Kyle Larson stays dominant on dirt with fourth World of Outlaws victory

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Kyle Larson remains mostly unbeatable in dirt racing this season.

Larson scored his fourth World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car victory in the past two months, beating 10-time series champion Donny Schatz on a restart with three laps remaining Tuesday night to win at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park.

He earned $10,000 for capturing the 40-lap main event in the Brad Doty Classic, which is named after the Sprint Car Hall of Famer.

‘THEY’VE STUCK BEHIND ME’Kyle Larson comments on future, Outlaws plans

It’s apropos because Larson, 27, is having a Hall of Fame-type season on dirt while barnstorming across various series, tracks and states in sprint cars and Midgets.

On Sunday, his No. 57 won the 30-lap main event at Sharon Speedway in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions for his third victory during Ohio Sprint Speedweek. A week earlier, he dominated the 30th annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek with four victories in nine races.

Larson began focusing on dirt racing after being fired from Chip Ganassi Racing and placed on indefinite suspension by NASCAR for using a racial slur during an iRacing event.

Since finishing 10th in the World of Outlaws’ return May 8 at Knoxville Raceway from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Larson has nearly 20 victories and an Indiana Midget Week Championship. He had a streak of 10 consecutive Midget victories in the United States that included his breakthrough in the 2020 Chili Bowl.

According to Speed Sport Magazine journalist Jacob Seelman, Larson has an average finish of 2.0 since May 30 in his past 30 dirt starts, which include 17 victories and an eight-race winning streak in June.

Larson essentially had a perfect Tuesday night in the premier national sprint car series. He won his heat race, started on pole after winning the dash by more than 4 seconds and led all 40 laps in the main event. He has won his past three Outlaws starts after sweeping at Knoxville Raceway in June (the fourth and fifth victories in his eight-race streak).

“It’s one that I think everyone looks forward to running,” Larson said in a release about the Brad Doty Classic. “Brad is such a nice guy and has done so much for this sport, long before I was born. It’s cool to get the opportunity to run this race. I got beat by Donny the last time we ran here, so it was good to edge him there.”

Kyle Laron’s No. 57 triumphed for the fourth time this season Tuesday in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car Series (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

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Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
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Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2