SALISBURY, N.C. – Kyle Larson became the first repeat winner of the QRC Open presented by HMS Motorsport on Wednesday night, driving to victory and a $5,151 payday at Millbridge Speedway.
Larson started fourth and passed polesitter Max McLaughlin with a turn-one slide job on lap two, never looking back after that. He led 50 of the 51 laps in his No. 1k Factory QRC/Chevrolet Accessories mount.
Including lap money, Larson’s total haul was $6,401 at the one-sixth mile dirt oval.
While he may have made winning the feature look easy, Larson’s night was anything but. He struggled with the handling of his outlaw kart during his heat race and then had to use a borrowed top wing from Brent Crews for the main event, after a side panel sheared off his primary wing during the pole shuffle.
If that wasn’t enough, Larson lost the muffler off his kart with 15 to go, but even that couldn’t keep him from parking in victory lane at the end of the night.
“Sorry for everyone’s ears,” Larson said in victory lane. “We pinched a pipe in the heat race and had to put a new one on for the feature, and it broke there before the finish. I just couldn’t believe that the kart kept falling apart but we were still able to stay up there with some pretty good power.
“From the heat race to now, we didn’t stop working on it the whole way,” he continued. “This was a night where we had a fast car, but all the issues and gremlins we battled made it so tough. Getting to the lead early helped, but the handling went away quick and we had to hold on. It worked out, though, and it feels good to get the job done and cash in with a lot of money.”
After taking the $25,000 Back Row Challenge the last two years and crashing out before halfway both times, Larson knew this time, track position was more important than another shot at the extra cash.
“Starting closer to the front definitely helped; it’s so difficult in a race like this to fight your way through all the traffic,” Larson noted. “I honestly felt like (Carson) Kvapil was better than me the whole race, even with his wing coming apart, but we were able to catch cautions at the right times and do what we needed to do to stay out front in the end.”
While Larson won the feature, the star of the show was Tuesday night preliminary winner Chase Majdic, who was scheduled to start second on the grid but elected to take the Phantom Racing Chassis Back Row Challenge for a shot at the five-figure payday and a potential $31,000-plus haul for the week.
He nearly made the decision pay off, too.
Majdic ripped through the field with his No. 42x Mittry Construction-backed outlaw kart, going from 24th to eighth by the competition break at halfway and utilizing a sequence of restarts during the second half of the race to pick off the frontrunning karts one by one.
A flip by Majdic’s teammate, Demo Mittry, brought out the final caution flag of the night with nine laps to go and set up the pivotal restart of the race.
At that point, Majdic was running fourth behind Larson, Carson Kvapil and Brent Crews, but he didn’t stay there long. The Redding, Calif., native slid Crews for third on the restart and took only one more circuit to dispatch Kvapil for second place in the same manner.
Majdic then charged from eight car lengths adrift of Larson in seven laps to end up right on Larson’s tail tank in turn three on the final lap.
He ducked to the bottom in an attempt to make the pass, but the slide job didn’t stick and Majdic ended up one car length short at the checkered flag.
Though dejected at coming up one spot short, Majdic still carried a smile after the race thanks to what he called “a fun run up through there.
“That was freaking exciting out there. I’ve never done anything like that in my life,” said Majdic. “Finishing second in a big race like this, you should be proud, but after coming so close it’s a little bit of a disappointment. I just needed a couple more laps.
“We had the car, we had the speed, we just needed Larson to get caught up a little more in traffic in those final couple laps to really have a shot at him.”
Eleven-year-old Brent Crews completed the podium, followed by Kvapil and McLaughlin, who started from the point after winning the pole shuffle earlier in the night.
Kyle Larson, Chase Majdic, Brent Crews, Carson Kvapil, Max McLaughlin, Tom Hubert, Jesse Colwell, Caden Kvapil, Nick Hoffman, Maria Cofer, Demo Mittry, Anissa Curtice, Nick O’Dell, Colby Copeland, Tanner Holmes, Carson Sousa, Dillon Latour, Joey Robinson, Tyler Letarte, Max Mittry, Daniel Whitley, Chase Johnson, Zach Daum, Logan Seavey.