by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

Kyle Larson keeps adding to his Eldora legacy, this time in a late model. Not quite a year after he won his first Kings Royal, he beat down the strong 49 car field at Eldora Speedway for their 69th season opener for a nice $22,022 payday. After an inch of rain the day prior, and a new surface, Eldora was rough and heavy, something we don’t see too often, and it played into Larson’s hands. 

Defending World 100 champion Jonathan Davenport and Larson led the field to green of the 30 lap feature, with Brandon Overton and Brandon Sheppard in tow. Davenport got the early advantage over Larson, and Larson and Overton had a brief battle for second. On lap two, Larson got the lead from Davenport, but Davenport battled back as the yellow flew for Shannon Babb. 

“Starting on the bottom is not where you want to be here. Jonathan was able to get the jump on me,” Larson said. 

On the ensuing restart, Overton got under Larson for second and they were nose to tail for the rest of the lap. On lap four, Larson and Overton were side-by-side for second, but it was Larson who was able to get by Overton for good. Overton started falling back soon after Larson got by. 

“The next restart, I chose the top and didn’t take off very good. I got tight behind Jonathan and then Brandon got by. I was able to get back by Brandon quickly by diamonding the corner and got across the holes good. When I caught Jonathan, I did the same thing but in turns one and two. My car was really good and it allowed me to move around,” said Larson.

Davenport enjoyed a .811 lead on lap six, but it wouldn’t last long. Larson made quick work of Davenport’s lead, slashing a half second off in a lap, and then on lap seven, Larson made the move for the lead. As Larson worked through traffic, he built a .794 second lead by lap ten, but a yellow came out for Daulton Wilson. 

The lap ten restart was all Kyle Larson. He rocketed out to a .762 second lead, and built it up to 1.110 seconds on lap 12 and added another half second the next lap. At the halfway point, Larson had a comfortable 2.113 second lead, and it was a whopping six seconds back to Kyle Strickler in third.

“I didn’t know if my lead was big or not,” admitted Larson, “I was going to run as hard as I could just because I didn’t know if he [Davenport] was close or not.”

Then, Larson went into full beatdown mode. With twelve circuits left, Larson had a 2.090 second lead, which was 2.443 seconds two laps later. With eight to go, the lead was 3.113 seconds as Larson made his way through traffic masterfully. The lead kept building until there were two laps remaining, and Larson was chasing down Overton, this time to lap him. Larson’s 5.172 second lead was wiped out, though as third running Strickler blew a tire. 

“I saw Brandon and I was honestly shocked. I thought that he must’ve dropped back a lot and was running thirteenth or fourteenth, but when the caution came out, I saw that he was in fourth and we were lapping a lot of cars. But I don’t think there were a lot of cars left on track. We were setting a really good pace, it was aggressive and I’m thankful that the car held up,” Larson said. 

Nothing changed on the restart, and Larson ran away with the win over Davenport and Overton. Larson is one of two multi-time winners in the FloRacing Night in America series as they head to Brownstown Speedway in Indiana Wednesday night for another $22,022 to win show. 

“It was a lot of fun, my car was really good and could get through the holes better than anyone, and better than I ever have. Kevin has been working really hard, and we’ve been struggling when the tracks are slick. Obviously it wasn’t slick tonight, but it feels good to get a win and get all our confidence up,” race winner Kyle Larson said. 

In other news, it was Tyler Courtney’s first late model show, and it was an impressive debut. He qualified tenth in his group, and finished fifth in his heat, missing out on the transfer by one spot. He then ran away with BMain one, which put him in the 17th starting position. Through good racing and attrition, Sunshine ended up with a ninth place finish in his late model debut. Not bad. Don’t be surprised if he makes some noise in the Eldora Million in a month and a half.