle Larson made his first start at Pocono Raceway a memorable one by leading 66 of the 80 laps in Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series event.  In the end, his dominant run was almost derailed on the late restart by the young ARCA regular Mason Mitchell.

Larson's number-4 takes the checkered flag at Pocono. (Speed51.com photo)

Larson’s number-4 takes the checkered flag at Pocono. (Speed51.com photo)

“That was surprising,” said Larson after the race.  “We had a really good car all day and for him to get the jump on me and pull away.  I thought I ran a couple good laps and he still inched away from me, and then we caught a little bit of traffic.  It seemed like it upset him in turn two, and he overdrove the corner a little bit and I was able to get a run on him and get through to the inside of him.”

Mitchell may not have even been a factor if it wasn’t for another issue that held Larson back from running away with the victory.  That break came when, during a round of green flag pit stops, Larson was forced to come back down and serve a pass through penalty for failing to use the blend line to come back on track.  Despite this, Larson had enough of an advantage during a lengthy period without a caution to remain in the lead, but it would put several more contenders back on the lead lap.

Mitchell had his own issues early in the race when he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop when something didn’t seem right in the rear end.  They came in and changed the rear tires and fortunately the problem appeared to be solved.

A caution for debris with twenty laps to go set up another round of pit stops.  The car of Justin Allison did not stop due to the loss of all the gears on his car except fourth.  Allison was slow to get going and Larson did all he could not to beat him to the line on the outside.  This caused the field to fan out and contact to be made in turn one between Matt Tifft and Justin Boston.  Boston, who climbed from the rear of the field after damage on his qualifying lap on Friday, now saw his machine go on the hook after contending for a top five finishing position.

Justin Boston's destroyed race car. (Speed51.com photo)

Justin Boston’s destroyed race car. (Speed51.com photo)

“We all were going down turn one and pretty sure the 52 (Tifft) just did not turn and wrecked us,” Boston told Speed51.com.  “I really got to thank everybody on this team, Venturini Motorsports worked their asses off to get this car back on the track after qualifying.  It’s just really unfortunate that we just tore up a brand new race car.”

On the ensuing restart, Mitchell powered along the outside and ultimately took the advantage leaving the tunnel turn.  Although he ended up on the losing end on Saturday, Mitchell felt racing with Larson was a great opportunity to display his skill.

“I like it when guys like that come down (and race in ARCA),” Mitchell said.  “When we go out there and lead laps and to pass him and give him a run for the money, I think it shows a lot what we can do, and the capabilities of myself and my team.”

John Wes Townley was the top finisher for the Venturini Motorsports group.  He came back from starting in the rear to finish third after losing a lap early to repair damage to the front nose of his car.  Former ARCA Pocono winner Brennan Poole qualified his car on the front row Friday when Townley was occupied by finishing fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.  Despite the good finish, Townley was slightly frustrated that he never had a chance to run with the front two in the end.

“We never did really completely recover,” Townley said.  “At the very start of the race, I guess it was the 43 (Kyle Martel), getting into turn one he just basically stopped.  We came up through the field a little bit, but by then Mason and Kyle started drafting off of each other and they were gone.”

While it may not have helped the effort much for Sunday’s Cup race due to the difference between it and the ARCA car, Larson was glad to get the experience and learn a little especially near the end.

“I was glad I got to work really hard at the end because I learned some things in traffic,” said Larson.

The ARCA Racing Series remains on the speedways for the next race at Michigan International Speedway next weekend, continuing a very busy summer schedule for the series regulars.

Pocono ARCA 200 Official Results
1 4 Kyle Larson 80

2 98 Mason Mitchell 80

3 15 John Wes Townley 80

4 69 Will Kimmel 80

5 88 Justin Allison 80

6 6 Josh Williams 80

7 44 Frank Kimmel 80

8 90 Grant Enfinger 80

9 55 Cody Coughlin 80

10 3 Karl Weber 80

11 23 Spencer Gallagher 80

12 5 Bobby Gerhart 79

13 2 Thomas Praytor 79

14 43 Kyle Martel 78

15 10 Ed Pompa 78

16 77 Tom Hessert 77

17 66 Tom Berte 77

18 86 Nick Igdalsky 75

19 52 Matt Tifft 75

20 34 Darrell Basham 74

21 18 Bill Catania 73

22 25 Justin Boston 65

23 40 Jay Curry 56

24 22 Austin Wayne Self 42

25 7 Brent Cross 33

26 48 Rick Clifton 31

27 06 Steve Fox 19

28 0 Don Thompson 19

29 68 Chris Bailey Jr. 10

30 97 Tim Viens 6

By Aaron Creed – @aaron_creed

Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo

Larson Licks ARCA Field in Pocono Cup Tune-Up