ORRVILLE, Ohio — Kyle Larson made it two wins in two outings with the University of Northwestern Ohio All Star Circuit of Champions during the 30th annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek.
The Elk Grove, Calif., native drove from his seventh starting spot to pass Dale Blaney for the lead on lap 13 and went on to score the victory at NAPA Auto Parts Wayne County Speedway Monday.
Larson, who picked up his first UNOH All Star win the previous night at Cannonball Speedway, scored his second consecutive victory at a track he had never laid eyes on.
The victory impressed the packed grandstands and reminded many of the veteran fans of another youngster who came to Ohio Sprint Speedweek several years ago and won on tracks he had never seen – 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“Three and four was elbows up like a lot of places are in California where they have a lot of moisture and rough so that was a lot of fun,” Larson said. “I was getting a little wore out there…I usually don’t get tired but I had to take a second and catch my breath there under the yellow. I was really working hard there in three and four and in one and two I had to make sure I didn’t hit the tractor tires on the bottom.”
Stewart and Blaney would bring the field to the green with Blaney taking charge over Stewart, Paul McMahan, Bryan Sebetto, Stevie Smith and Larson. Just as Blaney was set to hit lapped traffic on the fifth circuit, the caution would fly for a tangle involving Stuart Brubaker and Ryan Davis.
On the restart, Blaney pulled away from a great battle between McMahan, Stewart and Larson. Larson would drive under Stewart for third on lap nine and around McMahan for second on the next circuit and quickly closed on Blaney. Danny Holtgraver would spin in turn two on lap 11, putting Larson right on Blaney’s rear bumper.
On the restart, Larson quickly dove under Blaney as they raced side by side through one and two, with Larson gaining the advantage down the back stretch. Larson would pull away as Blaney ran comfortably in second with the battle for third heating back up between McMahan, Stewart and Smith. Smith would take the third spot at the halfway point.
Larson would race into lapped traffic by the 18th circuit and began picking cars off one at a time. However, with eight laps to go, the lapped cars were racing side-by-side in front of Larson, and the veteran Blaney pounced on the situation to quickly close. Meanwhile, Smith, Stewart and McMahan continued to put on a great show for third with Cap Henry, Tim Shaffer and Tony Stewart in tow.
As the laps ticked off, Blaney pulled to within a couple of car lengths from Larson with Stewart moving into third with five to go. Just as it looked like things would get interesting as they took the white flag, Sam Hafertepe Jr. would bring out the caution, necessitating a green-white-checkered finish.
On the restart, Larson would have three lapped machines separating him from Blaney and would hit his marks perfectly to take the win. Blaney, Stewart, Smith and Shaffer rounding out the top five.