Kyle Larson finishes second to Jonathan Davenport in the Wild West Shootout

Larson Wild West Shootout
Jacqueline Rumley / Twitter

With a worst finish of sixth and five top-fives over six nights of racing, Kyle Larson was one of two dominant drivers in the 2023 Wild West Shootout at Vado (New Mexico) Speedway Park. Jonathan Davenport also had five top-fives and a sixth, but with wins in the first three nights, he scored more points.

Larson entered the Wild West Shootout after choosing to skip the Chili Bowl Nationals this year, a race that was won by Logan Seavey.

He failed to win one of the six A-Mains but Larson earned three second-place finishes behind three different drivers. He was there to challenge Davenport on Night 2 and finished behind Mike Marlar on Night 5. Those same drivers led laps in the finale, which was held Sunday night with Bobby Pierce getting his second of two victories and Larson earning a consecutive runner-up result.

“That was the most fun late model race I have ever been a part of,” Larson said at after the final night of racing. “There were more lead changes in one race than there are all season. Literally from start to finish, it was a battle between Bobby [Pierce] and [Jonathan Davenport] and Marlar – and Stormy [Scott] was there.

MORE: Larson’s quest to be known as greatest cross-discipline racer includes IndyCar

There were seven lead changes Sunday night between Pierce, Davenport and Marlar.

“I wish we would have gotten to Victory Lane at least once,” Larson continued. “I don’t even know if we led a lap, but we were right there for a lot of them.”

MORE: 75+ Late Model races on tap in 2023

Three second-place finishes ensured fans recognized Larson’s ability in a dirt late model, a style of racing that is still relatively new to a driver who developed his craft in sprints and midgets. Over the past two years, he has amassed at five late model wins in three major series with two in the World of Outlaws Late Models, two in the Castrol Series and one in the XR Super Series.

At Vado Speedway in the Wild West Shootout, Larson won heat races on the first and last night of competition to bookmark his solid run.

But the most impressive race of the weekend may well have come in Night 4 when he was wrecked by a lapped car in his heat. The damage pushed him into the B-Main, where he finished second before coming through the field to finish fourth in the Feature.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.