The 30-year-old driver known as “Yung Money” in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series had a much younger challenger Thursday in a preliminary feature for the Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif. as Kyle Larson held off a charge by 16-year-old Ryan Timms.
Timms already became the youngest competitor when he finished second to Carson Macedo in late August, 21 days after his 16th birthday. That is the minimum age to compete in the Outlaws Sprint Car series. Timms was making only his second start in the series. On that night in West Fargo, N.D., he failed to lead any laps, but finishing ahead of championship leader Brad Sweet raised a few eyebrows.
Thursday night, he earned the attention of Larson.
“He is really, really good,” Larson said of Timms in a release. “I know most of these young kids nowadays can rip a cushion like that. I saw him on the front row of the lineup and figured he would be a tough guy to beat tonight. It was crazy coming through the pack. I think if he hit those restarts a little better it was his to win.
“I knew my only opportunity was going to come if Ryan didn’t get a great launch on the restart. I knew that I would have to slide across quicker that second time, and thankfully it stuck. This place was awesome tonight, it was treacherous. It made sliders really sketchy and you’d be off the throttle sliding across super-fast. It felt great when I hit it right, but it was tricky every single corner.”
Timms led at Chico. In fact, he led more than half the race and had to retake the lead twice in the 30-lap affair on the quarter-mile dirt track. After losing the lead to Larson on Lap 14, he regained it on Lap 17 and seemed to be cruising to Victory Lane until a late caution bunched the field.
Similarities between the two drivers are not hard to find. Larson gained the moniker “Yung Money” when he burst onto the scene after running in regional series on the West Coast and it didn’t take long for him to challenge the established racers. But Larson’s rise was not quite as meteoric as Timms. Larson failed to advance to an A-Main in his first five starts and finished 24th in his inaugural race in 2008. Timms was ninth in his first race.
The second-place finish Thursday night locks Timms into Saturday’s $25,000-to-win finale. Should he win that race, he will be the youngest winner in series’ history.
“I really thought when he slid me and I got around him that it was my break,” Timms said on an earlier restart when he beat Larson. “It seemed like it was just better to be in second than first in some way tonight, so you could attack differently. It stings, but losing to him isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s a lot better than I expected, really.”
Rounding out the podium was James McFadden. That result does not lock him into the finale, but it will provide him with a front row start in his heat race on Saturday.