PLYMOUTH, Wis. – Seven months through the 2020 season, Kyle Larson winning a major-league dirt track race has become about as sure an occurrence in life as death or taxes.
Thursday night, Larson’s latest score came during the second annual Rayce Rudeen Foundation Race, the opening act of a four-race weekend for the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions.
In his first appearance at the Plymouth Dirt Track, Larson stormed past polesitter and early leader Gio Scelzi in heavy traffic on lap 12, then fended off a hard-charging Kerry Madsen during the middle stages.
Larson eventually pulled away down the stretch for his 11th win in 17 All Star appearances this year, taking the checkered flag in front of Madsen by 2.355 seconds in the Silva Motorsports No. 57.
It was his 26th overall victory between sprint cars and midgets this year, as well as the sixth-straight All Star start that Larson has ended up celebrating as the winner. He banked $26,000 for his win Thursday.
“This feels really good,” said Larson in victory lane. “I had to earn it, for sure. The track was extremely technical and a lot of fun. The curb was just not going anywhere and it was getting trickier and trickier to run. The lappers were all so even that I couldn’t get by for the longest time, but I was able to follow Sunshine (Tyler Courtney) past a few guys, so that helped.
“I was just making a lot of mistakes, but the track was tough, so I didn’t know how close second was to me,” Larson added. “Once I got past Tyler, though, I felt like I got a good rhythm going again and lapped some pretty decent cars there toward the end. We just had a really good car tonight. It’s not often that you get to chase this kind of money in sprint cars – especially this year – so thanks to the Rudeen family and what they’ve done for this race. It’s really cool.”
Though the 35-lap main event at the third-mile Sheboygan County Fairgrounds dirt track took three tries to get going, once racing finally got underway it was Scelzi jumping from the bottom lane out into the early lead over Larson – who was put three-wide for second down the backstretch on lap one.
Larson quickly shook Dominic Scelzi and Cory Eliason, but by the end of lap two, Gio Scelzi had opened up more than a second’s lead over the Elk Grove, Calif., native at the head of the field.
Buckling down, Larson ate into Scelzi’s lead by the time the duo reached the back of the field on lap eight, shaving a margin of nearly two seconds down into car lengths by catfishing around the bottom.
On lap 12, the inside berm paid off, as Larson slid the younger Scelzi for the top spot in turn four and edged him out at the flagstand before taking command for good in turn one.
But while Gio Scelzi faded, Madsen was coming in a hurry with the Big Game Motorsports No. 2.
Madsen snagged a podium position on lap 15 before dispatching Scelzi for second two laps later, and by 15 to go, it appeared he might have a shot at being one of the rare few to actually defeat Larson in 2020.
But Larson finally put those thoughts to rest with a thrilling three-wide pass of a pair of lap cars on lap 28, powering away from there and leaving the elder Madsen brother to settle for the runner-up honors.
Gio Scelzi completed the podium ahead of his older brother, Dominic Scelzi, and the Rudeen Racing No. 26 of Cory Eliason.
Paul McMahan, Zeb Wise, Parker Price-Miller, Cale Thomas and Josh Baughman closed the top 10.
On the initial green-flag attempt, sixth-starting Austin McCarl got airborne and flipped heavily into the catchfence in turn two before his No. 17a came to rest. McCarl was uninjured and walked away, but damage to the protective fence led to a brief red flag for repairs.
The All Star Circuit of Champions’ quadruple-header weekend continues Friday night at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa.
1. 57-Kyle Larson , 2. 2m-Kerry Madsen , 3. 18-Gio Scelzi , 4. 41s-Dominic Scelzi , 5. 26-Cory Eliason , 6. 13-Paul McMahan , 7. 11-Zeb Wise , 8. 14p-Parker Price-Miller , 9. 70-Cale Thomas , 10. 17-Josh Baughman , 11. 87-Aaron Reutzel , 12. 15h-Sam Hafertepe Jr. , 13. 99-Skylar Gee , 14. 7bc-Tyler Courtney , 15. 5j-Jeremy Schultz , 16. 17b-Bill Balog , 17. 64-Scotty Thiel , 18. 2w-Scotty Neitzel , 19. W20-Greg Wilson , 20. 73-Jake Blackhurst , 21. 4-Terry McCarl , 22. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg , 23. 25-Danny Schlafer , 24. 17a-Austin McCarl .