Kyle Larson takes round 2 of Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown
Beats Danny Lasoski, Stevie Smith at Arizona event.
The final scene for Round 2 of the Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown couldn't have been scripted any better.
NASCAR's newest sensation - Kyle Larson - outlasted sprint car veterans Stevie Smith and Danny Lasoski in an epic duel on the dirt Saturday at Cocopah Speedway, which hosts the midpoint of the five-race event next Tuesday.
"It ranks right up there mainly because I haven't been in a sprint car in a long time," Larson said after securing the $12,000-to-win top prize. "To beat Danny Lasoski and Stevie Smith in a duel like that was pretty amazing. I think it's a great event. It's a great race track. The purse is really good. I think this event will grow each year."
Larson chased polesitter Aaron Reutzel for the first half of the 30-lap feature before misfortune struck in Reutzel's second career 410ci sprint car event. After powering to the cushion in turn one on a Lap 16 restart, Reutzel's top wing appeared to buckle, forcing his car out of shape before coming to a stop next to the wall.
That gave Larson the lead, but on the ensuing restart Lasoski executed a slide job in turns one and two to take the top spot. As Larson stayed within striking distance for the next few laps, Smith found grip at the bottom of the track, which started to propel him closer to the front with a dozen laps remaining.
Larson repaid the favor to Lasoski with a slide job for the lead in turns one and two with approximately eight laps remaining. Smith capitalized on Lasoski being slowed down and he vaulted into second place exiting turn two before stealing the lead in turn four.
"I slid (Lasoski) for the lead and I thought if I could clear him I'd be ok and then Stevie was to my inside and slid me in the next corner," Larson said. "It was kinda game on from there. He was really good on the bottom and I was pretty good up top."
Smith and Larson nearly touched in turn two the following lap before the final six circuits were tight in traffic.
Larson moved around Smith on the backstretch with six laps remaining before Smith regained the lead in turn four.
Three laps later Larson slid Smith in turns three and four, but the veteran remained within a car length before throwing a last-ditch slide job of his own in turns three and four coming to the checkered flag. Larson stayed in the throttle on the cushion to power around Smith exiting the final turn of the race.
'He didn't give up'
"It was a lot of fun," Smith said. "We really wanted to win that race, but Kyle just, he didn't give up and he earned it. We were just going back and forth and kinda just going where the other car wasn't. When you get down to those last couple of laps and everybody is side by side you're just going where the opening is and just feeling your way around."
Lasoski finished third to mark his second straight podium result. He ranks third in the unofficial Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown points standings - only three markers behind Smith and fourth-place finisher Joey Saldana.
"I hope the fans enjoyed it," Lasoski said. "The track crew did a great job. We had options. If your car was good and your mechanics did their job and the drivers did their job you could put on a great show and I think the fans saw that."
David Gravel rounded out the top five. Ryan Smith rallied from 19th to a sixth-place result to earn the Hard Charger Award. Christopher Bell ended seventh and Craig Dollansky was eighth. Paul McMahan, the B Main winner and Friday's inaugural Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown victor, maneuvered from 17th to ninth place with Dale Blaney finishing 10th.
NASCAR star Kasey Kahne missed recording his second straight top-10 result by one position.
Smith, Gravel, Reutzel and Bell won heat races with Kahne, Steve Kinser, Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Reutzel picking up qualifier wins.
The Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown continues next Tuesday with Opening Ceremonies at 7 p.m. Fans can order live Pay-Per-View video by visiting http://www.SPEEDSPORT.tv/live.
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