Kyle Larson held off 303-time winner, 10-time champion Donny Schatz and the defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car title holder Brad Sweet in route to his third series win of 2022 and his second consecutive at Attica Raceway Park in the Brad Doty Classic.
For Larson, the race was divided into thirds as he spent the first 12 laps chasing down Sweet, another 18 laps running uncontested and the final 10 laps fending off a determined charge by Schatz.
Larson’s final margin of victory on the third-mile dirt track was a slim 0.364-seconds and the outcome was unknown until the final lap.
“When I got to traffic, it was hard to see and I made a mistake with a lapper, then I knew Donny was right with me,” Larson said in a release. “Thankfully, Donny is the cleanest racer in the world and you can always trust him when you’re around him. I wish every other racer would take note from Donny Schatz and the way he gives you respect on the track.
“I knew Donny was quite better in Turns 1 and 2, so I just needed to manage that gap as smart as I could. My car was handling really well, and I could kind of cheat the cushion to limit my mistakes, but I got a little lost in traffic. I feel like Paul Silva keeps giving me better and better cars every time we hit the track. He’s got me plenty excited ahead of Eldora.”
Never running a full-time schedule, Larson has already amassed 27 World of Outlaw wins in 120 starts – a winning percentage of nearly 25 percent.
The race was both a reprise of last year’s Knoxville Nationals, also won by Larson, and a preview of the upcoming Kings Royal which runs Wednesday, July 13 and winds down on Saturday, July 16.
For Schatz, who has only one win this season in the opening round of the season at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., it was chance to get back into winning form. Since then, he has been shut out of Victory Lane in 35 starts with only six podium finishes. One of these came last week at Wilmot (Wis.) Raceway.
“These guys have found a lot of things to get us better lately,” Schatz said. “The folks at Ford have worked extra hard to keep this thing on the edge of my foot to control it better. Racing for the win again feels good, but we’d like to be up there in Victory Lane. I had to go where Kyle wasn’t and my car was actually decent everywhere, but he countered me quite well. I never felt like I was fading or anything, so that’s a good feeling.
“It’s great to start a big week off like this.”
For Sweet, the third-place finish was also bittersweet because he is riding a long winless streak that stands at 25 races. Consistency has kept him in the points’ lead, however, by 56 over Sheldon Haudenschild.
Logan Schuhart in fourth and David Gravel rounded out the top five.
Larson’s win is just part of a great week for Hendrick Motorsports with Chase Elliott winning Sunday’s Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and William Byron earning his first Slinger Nationals late model victory on Tuesday night. Alex Bowman will also get a chance to make his mark this week as one of the contenders for the Kings Royal.