Buddy Kofoid wins inaugural High Limit Sprint Car race as series co-founder Kyle Larson finishes 10th

Kofoid inaugural High Limit
High Limit Racing - Facebook

Pocketing a check for more than $23,500, Michael “Buddy” Kofoid became the first winner of the new High Limit Sprint Car Series, which hosted their inaugural race Tuesday night at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind.

Created by Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet as a way to encourage midweek racing, the series will have their first full season in 2023.

The amount of the purse for the Kyle Larson High Limit Open is important as this series was conceived as a way to infuse capital into a sport that often runs on tight budgets. When announcing the series last month, Larson and the three-time, defending World of Outlaws champ Sweet’s biggest talking point was of their intention to bring high-dollar racing to the midweek schedule. The first full season will occur in 2023 with most events paying at least $23,000 to win plus a couple of $50,000-to-win shows.

Tuesday night at Lincoln Park, the winner’s purse started at $22,022, but that number quickly swelled. A bounty of $10,000 was announced for the drivers who could beat Larson, shared among those who finished in front of him, provided that he finish at least 10th. Prior to the race, a local sponsor ponied up an additional $500 per starter, so there was plenty of interest in the outcome of this inaugural race.

Midget standout Brady Bacon started on the pole and took the early lead. A rash of cautions at the midway point rearranged the field and set up a dash to the checkers in the 35-lap race.

Kofoid ran seventh at the halfway point, but with the money on the line, he found his way to the front with six laps remaining.

Kofoid bounced and bicycled his way around the high side, using much the same strategy as he employed a week and half ago to score the Driven2SaveLives BC 39.

“I’d get to Cory [Eliason] and mess up and fall back, get to Cory and mess up and fall back and I was thinking, I have to stop messing up,” Kofoid said on FloRacing.com. “And I finally got around Cory and I think Justin [Sanders] got tight on the curb and went to bottom in [Turns] 3 and 4 – and I ran [Turns] 3 and 4 better than I had all day. I got to his bumper and slid him into [Turn] 1 and was able to get to the cushion before he was able to get back around me.”

Sanders finished second with Kofoid’s teammate Eliason in third.

Larson had an eventful night, moving up as high as second on Lap 15 as the field navigated heavy traffic. On a mid-race restart, Larson cut a right rear tire and fell to the back. With 16 laps remaining, he worked his way to 10th, which fittingly triggered the $10,000 bounty that was shared among nine drivers finishing ahead of him.

Had he settled for 11th, Larson would have been $10k richer and the money would not have been in play. But the goal of the series is to give back to his racing roots.

Another reason for the series to race midweek is to attract drivers from NASCAR. Four Cup racers were in the field for Tuesday’s race with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. finishing the best among them in fourth. Alex Bowman finished sixth with Larson 10th. Chase Briscoe failed to advance from the B Main.

During the Dash draw for starting position, Bowman quipped that Larson promised each of them a heat win if they would get on the plane and come race. Stenhouse, Bowman and Larson each won their heat races.

“I believe everything Kyle and Brad have preached about why they started the series,” Kofoid said at FloRacing.com about the inaugural High Limit race. “There are a lot of big money races, but having mid-week races gives all of us drivers who race for a living more chances to contend, to get better and to make more money and put on better shows for the fans.”

Max Verstappen could clinch second F1 title with victory in Singapore Grand Prix

Max Verstappen F1 Singapore

While last year’s intense Formula One title battle went to the wire and captivated the world of sport, this year’s F1 championship long has seemed a procession for Max Verstappen that could end Sunday in the Singapore Grand Prix.

If the Red Bull driver wins, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crumbles, Verstappen will claim his second consecutive series title.

Verstappen leads Leclerc by 116 points with six races remaining in the 2022 season and will clinch the title if he scores 22 points more than Leclerc, his most realistic head-to-head challenger.

Verstappen, who turned 25 on Friday, must win to clinch a second world title, along with two other scenarios involving Leclerc. If Verstappen wins, Leclerc can finish no higher than ninth; if Verstappen wins and earns a bonus point for fastest lap, Leclerc can finish no higher than eighth.

“It’s quite a long shot,” Verstappen said. “I need a lot of luck for it to happen here, so I don’t really count on it.”

It is more realistic that Verstappen secures the title Oct. 9 at the Japanese GP.

“I think Suzuka will be my first proper opportunity to win the title,” the Dutchman said. “So I’m looking forward to Singapore right now, but I’m also very excited for next week.”

Still, there’ll be no tension in the air Sunday night at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, as in Abu Dhabi last year when Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton lost the title on the last lap to Verstappen. Hamilton missed out on a record eighth F1 title in a controversial finish following a chaotic late restart.

That fans won’t get to see any such drama this season is much to Hamilton’s regret.

“I feel for the fans . . . Last year, going right down to the wire, that was intense for everybody and so it’s never great when the season finishes early,” Hamilton said. “For you, as the one individual (winner) it’s great, but for the actual sport, (it) is not spectacular. Let’s hope for the future that it’s a bit better.”

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez (125 points back), Mercedes driver George Russell (132 behind) and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. (152) are mathematical title challengers only.

Red Bull is unlikely to allow Perez an opportunity to beat Verstappen, though, and would deploy him to defend its star driver. Verstappen has won 11 of 16 races, including the past five, taking his career tally to 31.

“It’s been a really special season, and I’m enjoying it a lot,” he said. “But I (will) probably enjoy it more after the season, looking back at it.”

He’s also won from seven different grid positions – a single-season F1 record – including starting from 14th at the Belgian GP last month.

“It’s even good to watch when you’re in the car,” McLaren driver Lando Norris said. “Especially when he starts (far back) and still wins quite easily.”

Hamilton hasn’t been close enough to challenge Verstappen this year after so long in the spotlight.

Two of Hamilton’s came on the last day: in 2008 with an overtake on the last corner of the final race, and in 2014 when he beat then-Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi. Two years later, he lost the title in the last race to Rosberg.

Hamilton won the championship with three races left in 2015, and he won the 2020 title at the Turkish GP in a shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With seven titles, that put him even with fellow great Michael Schumacher, who won the 2002 championship with six races remaining. An outstanding campaign saw Schumacher place first or second in 16 of 17 races and third in Malaysia – a race won by his younger brother, Ralf.

Hamilton has a record 103 victories but none this season.

Mercedes has struggled with ground effects, where the floor generates aerodynamic grip – an issue known as porpoising or bouncing – that has been particularly difficult on street circuits like Monaco or Azerbaijan.

Singapore’s tight and sinewy 3.1-mile street course again could be challenging.

“We hope that the car works better here,” Hamilton said. “It really depends how bumpy it is, and the bumps often set the car off. Maybe the car will be fine. Maybe it won’t.”

He does think Mercedes has figured out how to maximize opportunities when they do come.

“We know where those limitations are; we just have to try and work around them,” he said. “I think we were very fortunate, we’re in a much better place I think. So I hope that we’re not far away (from a victory).”

Russell seems to have coped better, however, and leads sixth-place Hamilton by 35 points in the standings. He has seven podium finishes compared to six for Hamilton, who was fifth in the second practice after leading the opening session. The Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc topped the second practice.

Williams driver Alex Albon returns to racing just three weeks after being hospitalized with appendicitis and then suffering subsequent respiratory failure.

Albon jumped back into the Williams FW44 for the first practice session on Friday in hot and humid evening conditions.

“It’s definitely audacious to come back for the toughest race of the season having only just recovered,” Russell said. “But it just goes to show the sort of grit and determination he has.”

Drivers lose around 5 kilos (11 pounds) in weight through dehydration during Sunday’s race.