HAGERSTOWN, Md. — If there was any sort of notion that Kyle Larson would stumble and lose grip of the Pennsylvania Speedweek title, he took it and shoved it into yesteryear on Thursday night at Hagerstown Speedway.
On paper, Hagerstown appeared to be Larson’s only glaring weakness heading into this year’s Speedweek. But on Thursday, Larson turned in his most dominant performance of the week at the very place that’s given him fits through the years.
Larson led all 30 laps from the pole on a night that was all his from the get-go, winning his second Speedweek race in round seven at Hagerstown and blowing open his points lead to 110 over Danny Dietrich with two races to go.
“My car was good all night,” Larson said. “We were really good in qualifying and really good in the feature. Finally starting on the front row helped my night out. It was good to be able to run all over the track and lap cars pretty easily there. I felt like I was setting a really good pace.”
Larson, who finished 11th the last time he raced at Hagerstown in 2017, started the night with a bang by coming narrowly close to breaking the track record in time trials. He clocked a 15.593 while the track record stood at 15.580.
He ultimately earned quick time, but it sent a louder message in the moment since Dietrich’s time of 15.648 stood for over half of time trials. Larson finished second in his heat race and put himself in the draw once again. For the first time all week, he drew a front row starting position and he knew exactly what to do from there.
“It really is nice starting on the pole,” Larson said. “You aren’t fighting as hard and you set your own pace.”
The race stayed green for the first 23 laps and Larson staked a 5.172-second lead on Brent Marks. He weaved in and out of lapped traffic better and smoother than anybody by a wide margin, gliding through the middle of turns one and two and tucking it in as low as possible in turns three and four.
“The top gets so flat here in [turns] one and two, you have to slow down a lot on entry just to run up there,” Larson said. “I felt like I could make up enough time just short-cutting the corner and my entry [by] carrying enough speed through the middle and still pick up decent drive down the backstretch.”
Right when Larson seemed to have it in the bag the race’s first and only caution arose for Brock Zearfoss, who spun on his lonesome in turn four.
“I really didn’t want to see that caution,” said Larson, who shouldn’t have had any doubt himself, because he raced away from Marks to earn a 0.942-second victory.
Sammy Swindell finished on the podium for the second time this week in third. Rico Abreu and Freddie Rahmer, from 10th, rounded out the top five. Anthony Macri, Ryan Smith, Danny Dietrich, Chase Dietz, and Mike Wagner complete the top 10.
Now, the series shifts back to Williams Grove Speedway on Friday night for round eight of nine. What’s on the line? A $15,000 payday and Larson’s first-ever win at the track.
“I felt really good there [last Friday],” Larson said. “Hopefully we’ll be better. .. This is the best we’ve ever been on half-miles. We’ll see.”
Feature (30 laps): 1. Kyle Larson, 2. Brent Marks, 3. Sammy Swindell, 4. Rico Abreu, 5. Freddie Rahmer, 6. Anthony Macri, 7. Ryan Smith, 8. Danny Dietrich, 9. Chase Dietz (Hard Charger), 10. Mike Wagner, 11. Brock Zearfoss, 12. Kyle Moody, 13. Kyle Reinhardt, 14. Logan Wagner, 15. Chad Trout, 16. Brett Michalski, 17. Robert Ballou, 18. T.J. Stutts, 19. Jared Esh, 20. Justin Whittal, 21. Brandon Rahmer, 22. Lucas Wolfe, 23. Dylan Cisney, 24. Robbie Kendall.
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