TALLADEGA, Ala. – Kyle Larson may have arrived at Talladega Superspeedway focused on his regular duties in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but that didn’t stop him from talking about dirt racing as well.
Larson dished on the recent announcement that he’ll drive his own midget during the upcoming Hangtown 100 USAC National Midget Series race at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway in November, a newly-minted crown jewel for the discipline that was the brainchild of Elk Grove Ford’s Matt Wood.
The Elk Grove, Calif., native launched his career with the Toyota Racing midget program through Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, winning 15 USAC national midget features with KKM over the years, including both the 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway and the Belleville Midget Nationals in 2011.
Now, Larson is hoping that striking out on his own will lead to additional successes and new memories.
“I’ve actually run my own midget now twice,” noted Larson. “But I ran for Keith for so long and have had a lot of success with him and a lot of fun; I’m just at the point in my career now where I already own my own sprint car, so why not own my own midget, you know? I’m not owning it for other people to race, but it’s just fun to have that project for myself.
“Midget racing just seems a little lower key than sprint car racing, and I thought it’d be a cool deal.”
Larson’s sprint car team manager, Paul Silva, will be working on his midget as well, according to the driver.
“Paul’s never actually worked on a midget before, so he had a lot of fun building that car,” Larson said, a faint smile on his face. “He said it was the nicest car he’s ever built. It’s certainly been quick so far.”
Quick might be a bit of an understatement. Dominant may be the better word, considering that Larson’s No. 1k has raced twice at the Placerville quarter mile and won both times.
It’s a big deal for Larson, who hopes that he can supplant his former team when he heads home to California following the conclusion of the NASCAR season.
Though the Hangtown 100 is a new event, KKM-prepared cars have won the last five runnings of the Turkey Night Grand Prix, the West Coast’s longstanding midget-car crown jewel held just over a week after the Placerville special.
Larson hopes to end that run of dominance, while savoring the experience along the way.
“I’m just mainly trying to try to get laps on it and learn what we can,” Larson said of his new car. “It was a totally different package from what Keith runs … a different chassis, different shocks, different wheels, I mean, everything’s different.
“At the end of the day, though, I think it’ll be a fun venture to try and him beat him with.”