Larson Bests Castrol FloRacing Night in America Field at Brownstown
BROWNSTOWN, Ind. (May 12) — Most leaders aren’t excited about getting a side-by-side challenge. But for Kyle Larson on Wednesday night in his debut at Brownstown Speedway, Tanner English’s threat proved to help Larson find a way to win.
The 28-year-old NASCAR and open-wheel star from Elk Grove, Calif., regained the lead from English on the 25th lap around the quarter-mile oval and edged away for a $10,000 victory in the third round of the fledgling Castrol FloRacing Night in America tour.
The inside-running English slipped ahead after a lap-23 restart to grab the lead after a few bobbles by Larson, but being forced to run outside helped him find “the middle (groove) and just kind of carried momentum through the center,” Larson said. “Had I not screwed up and had to battle him side-by-side, I’d have probably kept ripping the top or something, and made a mistake, or let him just get by because I didn’t have good grip off of (turn) four.”
The eighth-starting English couldn’t keep up the rest of the 40-lapper in finishing 1.736 seconds behind while Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., who started alongside English on the fourth row, finished third. Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., was fourth in his first race of the season in his family-owned No. B5 while front-row starter Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., was fifth in debuting a new Capital Race Car.
Larson was thrilled to continue his progress in Late Models in the K&L Rumley Enterprises No. 6 as he added his third victory in just a handful of career starts going back to last season.
“I’m very thankful that I somehow got linked together with Kevin Rumley,” Larson said. “I really don’t even know how it happened. Just very thankful. So thanks to Kevin.”
The victory came with some emotions for Rumley, whose late father Lee Roy operated the team for more than 50 years and famously built some of the sport’s most powerful engines. Larson’s car was powered by a former Rumley engine freshened by Cornett Racing Engines of Somerset, Ky.
“This means so much for the Rumley family to take one of his old engines that (former driver Jonathan) Davenport won a lot of money with,” Kevin Rumley said. “Jack (Cornett) updated it and we needed a spare and it really got us out of a bind, so from the grave, he’s definitely looking out for us.”
Larson got the jump at the outset and primarily used the high side through the early stages with Marlar holding the second spot for the first 18 laps. Sheppard briefly took second from Marlar on laps 19-20, but the charging English went underneath both of them and found himself in second when a lap-23 yellow flew just after Larson dropped to the low groove himself.
Then Larson got a poor start, struggling to maneuver turns two and four while English went underneath to lead lap 24. But giving up the inside groove, Larson stayed higher on the track, occasionally flirting with the extreme high-side berms at the wall-less racetrack while finding a faster way around.
Despite briefly slipping ahead, English didn’t have an answer for Larson.
“He was quick. I kind of wish he’d stay in NASCAR and beat up on them guys. But he’s a good driver, no doubt, he’s the real deal,” English said. “That’s a great car, you know. Rumley builds a great car, but he’s a driver for sure and adapts well and it pretty amazing to watch.”
Davenport was fortunate to improve four positions from his starting spot, he said.
“I probably had a fifth-place car. We just got lucky and had a caution there toward the end. We went a little softer on tire — we gambled a little bit,” he said. “We’ve been trying some new stuff with the car, and I just had my left-front way too far up in the air, and I couldn't really rotate getting in (the corners).”
Two cautions slowed the action, the first on lap-nine when Josh Rice spin as he battled Ricky Thornton Jr. in the top five. The second yellow appeared on lap 23 when Shelby Miles slipped over the turn-four banking.
Thirty-three cars entered the third of 10 scheduled Castrol FloRacing Night in America programs. Larson set fast time with a lap of 12.942 seconds and was one of four heat winners, joining Sheppard, Marlar and Ricky Thornton Jr. The B-mains were captured by Hudson O’Neal and David Webb.
The Castrol FloRacing Night in America midweek continues on May 19 with a $10,000-to-win event at Marshalltown (Iowa) Speedway.
Castrol FloRacing Night in America feature finish (40 laps): 1. Kyle Larson, 2. Tanner English, 3. Jonathan Davenport, 4. Brandon Sheppard, 5. Mike Marlar, 6. Tyler Erb, 7. Devin Moran, 8. Darrell Lanigan, 9. Kent Robinson, 10. Bobby Pierce, 11. Scott James, 12. Hudson O’Neal, 13. Boom Briggs, 14. Ryan King, 15. Billy Moyer Jr., 16. Ricky Thornton Jr., 17. Keegan Cox, 18. Shelby Miles, 19. David Webb, 20. Devin Gilpin, 21. Josh Rice, 22. Jared Bailey.
First heat finish (8 laps) : Kyle Larson, Billy Moyer Jr., Tyler Erb, Bobby Pierce, Hudson O'Neal, Jared Bailey, Jason Jameson, Kody Marsee.
Second heat finish (8 laps): Brandon Sheppard, Jonathan Davenport, Kent Robinson, Scott James, Darrell Lanigan, Anthony Kinkade, Mark Robbins, Skyller Lewis.
Third heat finish (8 laps): Mike Marlar, Josh Rice, Shelby Miles, Keegan Cox, Boom Briggs, Michael Wesselman, Ryan King.
Fourth heat (8 laps): Ricky Thornton Jr., Tanner English, Devin Moran, Devin Gilpin, David Webb, Larry Greer, Britan Godsey.
First B-main finish (10 laps): Hudson O'Neal, Darrell Lanigan, Jared Bailey, Anthony Kinkade, Jason Jameson, Mark Robbins, Skyller Lewis.
Second B-main finish (10 laps): David Webb, Boom Briggs, Ryan King, Michael Wesselman, Larry Greer, Britan Godsey, Brayton Laster.
Hoosier Tire Drawing Winners: Kent Robinson, Anthony Kinkade
$150 Cash Drawing Recipients: Jason Jameson, Tanner English
Any questions regarding Castrol® FloRacing Night in America and its events can be directed toward series general manager Ben Shelton at email@example.com or 901-335-3037.
For more information on Castrol® FloRacing Night in America sponsors, visit the company websites at www.castrol.com; www.renegaderacefuel.com; www.keysermanufacturing.com/brand/integra-racing-shocks-springs; www.pitstopusa.com; www.pfcbrakes.com; www.buzzeracing.com; www.arizonasportshirts.com; and www.hoosiertire.com.
For complete details regarding Castrol® FloRacing Night in America, please visit the series landing page at www.flosports.tv/castrolfloracingnightinamerica/