Kyle Larson won in his third World of Outlaws start since losing his NASCAR ride last month, leading the final 16 laps Saturday night at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55.
It was the Outlaws’ third race since returning from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shutdown, and the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series was racing before a limited crowd for the second consecutive night.
“Can’t thank all you fans enough for the support over the last few handful of weeks here,” Larson, who lost his ride at Chip Ganassi Racing after using a racial slur in an iRacing event a month ago, told the I-55 fans and a DirtVision audience. “It really means a lot. Everybody who’s on this car, my family, my friends. This win means so much personally. It’s … uh, I can’t even describe it.”
Before being joined by his wife, Katelyn, and his son, Owen, for the victory lane celebration, Larson again expressed gratitude again to his fan base.
“I can’t thank each and every one of you enough,” he said. “Everybody watching on DirtVision at home. All my supporters. It means a lot, and I can’t wait to get my journey started and kind of see where my future goes from here.”
The victory was a $20,000 payday for Larson, who started fourth and finished first ahead of Brent Marks and Brad Sweet. Points leader Logan Schuchart and Brock Zearfoss rounded out the top five.
“Hats off to Kyle,” said Sweet, Larson’s brother-in-law who had beat him Friday night. “I know he needed that.”
It was the ninth Outlaws victory for Larson, moving him into a tie for 44th on the career wins list with Sprint Car legends Keith Kauffman, Brent Kaeding and Kenny Jacobs.
Sheldon Haudenschild was leading comfortably with 16 laps remaining in the 40-lap feature race when his No. 17 (which is owned by NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) hopped the cushion, hit the outside wall and tumbled several times through the dirt.
Haudenschild was able to walk away from the crash, which handed the lead to Larson, who had finished runner-up Friday night to Sweet.
Larson kept the lead the rest of the way, easily pulling away after multiple restarts despite knocking out a sprint car suspension piece called a “Jacobs Ladder” (which helps with rear handling) during wall contact on Lap 12.
. @dirtvision REPLAY: For the first time in his career at @I55Raceway, and the first time this season, @KyleLarsonRacin heads to victory lane and up on top of the wing! #LiveNOS pic.twitter.com/VsD0nB8ZCZ
— World of Outlaws (@WorldofOutlaws) May 24, 2020
“It made it a lot harder, so I was extremely tight, but I felt good before I got in the wall,” Larson said of the damage. “It took me a handful of laps to get used to it. I finally just started running the crap out of it, and wide open was the only way I could keep it from bouncing.
“I actually felt like I was better than Sheldon before I got in the wall, and then once I figured out how to drive it with no Jacobs Ladder, I still felt I was better than him. It was unfortunate to see him get in the wall. I think it was going to be a great race. It always is with two aggressive drivers so, but I felt like I could have beat him heads up, so that was a big confidence-booster for me.”
. @dirtvision REPLAY: It was smooth sailing for leader @Haudenschild_17 until it wasn't. He went for a wild ride after getting over the cushion, but thankfully he is out of the car and is okay. 16 laps remain in tonight's feature from @I55Raceway live on DIRTVision. #LiveNOS pic.twitter.com/lvgXfsnbL8
— World of Outlaws (@WorldofOutlaws) May 24, 2020
After the red flag for Haudenschild’s crash, Larson easily handled multiple restarts and said the yellows helped him and his No. 57, which was prepared by Paul Silva, the general manager at the Kyle Larson Racing sprint car team. Silva also is the crew chief and listed owner of Larson’s No. 57.
“Paul Silva’s been working his tail off ever since we started the year at Volusia,” Larson said. “We’ve struggled, but he’s worked hard this week and got it better, and I felt great in that feature. I could finally get down the straightaways. I could finally get grip into the corner and off, so I don’t think I could have been much better other than not making a mistake on my part and hurting the car.
“I was really worried about traffic. My pace would slow down, and I would get even tighter, so I knew I needed cautions, and they really fell at the right time for me, so just everything kind of fell in my lap tonight. But we had a good car to go along with it.”
It was the first time Larson had raced with the Outlaws at Pevely, which has been on the series’ schedule since 1987, and he acquitted himself quite well.
Larson, 27, set a track qualifying record Friday, becoming the first Outlaws driver to crack the 10-second barrier on the 0.333-mile high-banked dirt track.
“I’ve always wanted to race here at Pevely,” he said. “It definitely didn’t disappoint. This place is great. All the track prep, I was worried, but it turned out to be a great racetrack.”
