PLACERVILLE, Calif. — Kyle Larson made his first midget start of the season a winning one, claiming the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship main event on Friday at Placerville Speedway.
It was the opening night of the prestigious Hangtown 100.
“It was a lot of fun and it’s cool to get back into victory lane in a midget,” Larson stated. “Not that I race them a lot, but it’s been a couple years since I’ve won a midget race. I’ve run 10 or 12 midget races over the last couple of years and that’s probably the longest I’ve gone without winning a midget race.”
Utilizing a decade-old Eagle chassis, Larson seemed to be in a class of his own as he raced from his sixth-starting position and into the lead just six laps into the feature, then proceeded to glide his way through heavy traffic throughout the duration to win a non-stop, green-to-checker 30-lap main event that ran to completion in a staggering six minutes and 14.69 seconds in his Kyle Larson Racing/HendrickCars.com – FloRacing/Eagle.
“It was fun to go 30 laps non-stop,” Larson acknowledged. “That was pretty intense from my seat. Traffic was crazy and I was watching the board and trying to peek back when I could. I felt like I was putting together good laps. You just don’t know for sure when you get stuck like that.”
Larson’s win was the 26th of his USAC National Midget career, moving him past Darren Hagen, Parnelli Jones and Dave Strickland for sole possession of 17th place on the all-time list.
Three separate rain delays disrupted the evening and rain arrived again after the conclusion of the main event.
Series point leader Logan Seavey started from the pole and led the initial five ahead of fellow front row starter Taylor Reimer.
A bit further back, Larson slung his ride to the outside and kept his wheel affixed there as he paraded around the outside of Justin Grant, Gavin Miller and Buddy Kofoid in rapid-fire succession. Encountering daylight on the bottom, Larson took the opportunity to drive underneath Reimer at the exit of turn four on lap five to take second.
All it took was one more lap for Larson to sail around the outside of Seavey in turn two for the lead, and from there, the war was focused on lapped traffic as Larson set a torrid pace.
“I knew my car was going to be good and I felt really good in the heat race too,” Larson acknowledged. “I just needed to clean some things up. The track was in-between, and we didn’t know what it was going to do with all the rain coming and going and tilling it and all that. When they reworked it before the semi, I could tell that the bottom wasn’t quite that good early, so I was just going to commit to the top and try and get some momentum built. The car just got through the holes well compared to everybody else. That allowed me to move around.”
Larson finished off his trouncing of the 24-car field by a 2.564-second margin over Seavey, Buddy Kofoid and Jade Avedisian with Reimer rounding out the top five.
Despite Larson’s victory in the same chassis a couple years prior, by and large, the car was a handful and didn’t produce the type of results night-in and night-out that they expected at the time. In 2023, it’s “so far, so good” with the car handling to perfection and ably maneuvering around every encounter on his way to victory with a crew led by ace wrench Paul Silva.
“We struggled with this thing a couple of years ago when we ran the west coast swing, the Chili Bowl and all that,” Larson recalled. “My car felt really good there; I could get through the holes really good, and I felt like we improved on it each time we hit the racetrack. It feels special after struggling with this thing a couple of years ago to come out and be that much better than the field. Logan’s been dominating the season, and I was able to pass him for the lead. Buddy, Grant, Reimer, everybody up there, they’re really good midget racers. To come in and win the first night out, it feels really great.”
The top-four finishers all represented the state of California at their home state track.
USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Championship, Placerville Speedway, Placerville, Calif., Nov. 17, 2023
FIRST HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING GROUP: 1. Taylor Reimer, 25K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.212; 2. Logan Seavey, 57, Abacus-12.234; 3. Chase Johnson, 31, Beilman-12.293; 4. Thomas Meseraull, 7x, Engler-12.300; 5. Mitchel Moles, 19T, Reinbold/Underwood-12.308; 6. Emerson Axsom, 68, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.453; 7. Mariah Ede, 71E, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.495; 8. Jake Andreotti, 00, Davis-12.691; 9. Caden Sarale, 14T, Graunstadt/Streeter-12.731.
