The NASCAR Cup Series season may have ended one month ago, but the offseason has been anything but a vacation for Kyle Larson. The California-born driver went back dirt racing on the west coast and quickly became the driver to beat in the Midget scene.
Larson won three straight USAC National Midget races to close out their season, which included the Hangtown 100 at Placerville Speedway, the November Classic at Bakersfield Speedway, and his third Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway. He also added a fourth-straight win soon after, doing it in the Paul Silva-owned No.57 Sprint Car on night one of the Copper Classic at Arizona Speedway.
After racing for Midget kingpin Keith Kunz Motorsports for several years, the two parted ways shortly after the BC39 and Larson started driving his own Midget. Since then, he has been to victory lane in all but one of his Midget starts.
“It’s been good, Paul Silva’s been the one working on it and built a great piece,” Larson told Speed51.com. “We’ve had some good success here with winning some big races but we still got some more to go. Hopefully we can get it done and run good. We’ve got a lot of confidence right now in how the car’s running, so we just got to take advantage of that.”
His busy offseason schedule sees two of the biggest races in all of Midget racing on the docket. Larson will head to St. Louis for next weekend’s Gateway Dirt Nationals for the second year in a row, followed by the famed Chili Bowl Nationals in January.
Larson ran 17th at Gateway in the Saturday finale one year ago after an attempted last-lap pass of Christopher Bell failed. He is excited to get the new car indoors for the first time with the Chili Bowl looming.
“I got to run there last year with Keith (Kunz), but it’ll be the first time indoors with my own car on a small, flat track. It will be some good testing for Chili Bowl,” he said. “I’m excited about getting there next week and racing inside the dome.”
Larson has visited victory lane in the Tulsa Expo Center in Chili Bowl Preliminary Night competition on five separate occasions in his career, but he has yet to claim the Golden Driller on Saturday night. Larson has come close the last two years, but a blown engine while leading and a last lap, last corner pass ended his Chili Bowl hopes and allowed Christopher Bell to win both years. With the recent success he has had, he is looking forward to what the Chili Bowl will bring in just over a month’s time.
“I’ve ran well there for a long time, obviously haven’t won the final show but I’ve done good on my prelim nights and have contended in the last handful of years,” he said. “It would be my first time there in my own car, so I’m not really sure what to expect. We’ve been off to a good start so far, as long as we can keep working hard and getting our stuff even better, hopefully we’ll have a good shot again.”
With indoor season in full swing, the heartbreak of previous Chili Bowls has him motivated to break through for his first Golden Driller.
“Each time I’ve gotten close to winning it and not getting it done, I think it makes it even more special for when you finally do. I don’t know how that feeling will be unless I do it, so hopefully this year is the year I can finally put it all together.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com