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.

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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).

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.