Kyle Larson says dirt goal was ‘show the world I made it to Cup on talent’

Kyle Larson victory crash
Trent Gower/World of Outlaws

Kyle Larson had something to prove this season in dirt racing, but even he didn’t believe he would be able to fulfill his motivation so well.

“Once I got let go from my NASCAR ride and knew that I was going to need to run a lot of dirt stuff, my goal was to show the world I made it to Cup on talent, and I deserved to be there,” he said on the latest episode from the World of Outlaws’ “Open Red” podcast. “That was what I wanted to prove to everyone. And I feel like I’ve been able to do that, and it’s gone way better than I thought it would.”

In a 35-minute conversation that was released Tuesday, Larson dissected the magical run he has enjoyed in dirt racing since his indefinite suspension from NASCAR.

He has more than 30 victories this year in sprint cars, midgets and most recently in his second career start in a dirt late model – which Larson said was “probably one of the most satisfying wins of my career.”

It also was among the more unexpected – though Larson also has surprised himself in car owner and crew chief Paul Silva’s No. 57.

“I felt like I could win a lot,” he said. “Typically, in years I’ve (raced) Cup but also run 25 dirt shows, I can win a quarter of the races.

“But I never thought I’d win over 50% of my races. Definitely wasn’t expecting to do as good as we’ve done this year. But as good as Paul Silva is and getting to race a lot more with him. And then myself getting more laps and getting into more of a rhythm of dirt racing.

“It really, really benefited the both of us. I think that’s why I’ve been able to win a lot this year, just getting that repetition of me inside the cockpit and him getting to dial in the race car has really helped in our success. It’s definitely gone way better than any of us expected. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Kyle Larson celebrated with family and team after the first night of The One and Only at Knoxville Raceway (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).

Part of his enjoyment has come from traveling with his wife, Katelyn, and children Owen and Audrey, who have become a jovial presence in his victory lane celebrations.

“Having my family there definitely makes winning different than before,” Larson told Open Red. “Just getting to see my kids have a lot of fun in victory lane and run around. Just seeing the excitement on their faces is probably the coolest part. That’s been probably the highlight of this year. Winning races but also getting to do it with my family and traveling up and down the road. And just making memories that we’re never going to forget as a family.

During the podcast, Larson discussed his increased affection and respect for Pennsylvania’s sprint car fans, a corner-by-corner dissection of he won his Aug. 22 duel with Logan Schuchart and the dynamics of his working relationship with Silva.

Larson also laments missing an opportunity to run the Knoxville Nationals and Kings Royal because of the pandemic but adds “the world’s going through a lot now. All us competitors and fans should be thankful we’re able to race still and compete for pretty good money. … I’m sure next year, all those events will go above and beyond.”

And will Larson return to race them in 2021?

“I don’t know what I’m going to be doing next year yet,” he said. “I haven’t really thought too far ahead of what I’m doing right now. That’s try to win every race I’m entered in and try to cap off what’s already been a really good season.”

You can listen to the Open Red podcast by clicking on the embed above or downloading where you get podcasts.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,

SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.