Photo: IndyCar

Daly oval-best P5 after great drive; tight battle with Kimball

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MADISON, Ill. – Conor Daly put on perhaps the best drive he’s had in his Verizon IndyCar Series career to finish fifth in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline.

Starting 11th, Daly was running strong early before he slid through his pit stall during a sequence of pit stops, which saw his No. 4 ABC Supply Co. Chevrolet plummet down the running order.

From there, the A.J. Foyt Enterprises driver needed to pull off some aggressive moves to work his way back forward, and he did exactly that, especially on the restarts, when he frequently used the outside line to make passes.

“I loved the high lane. I learned from Tomas Scheckter back in the day: Always go high on the restarts. That’s what I went for and it worked on all the restarts,” Daly quipped regarding his restarts.

Daly added that he accepted full responsibility for slipping through his pit stall, highlighting that the slick pit lane simply caught him out.

“I did it to myself. We had a good start, a good first few stints and then I just slid through the box. Really slick pit lane and it was just something that I didn’t catch. But then after that I was determined to get to the front, because I knew the car was good.”

Further, he also had to survive a fierce battle with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball when battling over sixth place, which actually saw the two make contact as they jockeyed for track position.

Daly, as he detailed, was none too happy about how Kimball was defending – or in his view, blocking.

“(Charlie) hit me like twice. It was unbelievable. And he hit (my teammate Carlos Munoz) too – he knocked Carlos nearly into the wall, and he drove into my wing as I was coming underneath him. It was just a shame to see that. Normally I race together quite well with him, but yeah that was just kind of silly,” Daly expressed.

Kimball, for his part, labeled it hard racing, explaining that the contact between the two resulted from them simply fighting over the same real estate.

“I think he was trying to beat me to the bottom. But, just with the draft and the way the Chevy is, he ran into the back of me,” Kimball told NBC Sports of the incident.

Kimball added the nature of the track and the importance of track position, along with Honda’s aero disadvantage on the straightaways, forced drivers to defend aggressively.

“The way we were down the straights and the way the racing was here, you had to do everything you could to keep track position.”

Kimball finished seventh, which was his best oval result of the year, and second best overall (sixth at Road America).

Tony DiZinno contributed to this report from Gateway Motorsports Park

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‘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.

LARSON ON NASCAR‘I’d love an opportunity if it came’

“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.”


RESULTS

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).