Kyle Larson finally gets NASCAR Truck win at Eldora
Kyle Larson celebrates in victory lane at Eldora Speedway after winning the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby on July 20, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Kyle Larson overcame a penalty to claim the win in the NASCAR Camping World’s lone dirt-track race, Wednesday night’s Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
“It means a lot, especially losing the way I did the two years I ran,” Larson, who also competed in the Truck Series race at Eldora in 2013 and 2014, said. “Thanks to everyone on this GMS Racing team, DC Solar for coming onboard for this; this is very special for them. I knew running a blue No. 24, I had to run hard here at Eldora. Rico (Abreu) does a really good job in a sprint car with that. I had to put on a show.”
Larson was held for a lap by NASCAR officials after the sanctioning body determined that the driver stopped on the track to intentionally cause a caution on lap 52. The result was the first caution in the second segment of the 150-lap race.
Larson had taking the lead from Bobby Pierce late in the first of the three segments that made up the race. While leading early in the second segment, he suffered a tire problem that sent him into a spin and into the wall, handing the lead back over to Pierce. He was charged with intentially bringing out the yellow flag soon after.
“We got the flat tire, there, early. I knew we would get a lucky dog. I just didn’t know if I could get back to the top-three as quick as I did,” Larson said. “It just worked out where I got by (Christopher) Bell when he got in the wall, and I think Bobby had a gear issue. He was definitely better than I was, for sure.”
Larson got back on the lead lap during a lap 73 yellow flag and started the third segment in eighth position, with some of his positions up through the field regained as a result of stayed out during the competition caution between segments while some of the trucks in front of him gave up track position to head for the pits.
When the race restarted, Larson quickly made his way up to third. He got up to second with about 50 laps to go and then took the lead from Pierce on a lap 120 restart. Pierce quickly retook the lead, but right after regaining the top spot, he hit the wall to bring out the final yellow flag of the race with 16 laps remaining.
“I guess I didn’t really hold him (Pierce) off; he slid in there and hit the wall and got a flat, I think,” Larson said. “I hated that I couldn’t race with him, but I was happy when he was out.”
Larson retook the lead and drove on to the win after leading a total of 48 laps. Pierce was the only other race leader, dominating the event by leading up 102 laps of the total 150.
Christopher Bell, last year’s winner, finished second, 0.7 seconds behind Larson. The top-two had pulled away from the rest of the field, as third-place finisher, Rico Abreu, was seven seconds back.
“Kyle’s been trying to win this race for a long time, and it was cool for him to win tonight,” Bell said. “The guys at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) worked really hard to put me in this position. I was disappointed we couldn’t repeat.”
Like the race winner, Abreu also had trouble before winding up in the top-five at the end. Abreu’s truck sustained significant damage in a qualifying race, and early in the main 150-lap race, the series rookie struggled and went down a lap.
Jake Griffin finished fourth in his first start behind the wheel of the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota. Camping World Truck Series regular, Tyler Reddick, rounded out the top-five.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Cole Custer, Cameron Hayley, Daniel Hemric, Austin Wayne Self and Matt Crafton.