Because of track conditions, all restarts were single file during the main event and Kaeding took advantage with the clear track. As he closed in on traffic, however, Larson closed in on the lead. They entered traffic on lap 25 and on the ensuing lap, Larson was stuck on the bottom behind Statler.
That allowed Kaeding to put several car lengths of distance, which was quickly erased. Two laps later, Kaeding nearly made contact while trying to lap Sam Hafertepe Jr. entering the bottom of turn three. As Kaeding was forced to dramatically slow his car, Larson sailed around the top groove. His momentum allowed him to slip by Kaeding for the lead as they crossed the start-finish line.
Seconds later, Austen Wheatley spun exiting turn four to set up a green-white-checkered finish. While Kaeding tried to throw a pair of slide jobs on Larson for the lead in the final two laps, neither was successful.
“I think the biggest thing was lapped traffic,” Kaeding said. “That kind of cost us the race I think. You’ve got guys that want to just keep racing and not go a lap down, (but) I’ll take a second any night.”
Larson claimed the previous two Gold Cup Race of Champions — held near the end of summer each year at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., where the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series wraps up this weekend on Saturday with the Mini Gold Cup.
“It’s cool to get to race with Tim because he’s by far the best out here in California and he can contend for Outlaws wins no matter where he goes in the country,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to get to race with Tim and it’s fun to beat him for a win because he’s beat me so many times for wins. It’s good to steal some back from him.”
Donny Schatz charged from 13th to third, earning his third top-five finish of the season.
“We had a good car,” he said. “The thing would go around the top and the bottom in (turns) three and four and the top in (turns) one and two. I just had to go where other guys weren’t. It was pretty treacherous up there; the cushion would hook you and grab you. We made a lot of spots up, but would have liked to been there racing for the win.”
Point leader Daryn Pittman was fourth and McMahan ended fifth.