Eriksson (center). Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull GRC: Oliver Eriksson building off GRC Lites title defense

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – The plan was never for Oliver Eriksson, the talented 17-year-old Swede in the No. 16 Olsbergs MSE X Forces GRC Lites entry, to win the GRC Lites championship in his first attempt at it.

But since he did, and since he’s still only 17, he’s become an even more well-rounded driver in his second season in the second division of Red Bull Global Rallycross.

Eriksson, who was on par with fellow teenaged talented teammate Austin Cindric last year, has now somewhat stepped up into a team leader role at OMSE’s GRC Lites program with rookie teammates Miki Weckstrom and Cole Keatts developing every week.

As Eriksson explained, the development has come naturally into his second season.

“The key this year was to be more consistent and make less mistakes. And keep my car in one piece,” the youngest son of OMSE team principal Andreas Eriksson told NBC Sports.

“I had some problems in Phoenix. But I’ve now learned to be directly fast in first practice. Now I’m faster to start. So that forces me to keep going and be more consistent.

“They try to learn a lot from me but I have a bit to learn from them, too. It’s a big responsibility, but I don’t feel any pressure.”

Eriksson said this second season in GRC Lites will serve as better preparation for any potential Supercars bow.

There aren’t any true rookies in Supercars this year, as there were last year when Sebastian Eriksson – not related – stepped up to OMSE’s Supercars program. Last year it was a Ford program but now it’s the new Honda Civic Coupe effort.

“It was the plan actually. Last year was more of a tryout year. I did some trial races in 2014 and I was always ready for a full season. But it was a learning season,” Oliver Eriksson explained.

“We ended up with the season win, which was over our expectations. Supercars would still be a big step. They thought I could still learn, so I am.”

As noted, the GRC Lites field has changed a bit this year.

Conner Martell, Alex Keyes, Tanner Whitten, Alejandro Fernandez and Collete Davis are among the returnees while rookies like Cabot Bigham, Travis PeCoy, Christian Brooks and the aforementioned Weckstrom and Keatts have made initial impressions in the early stages of this year.

Eriksson said it’s been an evolution for the class, since Cindric and Miles Maroney aren’t also back.

“It’s hard to tell. Last year was really competitive,” he said. “This year, some guys are still here, but the newcomers have come on quick. It’s harder to win this year. It’s a very tight field.”

That being said, Eriksson heads into this weekend’s GRC Lites doubleheader 16 points clear of Martell and Bigham.

He’s won twice in the first five races, and has three podiums.

‘One and Only’ Kyle Larson wins Outlaws opener at Knoxville Raceway

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Paul Arch/World of Outlaws
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The magic of dirt racing wins for Kyle Larson continued Thursday night at Knoxville Raceway, where he scored his third consecutive World of Outlaws victory at the famed half-mile track to open “The One and Only.”

After starting 10th, Larson sliced through the field and passed pole-sitter Logan Schuchart to lead the final eight laps in the No. 57 of car owner Paul Silva.

“Just an awesome race,” Larson said after earning $10,000 for his second consecutive NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory (after winning at Pevely, Missouri, last Saturday), his sixth Outlaws victory this season and 14th of his career.

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“I was able to track Logan down and hit the bottom really well in (turns) 1 and 2 and got a run on him.  It felt like I needed to take advantage of that before we got to heavier traffic and slid him and felt some contact. So, glad to see him not in the wall or anything like that. Just, hard work there. Heartbeat is up again.”

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson scored his sixth World of Outlaws victory Thursday (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).

It was the fourth Knoxville victory this year for Larson, who swept a World of Outlaws doubleheader weekend June 12-13 at the Sprint Car Captial of the World. He has more than 30 victories this year in sprint cars and midgets.

The One and Only continues Friday night with another $10,000 feature race that will set the starting lineup for Saturday’s Brownells Capitani Classic, which pays $50,000 to win.

The event is the Outlaws’ richest purse of 2020 and subs in for the annual Knoxville Nationals, which was canceled for COVID-19 concerns. Larson, a two-time Knoxville Nationals runner-up, has said winning The One and Only would be on the same as Knoxville’s signature event because of its tough three-day format.

Through the first of three nights, Schuchart and Larson are tied for second in The One and Only points standings, which factor in qualifying, heats, dash and feature races. Aaron Reutzel, an All Star Circuit of Champions stalwart who finished third Thursday, leads with 430 points.

A crash in Thursday’s 25-lap feature eliminated past Outlaws champions Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz after Cory Eliason spun in front of Sweet in Turn 1 to start the wreck, which also collected Sweet’s teammate, James McFadden. Sweet and Schatz finished outside the top 20, which moved Schuchart into the points lead for the 2020 season.

Schuchart still seemed slightly miffed after finishing second to Larson.

“As the race went on, I felt like I wasn’t hitting my marks as good,” he said. “I would have liked to of had a little bit better of a race with Kyle there. I wish his slide job was a little better there, but he’s got a reputation to live up to. That’s where you let other people make the rules and maybe we’ll get him next time.”


NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps) – 1. 57-Kyle Larson [10]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart [1]; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel [2]; 4. 2-Carson Macedo [24]; 5. 41-David Gravel [6]; 6. 21-Brian Brown [7]; 7. 71-Spencer Bayston [3]; 8. 18-Gio Scelzi [15]; 9. 12N-Joey Saldana [5]; 10. 5-Ian Madsen [19]; 11. 17A-Austin McCarl [21]; 12. 1A-Jacob Allen [11]; 13. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [16]; 14. 7S-Jason Sides [20]; 15. 24-Rico Abreu [22]; 16. 4-Terry McCarl [13]; 17. 2KS-Brooke Tatnell [18]; 18. O9-Matt Juhl [23]; 19. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [25]; 20. 83-Daryn Pittman [9]; 21. 11K-Kraig Kinser [17]; 22. 15-Donny Schatz [8]; 23. 26-Cory Eliason [4]; 24. 49-Brad Sweet [12]; 25. 9-James McFadden [14]; Lap Leaders: Logan Schuchart 1-17, Kyle Larson 18-25; KSE Hard Charger Award: 2-Carson Macedo[+20]

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson celebrated with his family and team after the first night of The One and Only (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).