SECOND HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING GROUP: 1. Buddy Kofoid, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.296; 2. Corey Day, 4, Kahne-12.388; 3. Braden Chiaramonte, 14J, Graunstadt/Streeter-12.407; 4. Daison Pursley, 19, Reinbold/Underwood-12.425; 5. Jade Avedisian, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.469; 6. Cannon McIntosh, 86, CBI-12.945; 7. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-13.148; 8. Blake Bower, 9, Boscacci-13.275; 9. Kyle Beilman, 31B, Beilman-13.554.
THIRD HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING GROUP: 1. Justin Grant, 2, RMS-12.198; 2. Jacob Denney, 25, Malloy-12.262; 3. Gavin Miller, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.299; 4. Carson Macedo, 99AU, Dyson-12.406; 5. David Gasper, 73, Ford-12.438; 6. Ryan Timms, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.552; 7. Hayden Reinbold, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-12.584; 8. Bryant Wiedeman, 81, CBI-12.684; 9. Landon Brooks, 57w, Wood-12.753.
FOURTH HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING GROUP: 1. Kyle Larson, 1K, Larson-12.107; 2. Spencer Bayston, 9AU, Dyson-12.158; 3. Tanner Carrick, 98, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.172; 4. Jesse Love, 84, CBI-12.187; 5. Chris Windom, 89, CBI-12.218; 6. Tanner Thorson, 88, Thorson-12.299; 7. Brody Fuson, 51, Carlile-12.485; 8. Shane Golobic, 17w, Wood-12.568; 9. Chance Crum, 68w, Six8-12.679.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, winner + top-4 in points transfer to the feature) 1. Emerson Axsom (T), 2. Mitchel Moles (T), 3. Thomas Meseraull (T), 4. Jake Andreotti, 5. Logan Seavey (T), 6. Taylor Reimer (T), 7. Chase Johnson, 8. Mariah Ede, 9. Caden Sarale. 2:06.71
ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, winner + top-4 in points transfer to the feature) 1. Cannon McIntosh (T), 2. Jade Avedisian (T), 3. Blake Bower, 4. Daison Pursley (T), 5. Buddy Kofoid (T), 6. Braden Chiaramonte, 7. Corey Day (T), 8. Shannon McQueen, 9. Kyle Beilman. NT
T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, winner + top-4 in points transfer to the feature) 1. Jacob Denney (T), 2. Ryan Timms (T), 3. Gavin Miller (T), 4. Hayden Reinbold (T), 5. Justin Grant (T), 6. Landon Brooks, 7. Bryant Wiedeman, 8. Carson Macedo, 9. David Gasper. NT
CAR IQ FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, winner + top-4 in points transfer to the feature) 1. Shane Golobic (T), 2. Tanner Carrick (T), 3. Tanner Thorson (T), 4. Brody Fuson, 5. Kyle Larson (T), 6. Spencer Bayston (T), 7. Jesse Love, 8. Chance Crum, 9. Chris Windom. 2:03.09
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Braden Chiaramonte, 2. Brody Fuson, 3. Jake Andreotti, 4. Carson Macedo, 5. Chase Johnson, 6. Chris Windom, 7. Bryant Wiedeman, 8. Jesse Love, 9. Mariah Ede, 10. Chance Crum, 11. Landon Brooks, 12. David Gasper, 13. Shannon McQueen, 14. Kyle Beilman, 15. Caden Sarale, 16. Blake Bower.
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Larson (6), 2. Logan Seavey (1), 3. Buddy Kofoid (4), 4. Jade Avedisian (12), 5. Taylor Reimer (2), 6. Gavin Miller (3), 7. Jacob Denney (8), 8. Justin Grant (5), 9. Tanner Carrick (7), 10. Spencer Bayston (14), 11. Shane Golobic (18), 12. Cannon McIntosh (13), 13. Ryan Timms (16), 14. Emerson Axsom (11), 15. Mitchel Moles (10), 16. Tanner Thorson (17), 17. Carson Macedo (23), 18. Brody Fuson (24), 19. Daison Pursley (15), 20. Jake Andreotti (22), 21. Corey Day (21), 22. Braden Chiaramonte (20), 23. Hayden Reinbold (19), 24. Thomas Meseraull (9). 6:14.69