Larson Dominates Western Classic

Kyle Larson won the Gold Crown Midget Nationals at Tri-City Speedway last October. (Don Figler Photo)
Kyle Larson, whown winning the Gold Crown Midget Nationals at Tri-City Speedway in October, was back in victory lane Saturday night at Peoria, Ariz. (Don Figler Photo)

PEORIA, Ariz. — Kyle Larson picked up where he left off in the Mopar National Midget Series, streaking to a commanding lead and eventual victory in Saturday night’s Western Classic at Canyon Speedway Park.

The win was Larson’s series-leading fifth of the year.

Zach Daum got the jump from outside the front row and immediately put distance between himself and the rest of the field. Larson wasted no time in jumping up to the second spot, as the rest of the top 10 raced under a blanket. After an early caution, Larson stalked Daum before making the pass for the top spot off turn-two on lap six. It was a lead he would never relinquish.

After a lap-eight yellow, the rest of the race went green as Larson led fast qualifier Darren Hagen. The two sliced through traffic, with Hagen gaining slowly at times. Over the final few laps, Larson edged away in traffic to notch a .906-second victory in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.

“Whoever could get the lead early was gonna be pretty tough to beat. I just had to hit my marks and get through traffic tonight. We’ve had a really good year in this car, and we’re trying to get Keith and Pete (Willoughby) the owner’s championship, so hopefully I can help get that done at Perris in a couple weeks for Turkey Night,” Larson said.

Hagen, who has now locked up the 2012 Mopar National Midget Championship, finished off another strong night just one position short of a clean sweep of the program. The Riverside, Calif., driver will celebrate his championship near his hometown in the season-closing Turkey Night Grand Prix at Perris Auto Speedway on Nov. 22. He came home second to log his 14th top-five of the season in the RFMS Racing – Liberty Village No. 3 DRC/Esslinger.

“I’ve been blessed to have the right guys surrounding me, and we’ve had a really phenomenal year. That’s what it all comes down to. I wish we could have had a couple cautions to adjust some, but it was a good race. Kyle Larson is just tough to beat. We’ll try to finish it off and go win Turkey Night,” Hagen said.

After starting from the third-row, Rico Abreu survived a tussle with Tracy Hines to register his best finish in the series in this rookie season, coming home third in the Keith Kunz Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 67k Bullet/Speedway Toyota.

“My guys have worked really hard all year. What a great accomplishment again by our team. The track was really heavy, and it was hard to pass tonight, but we slipped by a few to get to third. I wish we would have gotten into traffic a little sooner, and we were getting really good towards the end. I just have to thank my team,” Abreu said.

Hines came home fourth in the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. No. 24 Spike/Stanton Toyota, while Bryan Clauson joined his teammates in the top-five aboard the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 67 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.