CONCORD, N.C. — No one wants to see a rainout at the dirt track, but Kyle Larson didn’t mind the showers that briefly delayed time trials of Thursday’s Colossal 100 preliminary.
The open-wheel veteran and current NASCAR Cup Series champ made the most of the favorable track conditions by way of Mother Nature in leading all 30 laps for a $25,000 XR Super Series victory at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
"Thankfully the rain probably helped me out,” the pole-starting Larson said in victory lane after a caution-free main event. “I think being a sprint car guy, I do a little bit better with moisture in the track.”
The racing wunderkind from Elk Grove, Calif., kept his 23 pursuers in check in crossing the finish line 0.741 of a second ahead of fellow front-row starter Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., while Wednesday’s $25,000 Charlotte winner Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., finished third.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., was a distant fourth and Hall of Famer Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., rounded out the top five finishers in the second of four nights of action at the 4/10-mile oval.
The good news for Larson’s foes? NASCAR commitments in Kansas will prevent him from fielding his K&L Rumley Enterprises No. 6 during Saturday’s finale when $50,000 is on the line.
"I wish I could run all weekend,” Larson said, “but tomorrow's my last night. So like I said, hopefully we can get another win and rack up some more money.”
Larson managed just an eighth-place finish in Wednesday’s opener, but he made sure his car was quick every time he was on the track as he topped his qualifying group, won a heat race and led all the way in the feature.
“I felt pretty decent last night, it's just, these Late Model races, the formats are straight up, so you have to be good every time you hit the track. I just didn't qualify well enough last night and was able to qualify quickest in my group tonight,” Larson said. “The track was to my liking tonight and my car felt really good. I was able to kind run the top early. I didn't know how well I felt up there.”
Larson ran unchallenged much of the race, but in the final few laps he lost momentum when he came up quickly on the slower car of Kenny Collins, then struggled with Shane Clanton’s car on the tail end of the lead lap.
“I didn't know how close Brandon was to me,” Larson said. “I felt like I got stuck early in traffic, and then I started picking some cars off decently there and then got really stuck there with, I don't know, five or so laps left. I knew he'd be close and just had to get by some guys quickly.”
Overton, who like Larson struggled in the opener in finishing 11th, was the overall fast qualifier but couldn’t track down the race-long leader.
“I was just hoping he’d screw up, you know?” Overton said. “It is what it is. (The track) is hard to pass on when it's like that, but it's also hard to pass on when it's slick. So we got what we got. Just got to keep working on it. Definitely better than what we did yesterday. So, like I said, we’ll keep digging. It's fun. Everybody in this field can win this race, you know. I don't think people understand how tough it is.
"I honestly thought we were gonna have some cautions, you know, so I kind of got to riding and maintaining. I could see my (spotter) there and we never had (a caution flag), so then we kind of had to gather it up when I seen him in traffic. But he did a heck of a job, man, congrats to him and Rumley and everybody that's a part of that team.”
Madden, the XR Super Series points leader and the first-year tour’s lone multiple-race winner, was a solid third halfway through four nights of Charlotte action.
"I mean we set a torrid pace there and, you know, those guys were really good. We were good. I just think we rode too long,” Madden said. “I was a little concerned about blistering tires at that speed to start with. And I seen it wasn’t going to slow down, and we drove back to ‘em and and I think me and Brandon and Kyle there drove off from the field. We did the best we could do tonight.”
Notes: Kyle Larson notched his second Dirt Late Model victory of the season. He won two weeks earlier in Castrol FloRacing Night in America competition at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. … Thirteen of 24 starters completed 30 laps. … Heat winner Carson Ferguson retired after just three laps. … Among drivers failing to make the feature: Jimmy Owens, Mark Whitener, Trent Ivey, Zack Dohm, Joseph Joiner, Mason Zeigler, David Breazeale, Kyle Bronson, Austin Kirkpatrick, Daulton Wilson and NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Briscoe (fielding fellow Hoosier Kent Robinson’s car).