$6,900 Weldon Sterner Memorial Belongs To Larson

$6,900 Weldon Sterner Memorial
Kyle Larson celebrates in victory lane at Lincoln Speedway. (Dan Demarco photo)

ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. — Having left Port Royal Speedway empty handed after three races last weekend, Kyle Larson returned to his winning ways Wednesday night at Lincoln Speedway.

Larson led all 33 laps from the outside pole to snag his 37th victory of the season and a $6,900 payday in the Weldon Sterner Memorial. He registered a .746-second victory over polesitter Rico Abreu. Lance Dewease finished third, 2.1 seconds behind.

It’s Larson’s national-best 28th 410 sprint car win of the season and, interestingly enough, all eight of his wins in central Pennsylvania have paid tribute to an influential figure.

Wednesday marked another history lesson for the 28-year-old Californian, who is enjoying the journey.

“It’s cool to win a race like that in honor of [Weldon Sterner],” Larson said. “There’s a lot of people in Pennsylvania, in central Pennsylvania, that have built sprint car racing into what it is today. It’s been nice to come here a lot this year and win some races in their honor. Glad to add another one and look forward to the rest of the week.”

Larson started the night timing second in the opening qualifying flight with a lap of 13.588 seconds. Aaron Reutzel took the overall quick time with his lap of 13.436 seconds.

Wednesday’s program used the Pennsylvania Speedweek format, where the fastest car in each heat from time trials started fourth. Winners from each heat and the fastest car from time trials who transferred to the feature made the redraw.

On a race track that didn’t widen out until later in the night, Larson took advantage of his second starting spot, racing out to an early lead after shooting around Abreu on the initial jump.

After two early cautions waved for seventh-starting Brian Brown and Brian Montieth, who had raced from eighth to fourth in four laps before spinning, Larson built a one-second lead eight laps in.

By lap 10, as Larson worked through lapped traffic, that became a half second before it swelled to 2.5 seconds with 15 laps left.

With 10 laps to go, Danny Dietrich, who clawed his way to 16th in the late stages after racing his way in from 14th in the B-Main, spun to stack things up.

Kyle Larson takes the checkered flag Wednesday night at Lincoln Speedway. (Dan Demarco photo)

At that point, Larson’s lead had shrunk from 2.5 seconds to 1.6 seconds, as Dewease had moved around Abreu and was on the march.

“The cautions just really worked out for me,” Larson said. “We got into heavy lapped traffic at one point, but those last two or three cautions had really helped before I got to traffic. When you see the No. 69, [Dewease], on the board, it makes you a little nervous. He can run other areas that I can’t. That made me run really hard and I tried not making too many mistakes. Track position definitely helps.”

Larson got another good jump on the restart with 10 laps left and used another with four laps to go, when Ian Madsen got sideways off turn two, to seal the deal.

It wasn’t a necessary win for Larson, but it was needed in a way. Last Thursday he wrecked a car at Port Royal during night one of the Tuscarora 50.

Now, Larson has the opportunity to further grow his win total by week’s end with the All Star Circuit of Champions at Williams Grove Speedway on Friday and the $20,000-to-win Dirt Classic at Lincoln Speedway Saturday.

A race Thursday at BAPS Motor Speedway is there for the taking as well, if Larson chooses.

“Paul Silva builds great race cars,” Larson said. “It shows how good he is. … You can’t ask for much more.”

Reutzel finished fourth while Anthony Macri placed fifth. T.J. Stutts, Freddie Rahmer, Kerry Madsen, Brent Marks – from 22nd – and Gio Scelzi rounded out the top 10.

Dietrich raced to 12th from 24th. Tanner Thorson settled for 14th in his winged sprint car return, while Brown finished 24th.

The finish:

1. 57-Kyle Larson, 2. 24-Rico Abreu, 3. 69k-Lance Dewease, 4. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 5. 39m-Anthony Macri, 6. 11-TJ Stutts, 7. 51-Freddie Rahmer, 8. 2m-Kerry Madsen, 9. 5m-Brent Marks, 10. 18-Gio Scelzi, 11. 3z-Brock Zearfoss, 12. 48-Danny Dietrich, 13. 88-Brandon Rahmer, 14. 20-Tanner Thorson, 15. 1x-Chad Trout, 16. 19m-Landon Myers, 17. 17-Ian Madsen, 18. 69m-Brian Montieth, 19. 87-Alan Krimes, 20. 10x-Ryan Smith, 21. 99m-Kyle Moody, 22. 2w-Glendon Forsythe, 23. 69-Tim Glatfelter, 24. 21b-Brian Brown.