ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa.: Kyle Larson had a little bit of an off weekend during the three-race Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal Speedway.
It started with a flip Thursday night that resulted in a banged-up racecar. Larson finished up with finishes of third and fourth the other two nights, but it wasn’t the same sort of dominance he’s displayed in 2020.
So when Larson rolled into Lincoln Speedway Wednesday night, you could sense that the former NASCAR star would be back in form. And he didn’t disappoint.
Larson ended his winless streak at three, leading every lap to capture the 33-lap Weldon Sterner Memorial. It was his 28th victory of the season in 56 starts, which puts his winning percentage right at .500.
“Paul Silva, he builds a great racecar,” said Larson, who banked $6,900. “We crashed one last weekend at Port, and he was able to come out the next night and battle for the win. That shows how good he is and how good he is setting up a racecar, too. We’re fast and contend every single night. You can’t ask for more.
“It’s cool to win a race like this in honor of him [Weldon Sterner]. There are a couple of people in Central Pa. who have built Sprint Car racing into what it is today. It’s been nice to come here a lot this year and win some races in their honor. I’m glad to add another one and look forward to the rest of the week.”
It didn’t hurt Larson’s efforts that he started on the outside pole. He got the jump on pole-sitter Rico Abreu and led the first lap.
Brian Brown brought out the first caution of the event on Lap 3, when he slowed on the frontstretch. Larson owned the restart and led Abreu and T.J. Stutts.
Tuscarora 50 winner Lance Dewease disposed of Stutts for third on the fourth circuit. One lap later, Brian Montieth blew a right front tire and spun in Turn 4 while running in the fifth position.
Larson surged ahead on the restart and caught the back of the field by Lap 10. Abreu was coming in a hurry and closed to within two car-lengths on Lap 11.
Before Abreu could make a move, Larson sliced through three lapped cars. By the time Lap 15 was scored, he held a 2.031-second lead over Abreu, who was left to deal with the charging Dewease.
“The times I have to go to the bottom when you get to traffic, it’s tough,” Larson said. “I feel like a lot of times I have to over-slow trying not to miss the moisture. I’m better off just running the top, but when I have to move around, I feel like the guys who race here a lot are better than I am.
“Dietrich beat me in traffic earlier this year during Speed Week. I tried to make myself better and continue to run harder like he was that night.”
Larson continued to lead by 1.922 seconds on Lap 20, while Dewease was on the low side of Turns 3 and 4 challenging Abreu at the stripe. One lap later, the Fayetteville driver took second in the first and second corner.
Danny Dietrich spun in Turn 1 to bring out another caution on the 24th circuit. It allowed Dewease to close up on the rear nerf bar of Larson and take a shot at the lead entering the first corner.
“When you see the 69 on the board behind you, it makes you a little nervous because he can make speed in other areas than I can,” Larson said. “That made me run really hard and try not to make too many mistakes. My car was good, but track position really helps.”
Dewease never had a chance. Within one lap, Larson showed he was the class of the field by gapping second by 1.753 seconds.
The last caution of the race came on Lap 30 when Ian Madsen spun in Turn 2. Abreu took advantage of the restart and blew around Dewease in the first and second corner.
Abreu had nothing for Larson, who took the win by .746 seconds. Abreu, Dewease, Aaron Reutzel, and Anthony Macri completed the top five.
“It’s good to get a good pill draw, line up on the front row, and get the jump on Rico,” Larson said. “The cautions really worked out for me. We got into heavy lapped traffic, but those last two cautions really helped before I got to traffic.”
The win also made Larson a guaranteed starter in Saturday’s Dirt Classic at Lincoln Speedway. Start time for the $20,000 event is 7 p.m.
410 Sprint Car Feature Finish, 33 Laps: 1. Kyle Larson; 2. Rico Abreu; 3. Lance Dewease; 4. Aaron Reutzel; 5. Anthony Macri; 6. T.J. Stutts; 7. Freddie Rahmer; 8. Kerry Madsen; 9. Brent Marks; 10. Gio Scelzi; 11. Brock Zearfoss; 12. Danny Dietrich; 13. Brandon Rahmer; 14. Tanner Thorson; 15. Chad Trout; 16. Landon Myers; 17. Ian Madsen; 18. Brian Montieth; 19. Alan Krimes; 20. Ryan Smith; 21. Kyle Moody; 22. Glenndon Forsythe; 23. Tim Glatfelter; 24. Brian Brown.
DNQ: Lucas Wolfe, Steve Owings; Billy Dietrich; Chris Arnold; Bradley Howard; Adam Wilt; Aaron Bollinger; Greg Wilson; Dylan Norris; Troy Wagaman; Matt Campbell; Jordan Givler; Kyle Reinhardt; Tim Wagaman; Jimmy Siegel.