NEXT: The World of Outlaws will race May 29-30 before limited crowds at Lake Ozark Speedway.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (40 Laps) – 1. 57-Kyle Larson [$20,000]; 2. 5-Brent Marks [$7,000]; 3. 49-Brad Sweet [$3,000]; 4. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$2,700]; 5. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$2,500]; 6. 71-Shane Stewart [$2,200]; 7. 2-Carson Macedo [$2,000]; 8. 15-Donny Schatz [$800]; 9. 18-Ian Madsen [$1,600]; 10. 26-Cory Eliason [$1,450]; 11. 83-Daryn Pittman [$1,300]; 12. 14-Parker Price-Miller [$1,200]; 13. 24-Rico Abreu [$1,100]; 14. 17B-Bill Balog [$1,000]; 15. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$1,000]; 16. 51-Freddie Rahmer [$1,000]; 17. 41-David Gravel [$1,000]; 18. 7S-Jason Sides [$]; 19. 13-Paul McMahan [$1,000]; 20. 83R-Lynton Jeffrey [$1,000]; 21. 1A-Jacob Allen [$1,000]; 22. 87-Aaron Reutzel [$1,000]; 23. 4-Terry McCarl [$1,000]; 24. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$1,000]; 25. 41S-Dominic Scelzi [$1,000]; 26. 21-Brian Brown [$1,000]; Lap Leaders: Brad Sweet 1-2, Sheldon Haudenschild 3-23, Kyle Larson 24-40; KSE Hard Charger Award: 15-Donny Schatz[+17]
Qualifying Flight-A – 1. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 10.948; 2. 51-Freddie Rahmer, 10.965; 3. 57-Kyle Larson, 11.007; 4. 71-Shane Stewart, 11.032; 5. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 11.196; 6. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 11.22; 7. 1A-Jacob Allen, 11.308; 8. 41S-Dominic Scelzi, 11.428; 9. 21-Brian Brown, 11.436; 10. 48-Danny Dietrich, 11.667; 11. 4-Terry McCarl, 11.698; 12. 24-Rico Abreu, 11.718; 13. 35X-Stuart Brubaker, 11.724; 14. 33M-Mason Daniel, 11.793; 15. 99M-Kyle Moody, 11.82; 16. 17W-Shane Golobic, 11.848; 17. 17A-Austin McCarl, 11.877; 18. 24W-Lucas Wolfe, 11.946; 19. 41-David Gravel, 11.963; 20. 3-Ayrton Gennetten, 12.263; 21. 15-Donny Schatz, 12.274; 22. 35-Zach Hampton, 12.314; 23. 44S-Trey Starks, 12.361; 24. 13JT-Mark Dobmeier, 12.367; 25. 2M-Kerry Madsen, 12.456; 26. 9K-Kyle Schuett, 12.657; 27. 15H-Sam Hafertepe, 12.679; 28. 55W-Logan Wagner, 12.774; 29. 6-Bill Rose, 12.791; 30. 55-Hunter Schuerenburg, NT; 31. 42-Cory Bruns, NT
Qualifying Flight-B – 1. 49-Brad Sweet, 11.531; 2. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss, 11.806; 3. 14-Parker Price-Miller, 11.856; 4. 83R-Lynton Jeffrey, 11.859; 5. 83-Daryn Pittman, 11.874; 6. 2-Carson Macedo, 11.886; 7. 26-Cory Eliason, 11.894; 8. 5-Brent Marks, 11.923; 9. 13-Paul McMahan, 11.927; 10. 18-Ian Madsen, 11.975; 11. 17B-Bill Balog, 11.986; 12. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 11.998; 13. 9X-Paul Nienhiser, 12.015; 14. 7S-Jason Sides, 12.037; 15. 9-Kasey Kahne, 12.038; 16. 11-Zeb Wise, 12.061; 17. 91-Cale Thomas, 12.074; 18. 2C-Wayne Johnson, 12.083; 19. 39M-Anthony Macri, 12.12; 20. 2KS-Chad Boespflug, 12.249; 21. 91R-Kyle Reinhardt, 12.279; 22. W20-Greg Wilson, 12.281; 23. 51B-Joe Miller, 12.283; 24. 70-Justin Peck, 12.334; 25. 49J-Josh Schneiderman, 12.473; 26. 64-Scotty Thiel, 12.552; 27. 44-Jeff Swindell, 12.556; 28. 11T-T.J. Stutts, 12.61; 29. 21X-Brinton Marvel, 12.935; 30. 23B-Brian Bell, 13.127
— Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) May 24, 2020