KOKOMO, Ind. — He may not have won the battle on Sunday night at Kokomo Speedway, but Kyle Larson won the war in resounding fashion, securing his first Indiana Midget Week title in his second attempt.
Making his first go at the entire six-race mini-series since 2011, Larson put together the most dominant run in Indiana Midget Week history, winning four of the six features and finishing no worse than second.
Larson opened the week with consecutive victories at Paragon Speedway, Gas City I-69 Speedway and Lincoln Park Speedway, with the latter two victories coming from 14th and 15th starting spots, respectively.
Though Larson’s streak of eight straight dirt-track wins, dating back to June 7, came to a close Friday night during the second half of a Lincoln Park doubleheader when he was bested by Tucker/Boat Motorsports teammate Chris Windom, Larson came roaring back to win Saturday at Lawrenceburg Speedway.
Larson nearly added his fifth win in six nights during the Kokomo finale, but came up .065 seconds shy to Tanner Thorson after a last-ditch run to the top of turn four on the final lap fell short.
His average finish of 1.33 across the six nights was far and away the best in the 16-year history of Indiana Midget Week and he set the record for most wins in a single Indiana Midget Week with four. Previously, no driver had ever won more than twice during the week.
“To win Indiana Midget Week means a lot,” Larson noted after officially locking up the title following heat races Sunday evening. “I’ve only gotten one other opportunity to race for the Indiana Midget Week championship and that was almost 10 years ago. I’ve grown up a lot since then, probably gotten to be a little bit smarter racer than I was, and to be as consistent as we’ve been and win all the races that we have this week … is awesome.”
Larson’s Saturday-night win at Lawrenceburg also tied the late Bryan Clauson’s mark for overall Indiana Midget Week feature victories at nine. In short, it was a record-setting run across multiple categories.
“Any time you reach or come near a mark that Bryan set is special,” said Larson. “To tie him in Indiana Midget Week wins is really cool. I got to race him a lot in 2011 and ’12, and then we became kind of close friends after I stopped racing him a lot. It would be special to surpass him (at some point), but it’s just an honor to be tied with him for now.”
The Indiana Midget Week title was not only the first for Larson, it was also the first for Tucker/Boat Motorsports and team co-owners Chad Boat and Corey Tucker.
“The guys have done a great job all week and we have a lot of great partners that made all this happen,” said Boat, whose team won the first five nights before being edged out by Thorson in the Kokomo finale. “All our guys really got up on the wheel this week. Kyle was really tough to beat. Chris stood up in the seat at Lincoln Park. It’s just been really cool. Just coming to Kokomo with a shot to win all six races was special. We just missed out on the sweep, but for a pretty-small crew, it makes it all worthwhile.”
“Chad and Corey have really, really nice equipment — probably the most beautifully-built race cars in the pit area,” Larson added. “It was just a pleasure to be able to get to drive them, especially at Kokomo. They’ve got a long notebook, with Chad racing himself (in the past), and now that he’s migrated into the owner and crew chief side of things, he’s been able to build it even more. It’s been a lot of fun to race for him and, hopefully, we can get back together more through the season.”
Just because Larson won the overall Indiana Midget Week crown, however, it didn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about what could have been after coming so close to beating Thorson Sunday night.
“The last restart was really exciting,” Larson recalled. “I wish I would’ve got the top going a little sooner. I felt like we were running an OK pace around the bottom where the top wouldn’t keep up. There, (when) we got to that last caution, I said ‘screw it.’ I had to try something else. I was hoping that Thorson wouldn’t get by Windom and we could have gotten the top working, but it didn’t quite work.”
The Tucker/Boat team swept the top two positions in Indiana Midget Week points, with Windom coming in second behind Larson, a distant 73 points back.
Buddy Kofoid was third in the IMW standings for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, followed by Hayward Motorsports’ Thorson and Clauson/Marshall Racing’s Tyler Courtney.
Larson becomes the 12th different champion of Indiana Midget Week since the inception of the mini-series in 2005, joining Shane Cottle (2005-’06), Jerry Coons Jr. (2007), Tracy Hines (2008, ’10), Clauson (2009, ’11, ’16), Brad Kuhn (2010), Darren Hagen (2012), Christopher Bell (2013), Rico Abreu (2014-’15), Shane Golobic (2017), Spencer Bayston (2018) and Logan Seavey (2019).