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Corey Day (14) runs up the inside of Spencer Bayston. (Mark Funderburk photo)

5 Takeaways From The High Limit Racing Season Opener

GIBSONTON, Fla. — There was a lot to digest following the High Limit Racing season opener at East Bay Raceway Park, which concluded with a doubleheader on Tuesday evening.

The 30-lap feature marked what is scheduled to be the final 410 sprint car race at the Florida facility, which is set to close at the end of the season.

1. ‘It’s Not Rigged’

Series co-owners Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet literally led the inaugural High Limit field into its new era as a national tour, as the pair started on the front row during the first feature of the day. 

Larson won the race, while Sweet finished fourth.

Though the driver of the No. 57 Paul Silva entry said he typically roots for Sweet, he had a reason not to cheer for his cohort on Tuesday afternoon.

“I was glad to see him not run second, because all the fans would think it’s all rigged,” Larson noted, acknowledging a concern of many skeptics. “It was good to see some young guys up there battling for the win and staying in front of Brad — he’s been the best there is for five consecutive years.”

2. Watch Out For Corey Day

Young gun Corey Day is walking out of the “Battle at the Bay” second in the standings, tied with Sweet at 133 points after finishing sixth and second in the opening two features.

“Would’ve loved to win, always want to win, but it’s the first week for my team as a national team, so to run sixth and second — you can’t complain about that,” Day said, flashing a smile. “Our job is to put nights together like this.”

The 18-year-old humbly recognizes there will be struggles ahead, but a strong showing on the first night certainly gives him hope for the remaining season.

He also caught the eye of Tyler Courtney, who won the second feature of the night.

“He’s a young talented driver that nobody knows much about. As far as running for a championship, I think he’ll be a surprise this season,” Courtney said.

3. Does The Event Format Need Tweaking?

Zeb Wise’s evening trajectory during Tuesday’s finale was a key illustration of one of the wonky aspects of High Limit’s race format. He set quick time in his qualifying group and finished second in his heat race, but didn’t make the dash. As a result, that set him up to start ninth in the 30-lapper.

The reason? During High Limit’s two-day shows, the top three to four finishers from the preliminary feature will be slotted in as the top qualifiers on the final night.

Along with skipping qualifying, those three to four drivers will automatically line up on the front row of their heat races.

“I don’t really agree — I don’t think just because we’re at a track two nights in a row we need to lock four guys in,” Wise said. “When we’re racing for points, we should all have to qualify no matter what.”

4. Thorson Surprises During High Roller Debut

Not even Tanner Thorson expected to finish on the podium during the preliminary race at East Bay Raceway Park, and that’s saying something.

The California native always sets a high bar for himself wherever he competes, but the High Limit opener was a little different for Thorson, who is best known for racing midgets.

“It surprised me how much speed we had right off the bat, in qualifying and stuff like that. I was really happy with our third place,” Thorson said. “The second show didn’t go as good as we wanted it to, but we’ve got something to build off tonight.”

He’s going full-time sprint car racing with High Limit this season and, after Tuesday, he fully expects to be a contender for the championship.

Thorson clawed his way from 21st to 11th in the final feature.

5. A Tough Start To The Season For Peck

Justin Peck didn’t have much luck on his side during the season opener.

Unfortunately, he spent just as much time in the work area as he did on the track.  

“The first race, we were running second and trying to run Kyle (Larson) down. We were getting through traffic and you know, that car was in the middle and I was on the top and I saw a hole to get around him coming off of turn two. And as soon as I tried to fill the hole, it closed really quick,” Peck said.

The downtrend continued in the second race, when chaos broke loose on the start and the No. 13 Buch Motorsports driver had to spin on the front straight to avoid getting caught up in the mess.

“It was just fricking chaos the rest of the night. I crashed probably six, seven, eight times in that feature there,” Peck said. “I can’t believe we rolled it into the trailer.”

He admitted he didn’t have many words for the race, but added he was anxious to roll out of East Bay and onto the next race on the High Limit schedule.

“We didn’t set ourselves up too nice off the first two nights, but it’s a long season. We still have 57 more points shows to go, so anything can happen,” Peck said.