BECHTELSVILLE, Pa. — Kyle Larson flung his No. 57 into turn one Tuesday night at Grandview Speedway and pulled alongside race leader Freddie Rahmer, but without much surprise, it didn’t stick.
This was round five of Pennsylvania Speedweek, and in those six laps that remained it appeared Larson made his move too early, as Rahmer motored down the backstretch with a lead he kept all race.
But Larson and his dynamic mind was only sizing up the eventual knockout blow. With two laps to go, Larson blitzed Rahmer on the same move that had zero return to win the 35-lap, $10,000-to-win feature at Grandview.
“A little bit was sizing it up to see if I can pull the move, but also show my nose to see if he made a mistake,” Larson said of his try for the lead with six laps to go that appeared to cost him more than help at the time.
Rahmer, who led 33 laps and finished second, admittedly didn’t make any mistakes. He did what he could. It’s just Larson was that much better, he claims.
“Just got beat at the end,” Rahmer said. “I just kept running my race. I thought we were going to be OK and get to the lapped cars quicker. That’s all.”
Larson entered the night 24 points behind Danny Dietrich in the series standings and is exiting with an unofficial 28-point lead going into round six at Port Royal Speedway on Wednesday night. The Californian’s victory lane march started with a second-quick in time trials to his fellow dirt racing foe Christopher Bell.
He finished second in his heat, maintaining his re-draw eligibility, where he drew third for the main event, behind Bell and Rahmer. Five laps in it was all Bell, who rushed out to a 1.2 second lead advantage on Rahmer and looked like his winning self when he rolled to victory last year in this very race.
But on a lap five caution for Kyle Reinhardt, who got bent out of shape in turn one, Bell couldn’t slow it down quick enough and tagged Reinhardt, causing enough harm to pack it up for the night.
After a caution flag for Rico Abreu, Reinhardt, and Robert Ballou on the ensuing restart, a 19-lap green-flag run transpired and Larson slowly entered the picture. Larson got around Sammy Swindell for second on lap 14 and shaved Rahmer’s 2.8-second cushion to one second before the race’s final caution with 10 to go.
“The longer the race went the better my car got,” Larson said.
It took Larson four laps to pull within striking distance of Rahmer, and that’s when he tried the slide job barreling into turn one with six laps to go. But Larson, like he had most of the race, made up his ground on Rahmer in turns three and four, where he found a line of his liking along the cushion.
That’s when with two laps to go Larson generated a head of steam off turn four that propelled him by Rahmer for the win.
“I knew I was running out of time,” Larson said. “I let it fly.”
It’s Larson’s first win of this Speedweek and first win in Pennsylvania since he arrived in the state last Wednesday. He’ll enter night six of Speedweek on the throne and in command of the series standings, looking to get one step closer in his title hunt.
“We’ve had a good stretch of races but we’ve gone a week without winning so it feels like a long time,” Larson said with a laugh. “I really want to win the points championship. It pays the winner heavily. Dietrich has won two and I’ve lost a lot of points there [over the past three races]. So it’s good to make up a lot of points on him tonight.”
Feature (35 Laps) – 1. Kyle Larson 2. Freddie Rahmer 3. Sammy Swindell 4. Ryan Smith 5. Danny Dietrich 6. Lance Dewease 7. Brock Zearfoss 8. Aaron Reutzel 9. Anthony Macri 10. Logan Wagner 11. JJ Grasso 12. Alan Krimes 13. Brent Marks 14. Ryan Taylor 15. Dylan Cisney 16. Lucas Wolfe 17. TJ Stutts 18. Kyle Moody 19. Brandon Rahmer 20 Robert Ballou 21. Brett Michalski 22. Kyle Reinhardt 23. Rico Abreu 24. Christopher Bell
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