BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — On the heels of a very close second-place finish the night before, Kyle Larson kicked it up a notch and captured his first USAC Mopar National Midget feature victory at Bloomington Speedway Friday.
The third winner in as many nights of Indiana Midget Week competition, Larson led the last four circuits, as Chris Windom came home second, followed by Shane Cottle, Caleb Armstrong and Bobby East.
“It was a great race. Last night I was close to the victory and tonight we got it,” the young driver from Elk Grove, Calif., said afterward. “Everybody’s hard work has been paying off. Keith (Kunz) gives me a great car and great crew guys. Toyota has great engines now, they’ve stepped it up with Speedway Engines and they’ve been running awesome.”
Wheeling the Kunz No. 67 Toyota-sponsored and powered Bullet chassis, Larson started on the pole and led into the first turn, but Windom battled past on the inside of turn two and led by a car length, with Armstrong, Cottle and Jerry Coons, Jr. close behind.
Working the inside groove, Windom was able to build a half-straightaway lead when a caution on lap 11 bunched the field. Windom and Larson sped to a straightaway advantage when another caution flew, this time for Zach Daum’s dropped driveline and Billy Pauch, Jr. and Tanner Swanson getting caught up behind Daum on the front straightaway.
Larson grabbed the lead, using the top of turn three to get around Windom on the restart. But Windom retook the position on the next lap, hustling under Larson in turn two. Larson continued to work the top groove, making jabs at Windom whenever he could.
Windom had been noticing a brake problem, and on lap 27, his Speedway Motors Spike jumped sideways when he touched the brake pedal in turn two and Larson reclaimed the lead. Although Windom was able to close back, Larson took a lower line into turn three on the last lap, and almost collected Windom.
“I screwed up on the first start and pushed and let Chris get by,” Larson admitted. “I kind of thought that I gave the race away right there, considering that the track was all around the bottom at that point. Then with 10, or so, to go, we got a yellow and on the cool down lap I went to the top and it stuck. So I started packing the top down to hold me better up there. I found something and got the lead and then made two big mistakes and let Chris back by. He was really consistent on the bottom after that and I didn’t think I’d get back by him. But he finally made a mistake in three and four and killed his momentum and I snuck around him. I just got lucky that he made a mistake because it doesn’t happen very often.”
Windom packed his equipment and then explained, “We were really good the first part of the race. At the end, we got a little bit of a brake issue. Every time I would get in the corner and tap the brakes, it would throw the front end all the way up the track. Hopefully, we’ll get that resolved. Second place, I’m not complaining, this is a pretty good finish for us.”
Brady Short won the sprint car feature over Dave Darland.