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Kyle Larson finishes second to Jonathan Davenport in the Wild West Shootout

Larson Wild West Shootout

With a worst finish of sixth and five top-fives over six nights of racing, Kyle Larson was one of two dominant drivers in the 2023 Wild West Shootout at Vado (New Mexico) Speedway Park. Jonathan Davenport also had five top-fives and a sixth, but with wins in the first three nights, he scored more points.

Larson entered the Wild West Shootout after choosing to skip the Chili Bowl Nationals this year, a race that was won by Logan Seavey.

He failed to win one of the six A-Mains but Larson earned three second-place finishes behind three different drivers. He was there to challenge Davenport on Night 2 and finished behind Mike Marlar on Night 5. Those same drivers led laps in the finale, which was held Sunday night with Bobby Pierce getting his second of two victories and Larson earning a consecutive runner-up result.

“That was the most fun late model race I have ever been a part of,” Larson said at after the final night of racing. “There were more lead changes in one race than there are all season. Literally from start to finish, it was a battle between Bobby [Pierce] and [Jonathan Davenport] and Marlar – and Stormy [Scott] was there.

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There were seven lead changes Sunday night between Pierce, Davenport and Marlar.

“I wish we would have gotten to Victory Lane at least once,” Larson continued. “I don’t even know if we led a lap, but we were right there for a lot of them.”

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Three second-place finishes ensured fans recognized Larson’s ability in a dirt late model, a style of racing that is still relatively new to a driver who developed his craft in sprints and midgets. Over the past two years, he has amassed at five late model wins in three major series with two in the World of Outlaws Late Models, two in the Castrol Series and one in the XR Super Series.

At Vado Speedway in the Wild West Shootout, Larson won heat races on the first and last night of competition to bookmark his solid run.

But the most impressive race of the weekend may well have come in Night 4 when he was wrecked by a lapped car in his heat. The damage pushed him into the B-Main, where he finished second before coming through the field to finish fourth in the Feature.