Dirt racing roundup: Could Kyle Larson win an Outlaws title this year?
Running full time in the World of Outlaws and winning a championship in the sprint car series has been a longtime objective for Kyle Larson.
“NASCAR is where I wanted to make it, but I would have been perfectly fine if I didn’t make it either,” Larson said on a December 2017 episode of the Outlaws’ “Open Red” podcast. “I’d probably be on the Outlaw tour probably right now, racing and loving life. … I would say racing on the World of Outlaws tour full-time is my main goal; NASCAR’s just the step to get there.”
The presumption then was that Larson, who also has said he wanted to race full time with Outlaws before turning 40, would have to wait until his NASCAR career was over.
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But given his recent tear (five victories in seven days across four states last week) while concentrating on sprint cars during his indefinite suspension from NASCAR, the circumstances radically have been altered for Larson.
It still doesn’t change the fact that any shot at an Outlaws would have to wait at least another year.
Though he has a 33% winning percentage in main events he has entered this year (three victories in nine starts), Larson isn’t eligible, according to series rules.
An Outlaws driver must have a full-time platinum agreement with the series and attempt every event (though dispensation can be provided for missing races because of injuries and travel woes).
Though Larson attempted the year’s first eight races (failing to make the main event in the Feb. 7 season opener at Volusia County, Florida), he skipped the June 5-6 doubleheader at Beaver Dam Raceway in Wisconsin.
But even if he were in championship consideration, it would be difficult to make up the lost ground in the standings through a points structure that heavily emphasizes consistency (click here for the distribution by finishing position, which is similar to how NASCAR awarded points before 2011).
Larson is ranked 14th and 400 points behind leader Brad Sweet (the defending series champion and also Larson’s brother in law).
With 49 races currently left (which could be lessened by rainouts or postponements that become cancellations), he would need to make up slightly more than eight points per race on Sweet while also leap-frogging some formidable contenders such as Donny Schatz and Logan Schuchart.
In a schedule already heavily affected by a two-month layoff for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it would be virtually impossible. David Gravel’s season illustrates another reason why.
Despite a victory, five top fives and nine top 10s in 11 starts, the defending Knoxville Nationals champion is ranked eighth in points because he missed the Feb. 8 race at Volusia (Gravel was competing in the ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway). His Outlaws car (which had a replacement driver at Volusia) is ranked fourth in team points.
Larson currently ranks second this season in NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victories behind Sweet (four). If he manages to lead the series in race wins without winning the championship, it wouldn’t be unprecedented.
In 1995, 20-time Outlaws champion Steve Kinser returned to sprint cars after a short-lived stab at the NASCAR Cup Series. Kinser scored 18 victories in 64 starts that season but finished ninth in points (Dave Blaney won the title with 12 victories).
Even if Larson can’t win a championship, coming at “The King” of sprint car racing might be a decent consolation prize.
Even with its namesake out of championship contention, Kyle Larson Racing still has an Outlaws sprint car title shot. Carson Macedo’s No. 2 car is fourth in the standings, 128 points behind Sweet (and with Donny Schatz and Logan Schuchart also ahead of him)
The Outlaws Sprint Car Series will hold a June 19-20 doubleheader at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana, this weekend with Saturday’s race televised live on CBS Sports Network (the first of three consecutive Outlaws weekends on the network).
The series’ Sprint Car and Dirt Late Model series also will be featured in a CBS documentary at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday (the Outlaws’ first appearance on national TV since 1995).
Dominic Scelzi, son of four-time NHRA champion Gary Scelzi, scored his first victory Sunday in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions at Chatham (Louisiana) Speedway.
It was the fifth top five in eight series races for Scelzi, who held off two-time series champion Aaron Reutzel.
“I have one more mark to add to my resume, and that’s an Outlaw win,” said Scelzi, whose younger brother, Gio, is in the Toyota Racing Development TD2 driver development program. “Hopefully we can do that real soon.”
FloSports announced Tuesday morning the acquisition of Speedshift.tv, which streams many grassroots racing events.
The move will add more than 400 races to the streaming platform of FloSports, which broadcasts a full schedule of USAC races as well as events at Eldora Speedway and the Ollie’s All Star Circuit of Champions 410 sprint car series. Combined with DirtonDirt (a subsidiary of FloSports), FloRacing will stream more than 800 racing events annually.
FloSports will begin simulcasting SpeedShift races with the Pennsylvania Sprint Speedway event June 27.