ROSSBURG, Ohio — Erasing the false narrative of his struggles in the sport’s biggest races, Kyle Larson finally secured his first World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series crown jewel victory — a $175,000 payday at the 37th Kings Royal Saturday night at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.
The Elk Grove, Calif., native overcame countless hurdles to earn the biggest dirt win of his career. First, there was the logistics of making his trip happen with the NASCAR Cup Series racing on Sunday in New Hampshire; second, things went south for Larson when he flipped during the afternoon’s last chance race and damaged the car; third, he started ninth, with eight of the best sprint car drivers in the world ahead of him.
By the halfway point, Larson had clawed his way to the top as he passed leaders Tyler Courtney and James McFadden. Aboard the Paul Silva-owned Finley Farms, JVI Group, HendrickCars.com No. 57, Larson controlled the second half of the race and earned his first Kings Royal crown in his first appearance in the race.
“This is unbelievable,” Larson uttered. “This year has been so up-and-down, I didn’t think we’d be in victory lane after that flip. It’s just awesome to win a crown jewel in general.”
A crown jewel, indeed. While Saturday was Larson’s first attempt at the Kings Royal, the 28-year-old superstar has previously finished second at both the Knoxville Nationals and the National Open. He fell short each time, as the question arose more and more often.
Coming from ninth, Larson proved Saturday was no fluke by taking the $175,000 score with a beaten and battered car from his Last Chance Showdown crash in the afternoon. Ironically enough, the crash is what Larson claims best prepared him for this evening. “
“I really think it was good for me to watch that Feature,” Larson explained. “I tried to simulate there what I saw earlier in the day, and it just didn’t work out.”
He made his way to the lead on lap 20 of 40, following a spirited battle for command between Tyler Courtney and James McFadden. Ultimately, Larson came out on top of a three-wide battle and assumed the lead on a restart, a lead he would never give back.”
“Overall, it was Larson’s 22nd career World of Outlaws feature win, and then came the royal ceremony which made him the 37th King.
“It was just a bad week all around,” said Larson. A speeding penalty haunted him in the NASCAR Cup Series, then he spun out and never completed a lap of the Brad Doty Classic, and then there was his rough flip into turns and two.
“I can’t thank Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon, Cliff Daniels, etc. enough for believing in me and supporting my dirt program. The atmosphere here tonight was unreal.”
Joining Larson on the podium was a quickly-closing Sheldon Haudenschild in the NOS Energy Drink No. 17 and Carson Macedo with another career-best Kings Royal finish of third.
Afternoon winner Tyler Courtney and Brad Sweet rounded out the top five.