BRISTOL, Tenn. – Expected to be a favorite to win in the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson’s chances at victory were scuttled by a crash 51 laps from the finish.
Larson, a past Truck Series winner on dirt at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, was running at the back end of the top 20 when Mike Marlar spun deep in the pack just prior to the lap-100 benchmark.
After getting back going, Marlar was running very slowly in the top groove of the race track as Larson sped toward turn three in the No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado.
Larson quickly came upon Marlar’s ailing truck at the entrance of the third turn and had nowhere to go, as well as little time to slow down or avoid running into the back of Marlar’s vehicle.
Larson slammed into the rear of the No. 56 Hill Motorsports entry and slid down the dirt-covered banking, where he was hit by Danny Bohn as Bohn dove low to try and avoid Larson, to no avail.
The impact with Marlar’s Toyota caused terminal front-end damage to Larson’s Chevrolet, ending his race after a tough day all around. Larson battled handling issues all race and struggled to get his truck re-fired following the first stage break of the race at lap 40.
“We battled a little bit of everything. My spotter said they were slowing down the backstretch, and I saw some trucks slow on the bottom, so I figured I would get a ton of spots going into (turn) three,” Larson explained. “I committed to the top, and there was somebody (Marlar) parked there. After that I slid down the track and got hit by the 30 truck (Bohn).
“We were fighting; our truck wasn’t very great,” Larson added. “We were making adjustments on it and I felt like we were making the Rich Mar Florist Chevy better, and I’d actually started trying to work the top. I was just running … about probably where I would have finished, and then our day ended like that.”
Larson was seeking his third Truck Series victory and first win in the series since his Eldora win in 2016.
He’ll have a shot at redemption in the Food City Dirt Race for the NASCAR Cup Series, looking for his second win of the year in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in just seven races.
However, after initially being slated to start from the pole by the metric formula due to the washout of heat races Saturday, Larson will have to come from the rear due to an engine change from Friday practice.
He tipped that he still gained plenty of knowledge from the Truck Series race that should help him for the Cup Series event that caps off the doubleheader program.
“I still learned something for the Cup race, which is nice. I learned how to pass people, so with having to start in the back, hopefully that helps,” Larson noted. “Hopefully the track widens out and they can water it a little bit lower than they have been … a full truck width and a half more than they have. It’s just too far around (the top side). I was trying to make it work in (turns) three and four, but it was just so far around (the outside).
“If we can get a little more grip lower and keep the bottom shined up and slick, I think we can put on a good race,” he tipped. “Hopefully it won’t be as dusty.”
The Food City Dirt Race will take the green flag just after 4 p.m. ET, live on FOX, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.