Dirt racing roundup: Could Kyle Larson win an Outlaws title this year?

Jimmy Dearing/World of Outlaws

Running full time in the World of Outlaws and winning a championship in the sprint car series has been a longtime objective for Kyle Larson.

“NASCAR is where I wanted to make it, but I would have been perfectly fine if I didn’t make it either,” Larson said on a December 2017 episode of the Outlaws’ “Open Red” podcast. “I’d probably be on the Outlaw tour probably right now, racing and loving life. … I would say racing on the World of Outlaws tour full-time is my main goal; NASCAR’s just the step to get there.”

The presumption then was that Larson, who also has said he wanted to race full time with Outlaws before turning 40, would have to wait until his NASCAR career was over.

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But given his recent tear (five victories in seven days across four states last week) while concentrating on sprint cars during his indefinite suspension from NASCAR, the circumstances radically have been altered for Larson.

It still doesn’t change the fact that any shot at an Outlaws would have to wait at least another year.

Though he has a 33% winning percentage in main events he has entered this year (three victories in nine starts), Larson isn’t eligible, according to series rules.

An Outlaws driver must have a full-time platinum agreement with the series and attempt every event (though dispensation can be provided for missing races because of injuries and travel woes).

Though Larson attempted the year’s first eight races (failing to make the main event in the Feb. 7 season opener at Volusia County, Florida), he skipped the June 5-6 doubleheader at Beaver Dam Raceway in Wisconsin.

But even if he were in championship consideration, it would be difficult to make up the lost ground in the standings through a points structure that heavily emphasizes consistency (click here for the distribution by finishing position, which is similar to how NASCAR awarded points before 2011).

Larson is ranked 14th and 400 points behind leader Brad Sweet (the defending series champion and also Larson’s brother in law).

With 49 races currently left (which could be lessened by rainouts or postponements that become cancellations), he would need to make up slightly more than eight points per race on Sweet while also leap-frogging some formidable contenders such as Donny Schatz and Logan Schuchart.

In a schedule already heavily affected by a two-month layoff for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it would be virtually impossible. David Gravel’s season illustrates another reason why.

Despite a victory, five top fives and nine top 10s in 11 starts, the defending Knoxville Nationals champion is ranked eighth in points because he missed the Feb. 8 race at Volusia (Gravel was competing in the ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway). His Outlaws car (which had a replacement driver at Volusia) is ranked fourth in team points.

Larson currently ranks second this season in NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victories behind Sweet (four). If he manages to lead the series in race wins without winning the championship, it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

In 1995, 20-time Outlaws champion Steve Kinser returned to sprint cars after a short-lived stab at the NASCAR Cup Series. Kinser scored 18 victories in 64 starts that season but finished ninth in points (Dave Blaney won the title with 12 victories).

That might be the benchmark that Larson is aiming for this year, presuming the Outlaws remain firmly in his plans (as he hinted at Saturday and previously).

Even if Larson can’t win a championship, coming at “The King” of sprint car racing might be a decent consolation prize.

Even with its namesake out of championship contention, Kyle Larson Racing still has an Outlaws sprint car title shot. Carson Macedo’s No. 2 car is fourth in the standings, 128 points behind Sweet (and with Donny Schatz and Logan Schuchart also ahead of him)

The Outlaws Sprint Car Series will hold a June 19-20 doubleheader at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana, this weekend with Saturday’s race televised live on CBS Sports Network (the first of three consecutive Outlaws weekends on the network).

The series’ Sprint Car and Dirt Late Model series also will be featured in a CBS documentary at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday (the Outlaws’ first appearance on national TV since 1995).

Dominic Scelzi, son of four-time NHRA champion Gary Scelzi, scored his first victory Sunday in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions at Chatham (Louisiana) Speedway.

It was the fifth top five in eight series races for Scelzi, who held off two-time series champion Aaron Reutzel.

“I have one more mark to add to my resume, and that’s an Outlaw win,” said Scelzi, whose younger brother, Gio, is in the Toyota Racing Development TD2 driver development program. “Hopefully we can do that real soon.”

FloSports announced Tuesday morning the acquisition of Speedshift.tv, which streams many grassroots racing events.

The move will add more than 400 races to the streaming platform of FloSports, which broadcasts a full schedule of USAC races as well as events at Eldora Speedway and the Ollie’s All Star Circuit of Champions 410 sprint car series. Combined with DirtonDirt (a subsidiary of FloSports), FloRacing will stream more than 800 racing events annually.

FloSports will begin simulcasting SpeedShift races with the Pennsylvania Sprint Speedway event June 27.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.