Kyle Larson wins fifth consecutive dirt race on the All Star Circuit

Michael Fry/ASCOC
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Kyle Larson scored his fifth consecutive victory in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions, leading the final 21 laps to sweep the Saturday-Sunday races at Port Royal (Pennsylvania) Speedway.

Coupled with winning Saturday in the first half of the Bob Wikert Memorial, Larson won an extra $5,000 on top of the $10,000 earned for each victory.

He has 10 victories in 16 starts this year on the 410 winged sprint car circuit owned by Tony Stewart. Over the last 45 days in the No. 57 owned by Paul Silva, Larson has 20 victories in 33 starts on dirt tracks with a worst finish of sixth.

He also has won his last three starts in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and is expected to go for four in a row Tuesday night in the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania.

“My car was really good again tonight. Hats off to Paul Silva and everyone else that helps make this all possible,” Kyle Larson said after his victory Sunday, according to an ASCOC release. “We had a string of races where we just missed getting the wins and got beat late. It was starting to stress me out, to be honest, but now we’re winning again. Hopefully we can keep it up, especially with some bigger races coming up.”

Larson took the lead at Port Royal on Lap 10 from Carson Macedo, who drives for Kyle Larson Racing in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car series. Though he led 32 of 60 laps across two feature races, Larson said he still wasn’t comfortable until the checkered flagg.

“I was honestly a little worried the whole race,” Larson said. “(Points leader Aaron) Reutzel was running really hard the first ten laps, but I felt like I was really good behind him, especially getting through turns three and four. I wasn’t sure how close he would be to me once I got out front, but I felt like I hit my marks good enough that he wouldn’t be able to get back by me.”

A-Main (30 Laps)

1. 57-Kyle Larson [6]; 2. 69K-Lance Dewease [10]; 3. 39M-Anthony Macri [9]; 4. 29-Danny Dietrich [5]; 5. 1A-Jacob Allen [8]; 6. 41-David Gravel [11]; 7. 5-Brent Marks [22]; 8. 83-Daryn Pittman [3]; 9. 72-Ryan Smith [20]; 10. 5C-Dylan Cisney [19]; 11. 1S-Logan Schuchart [7]; 12. 26-Cory Eliason [15]; 13. 51-Freddie Rahmer [17]; 14. 13-Paul McMahan [13]; 15. 17-Josh Baughman [23]; 16. 17h-Sheldon Haudenschild [12]; 17. 55-Mike Wagner [27]; 18. 11-Zeb Wise [25]; 19. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [21]; 20. 9-Kasey Kahne [24]; 21. 2M-Kerry Madsen [1]; 22. 2-Carson Macedo [2]; 23. 87-Aaron Reutzel [4]; 24. 17B-Steve Buckwalter [16]; 25. 2f-AJ Flick [26]; 26. 55K-Robbie Kendall [18]; 27. 39s-Sammy Swindell [14] Lap Leaders: Carson Macedo (1-9), Kyle Larson (10-30)

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”