MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – Every once in a while, specifically on long, cross-country road trips or a late race night that bled into early morning, Katelyn Larson would peek over her husband’s shoulder, wanting to know what’s keeping him so occupied on his phone.
“Who the heck are you texting?’” Katelyn would ask.
“Lance,” Kyle Larson would, more often than not, respond. “Lance Dewease.”
“Oh, you guys talk?”
“Yeah, we actually talk a lot.”
The Larsons are typically the center of attention wherever they travel, but at the track, they diverge. Katelyn charges the Larson merchandise trailer, while Kyle electrifies with his gung-ho driving style.
They are, in their own unique ways, wildly popular and well documented.
But this Larson-Dewease relationship flies under racing’s broad radar, and even piqued Katelyn’s curiosity, simply because she’s not around to see it.
One is a 54-year-old, all-time sprint car great in Pennsylvania who’s made a living with his bottom-feeding, slick-track mastery. The other is a 27-year-old Californian who mesmerizes along the fence.
They seem to be polar opposites, yet Dewease and Larson are good friends and texting buddies, brought together by their racing aptitude and what actually bonded them to begin with: golf.
It all started in 2012, the second race of that year’s Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek at Big Diamond Raceway. Later that week, Dewease and Larson started the first of many golfing adventures with a mutual friend in the area.
But the Larsons needed help and Dewease figured he’d lend a hand to the kid that bounced it off the speedway tire barrier twice and limped home to a 19th-place finish.
“He was a gasser. A little out of control,” Dewease, who finished fourth that night, said of his first impression of Larson.
Larson had a test for an upcoming NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race the next morning at CNB Bank Raceway Park and needed to use his parent’s car to make the 150-mile haul because he was too young for a rental.
So, Dewease and his wife drove Larson’s parents, Mike and Janet, to their hotel in Carlisle after the race ended.
“Gosh, they were the nicest people,” Mike Larson recalled.
At that moment, in a revealing conversation, Dewease started putting the pieces together.
“I really didn’t know much about his upbringing,” he said. “But his parents, his family, are great people.”
While Dewease acted as the designated taxi, he learned just how likable the Larsons are and why Mike and Janet’s son struggled to keep it off the tire barrier.
Larson grew up racing outlaw karts around the California bullrings, and the only way to hang out there was by owning the top, even if it came at the expense of some torn-up equipment.
“That’s when I understood,” Dewease said. “You have to race that way out there.”
Larson’s first impressions of Dewease, who raced the No. 30c then for Donny Owens, were more complete and admirable.
“I didn’t know a ton about Lance then, but he was and still is a very down-to-earth, good guy,” Larson said. “I’ve always been a big fan of his.”
As time went on, Larson ascended through the NASCAR ranks, while Dewease eventually joined forces with Don Kreitz to form a legendary duo.
“Once he got in the (No.) 69k, I was like, ‘Man, this guy still is really good,’” Larson said. “Like really good.”
Their starpower and fandom seemed to grow simultaneously, and it’s led up to the present day: a rivalry among the Dewease and Larson fan bases, which is more like the chief of the Pennsylvania Posse vs. a generational invader, with unique stakes heading into round eight of Pennsylvania Speedweek Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway.
Dewease will be going for his 100th win at Williams Grove, while Larson eagerly aims for his first victory at the famed speedway, looking to deny his golfing and texting buddy of a milestone 38 years in the making.
Not only that, but Larson genuinely wants to ink his name in the record books, alongside the greats he grew up watching.
“He really wants to win at the Grove,” Mike Larson said.
On the outside, it has rivalry written all over it. But in essence, when you strip down prestige, trophies, and accolades on the line, it really isn’t.
“I don’t view it as a rivalry,” Larson said. “We both want to see each other succeed.
“But anytime any outsider comes into Pennsylvania, fans see rivalry,” Larson added with a slight grin.
Thumb through social media on a race night, when Dewease and Larson are in the same field, and one has enough entertainment to last an entire evening.
There are the fans, like Dewease and Larson themselves, who casually kid with each other. There are ones that get animated, and there are certainly ones that mistake passion for anger.
Every shade and variation of the Dewease-Larson saga shines through in some way, shape, or form, and Larson understands every bit of it.
“The Pennsylvania Posse fans have their drivers, but [Lance],” Larson started, “Lance is the torchbearer.”
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