DOVER, Del. — Kyle Larson has had a very businesslike rookie season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, turning in one top 10 after another.
Nothing flashy, just consistent good finishes. That all changed last week, however, when a win at Loudon launched him onto the national stage and into championship contention.
Saturday’s win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was not Larson’s first — he won in June at Gresham Motorsports Park – but when three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart comes to Victory Lane to celebrate and praises you over the public address system, things have gone to a different level.
Larson out-dueled Corey LaJoie in a thrilling finish to the G-Oil 100 at NHMS and now heads to Dover International Speedway for this week’s American Real TV 150 just three points out of the championship lead, the closest he’s been to the top of the standings through 11 K&N Pro Series East races this year.
A 20-year-old from Elk Grove, Calif., Larson has posted an average finish of 6.8 during his rookie campaign, including six top fives and nine top 10s. With a background in midget and sprint cars, everywhere the series goes this year is a first-time experience for Larson, but the success level remains constant.
Competing for Rev Racing as part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity initiative, Larson has been especially efficient at tracks in which the top three series of NASCAR compete, which will be the case again this week at Dover. He finished ninth in his K&N Pro Series East debut at Bristol, was fourth at Richmond, had finishes of sixth and second in two trips to Iowa, and won last week at New Hampshire – an average result of 4.4 on the largest stages the series has to offer.
While he has experienced success throughout the season, Larson will have a stern challenge this week at the “Monster Mile.” In 11 previous K&N Pro Series East stand-alone races at Dover, the only rookie and track first-timer to reach Victory Lane was Brett Moffitt in 2009. Moffitt, coincidentally, is who Larson is chasing for the 2012 championship, and the only driver to earn multiple wins in the series’ history at the track.
With just two races on the schedule following the American Real TV 150, the stakes will be high for Larson and Moffitt when the green flag drops on Friday evening, but they aren’t the only championship contenders as the season winds down. LaJoie is just 12 points back of Moffitt with Chase Elliott one tally further out, which should provide plenty of intrigue at the concrete high banks.