PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. – As if winning from 14th less than 24 hours earlier wasn’t enough of a challenge, Kyle Larson went one better during Thursday’s Indiana Midget Week round at Lincoln Park Speedway.
Larson took his incredible dirt-track winning streak one step closer to absurd levels after his third score in three nights with the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series, racing forward from 15th and topping a torrid three-way battle for the lead during the second half of the 30-lap Lincoln Park feature.
Going where few others dared to run, Larson found a groove right against the steep outside curb in turns three and four of the five-sixteenths-mile, using the momentum he found there to decimate the competition.
Larson came from the eighth row to run third by the halfway point, then rallied past both Cannon McIntosh and leader Tanner Thorson as the laps wound down Thursday night.
The Elk Grove, Calif., native drove away after that, surviving a three-lap dash to the finish and ultimately collecting his 22nd career USAC national midget win by 1.285 seconds over Thorson.
Thursday night’s heroics marked Larson’s eighth victory in as many starts over a 12-day period, encompassing time with the All Star Circuit of Champions, World of Outlaws and USAC.
It was also his 10th midget win in a row on U.S. soil, dating back to the Hangtown 100 finale at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway in November of 2019 and including the Chili Bowl Nationals in January.
But as effortless as Larson’s run through the field appeared – again – this time he marveled a bit when reflecting on his latest accomplishment.
“To come from 15th like that on a super technical race track is very special to me,” Larson said. “I had a good line working in three and four. People would enter in and turn across, and I felt like I could run above the cushion the whole way and be good. It got some holes developing over there, so it was a little tricky, but we were fast.”
Larson was buried in the lineup after qualifying ninth, missing the heat transfer and having to race in from the B-main for the second night in a row, so while he was finding space to pass cars and move forward, others took their turns at the front of the field.
Cannon McIntosh led the field off from the pole, leading the opening nine laps despite heavy pressure and several intense slide jobs from fourth-starting Tanner Thorson.
Thorson found his way to second by the end of the first lap, pitching a deep dive into turn three on McIntosh the next time through, but McIntosh cut back underneath Thorson to hold serve by a nose.
A second verse of that chorus repeated itself on lap seven, with the same end result, as McIntosh held the lead across the start/finish line. However, on the 10th rotation, Thorson finally found enough steam to stay even with McIntosh down the backstretch, completing the pass in turn four to take command.
McIntosh tried to return the favor coming to complete lap 11 and nearly did so, but the loss of momentum allowed Thorson to pull out to a bigger lead approaching halfway.
All the while, Larson was coming. He pitched his No. 86 four-wide in turns three and four with one of the most-daring sliders of the night at lap 13, clearing a trio of challengers – Buddy Kofoid, Chris Windom and Zach Daum – in one shot to go from sixth to third.
After that, Larson got the break he needed in the form of a lap-16 red flag, when 11th-running Jason McDougal got upside down atop the banking in turns three and four. That erased a 3.3-second deficit from him to the top two and set up the final dash to the checkered flag.
It took two tries, with Larson passing McIntosh for second only to see the move negated by a caution for the spinning Kevin Thomas Jr. one lap after the restart, but Larson eventually got to second off a near two-for-one move in turn four that saw him come just short of edging Thorson on the 18th revolution.
A second banzai attempt in the fourth corner on lap 21 saw Thorson again just get back ahead of Larson at the stripe, but with nine laps left Thorson’s car bobbled exiting turn two and opened up the low lane for Larson – who took full advantage, slid to the lead on the 22nd lap and never looked back after that.
Not even a caution with three to go, after Larson’s World of Outlaws driver – Carson Macedo – had an engine expire on the backstretch, could keep the dirt-track ace out of victory lane yet again.
“I felt like, when I slid Tanner and Cannon a couple times in three and four, I could actually make up ground, and they would only get to my inside,” recalled Larson. “I felt like if I just ran that line the last few laps, I could carry enough speed to the exit that they wouldn’t have a run to get to my back bumper inside down the front stretch.
“(I had) just a really great car once again,” added Larson of his Tucker/Boat Motorsports mount. “(It’s) cool to be the first to win three Indiana Midget Week races (in a week), and in a row too; that’s special. Hopefully, there’s many more the rest of the week. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Thorson came up second to Larson for the second time in three races, with McIntosh hanging on to complete the podium. Windom and Shane Golobic crossed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Daum, Justin Grant, Chase Johnson, Buddy Kofoid and Clinton Boyles closed the top 10 at the finish.
Despite Larson’s third-straight win, Thorson actually trimmed one point off Larson’s Indiana Midget week lead, with the gap between them standing at 10 at the halfway point of the mini-series.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.