NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson lost parts and pieces from his No. 1K Outlaw Kart Wednesday night but that didn't stop him from winning the Speed51 Open at Millbridge Speedway. Larson took the lead on Lap 2 of the 51-lap, $5,151-to-win main event and held off a hard-charging Chase Majdic to score his second career victory in the race.
Despite having a fast kart every time he was on the race track, the recent NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race winner needed to battle adversity throughout the night on his way to victory lane. While competing in the pole shuffle earlier in the night, Larson lost the left side upper wing on his kart. After borrowing a wing from another competitor, he rolled off in the fourth position for the main event.
Starting from the outside, Larson ripped around the top side of the race track early to take the lead from polesitter Max McLaughlin two laps in. But the fun wasn't over yet.
During the middle stages of the race, Larson turned up the volume at Millbridge Speedway when he lost the muffler on his kart. That missing muffler didn't impact his performance, as the 2016 Speed51 Open winner drove away through lapped traffic to score one of the biggest victories in Outlaw Kart racing.
"I was really happy with my car when I was driving, but we seemed to have all sorts of gremlins tonight," Larson told Speed51.com. "With the cases on the engine, with the damage I got from the heat, and then the pole shuffle the wing coming apart and then in the feature the pipe coming apart. Everything tonight was trying to take the win away from us, but we were able to overcome it all and get the win.
"I had so many people helping me out tonight from my NASCAR team, even Denny Hamlin was down here helping out. A lot of support tonight and I can't say thanks enough."
While Larson was showing the way up front, Friday night's Cook Out Showdown winner Chase Majdic was working his way through the field after accepting the $25,000 PRC Back Row Bonus. Majdic qualified second through the pole shuffle but elected to race for the bonus when polesitter Max McLaughlin denied the opportunity.
Majdic remained patient early on in the race before hammering the loud pedal in the closing stages, coming within a car length of Larson and $25,000 at the checkered flag.
"It's pretty bitter sweet," Majdic said. "Coming from the back like that you start out and you just have to drive really smart and patient. We got to that break and I think we were up to like seventh or something like that. It was game on from there. I've never driven a go kart as hard as I was out there. We came close, but not quite close enough. Larson did a badass job and congratulations to him."
After finishing second to Majdic Tuesday night, Larson knew he needed to keep hitting his marks as the laps clicked off Wednesday night.
"I could see the 42 (Majdic) get up on the board and he had been fast the last few days," Larson began. "I wasn't really looking at the board the last handful of laps because I felt like I was running a decent pace. I was trying to hit my marks. I saw somebody poke their nose, I didn't know it was him, coming out of three and four. That was really sweet for him to be able to come from the back like that. I've done it that last couple years and just got caught up in some messes. It's just nice to see somebody come from the back and show that they can do it."
For Larson, the win gives him even more momentum as he heads into a busy Memorial Day Weekend. Following his win on Wednesday night, he will compete in World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series events at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Friday and Saturday night, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, and the Memorial Day Classic for the WoO Sprints at Lawrenceburg Speedway (IN) on Monday.
"A first, a second last night and a first tonight. I've got Outlaw races coming up Friday and Saturday, Coke 600 Sunday and Lawerenceburg on Monday. It'd be nice to get some wins," Larson said. "I've been saying it a lot but this is a good time of the year to get some momentum, and even winning a go kart race helps."
Youngster Brent Crews, ARCA Midwest Tour driver Carson Kvapil and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East competitor Max McLaughlin completed the top five.
Race fans who missed Wednesday's thrilling race can now watch a full, on-demand broadcast on Speed51.com by clicking here.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Melissa Strahley
Speed51 Open Unofficial Results
Millbridge Speedway - May 22, 2019