Larson Earns Runner-Up Finish in Inaugural Truck Race at Eldora Speedway

Kyle Larson entered the inaugural Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway as a favorite to win after sweeping the Four Car Nationals at the 0.5-mile dirt track in 2011 and earning a win in his only other NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start this season. Larson did not disappoint, laying down the fastest time in the first practice session. He lined up fifth in the third heat race and finished third, putting him 13th on the starting grid for the main event. Larson immediately began working his way to the front, taking over the top spot on lap 39. The 20-year-old led 51 laps but came up just short at Eldora, finishing in the second position.


Larson was fast right off the bat in the No. 30 Clorox Chevy, laying down the fastest time of the entire weekend in his ninth lap of first practice. He went on to collect the third-best time in second practice and the ninth-quickest time in final practice. Larson went out last in qualifying, and qualified 23rd on the very slick track. He lined up fifth in the third heat, needing to beat the No. 5 and No. 68 machines, which lined up second and third, respectively, to earn a spot in the 150-lap feature race. Larson was able to do just that, finishing third in his heat, and setting himself up to start 13th in the main event.


When the green flag dropped for the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, Larson began to gain spots immediately, entering the top 10 on lap 3. He continued to pass trucks, moving into the top five on lap 16. He steadily gained positions, and began to stalk the leaders from his third position on lap 20. Despite encountering lapped traffic, the young driver moved into second on lap 35 and took over the top position four laps later. Once in the lead, Larson began to put distance between himself and the rest of the field and radioed to his Clorox team that his Silverado was getting too tight. 10 laps after taking the lead, Larson had built a 3.5-second lead over the second-place truck.


The caution flag was displayed for the first time on lap 55, and Larson asked for more stagger to roll the corner. Crew chief Trent Owens called his driver into the pits under the first segment break at lap 60. The No. 30 Clorox team changed four tires, added fuel and made an adjustment to free up their truck. Larson also asked the team to throw his right rear tire up on the hood so that he could check his tire wear.


On lap 61, Larson restarted in the first position and began to build his lead again, telling his team on lap 75 that he started out too loose after the stop but that his truck had really started to come to him. Larson started encountering heavy lapped traffic a few laps later, and was battling to keep the top spot when the caution flag waved for debris on lap 89. Larson restarted in second on lap 97 and fell to third when the outside line got going quickly. He moved back into second on lap 102 and remained there until the second segment break. Larson again came in to pit for four tires and fuel, restarting in second on lap 113.


The caution was again displayed on lap 115 and Larson restarted in second on lap 124. Again the outside line was the preferred lane, and Larson fell to third. He stayed right with the leaders, and as he took over the top spot again, the caution flag was displayed for debris. The last scoring loop had Larson in second, so he restarted there on lap 146. The final caution waved on lap 148, setting the field up for a green/white/checkered finish. Larson maintained his position on the restart, despite being on the inside line, and finished in the second position.


"I know second is a good finish, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed," explained Larson. "This is one win that I really, really wanted. I've got to thank my Clorox team for all the hard work over the past few days. They gave me a great truck. I just overdrove one corner and got into a lapped car, allowing Austin [Dillon] to get by me. Then I kept having to restart on the bottom, and I just didn't have enough time to get back by him. I think if we would have had a few more caution-free laps at the end, we could have gotten the win."


Larson returns to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he will compete in the No. 32 Cessna Chevrolet Camaro. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN, with coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. EDT.


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Steven B. Wilson

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