No matter how many times you witness it, Kyle Larson’s late-race heroics never fail to completely mesmerize the senses.
On Sunday night at California’s Placerville Speedway, the Elk Grove, Calif. native once again dazzled down the stretch as he charged from his 16th starting position and into the lead on lap 93 of the 100-lap main event before pacing the final eight circuits en route to victory at the Hangtown 100.
For Larson, it was his second USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship triumph of the weekend at his home track of Placerville as he became the first two-time winner of the event after also scoring the inaugural edition back in 2019.
Furthermore, Larson also became the first driver to earn a second overall Hangtown 100 points championship, which he also previously achieved in 2019. His collective efforts throughout the weekend earned him an overall payday of $25,500.
Larson’s 27th career USAC National Midget feature victory in his Kyle Larson Racing/HendrickCars.com – FloRacing/Eagle tied him for the 15th on the all-time series win list alongside USAC Hall of Famers Gary Bettenhausen and Tony Stewart.
With points being top of mind throughout the weekend at the 1/4-mile dirt oval, the accumulation of each and every tally determined the starting lineup for the longest race on the series circuit in 2023. With Larson being the high point driver leading into Sunday’s feature, a 16-pill was randomly drawn, meaning Larson would start 16th on the grid.
Meanwhile Corey Day and Ryan Timms occupied the front row with Timms getting the initial upper hand which he utilized to lead the opening 14 laps. However, their fun at the front soon unraveled when the tail-end lead lap cars of Jesse Love and Landon Brooks spun sideways in turns three and four, which collected both Timms and Day in the incident as they all came to a stop to bring out the first yellow.
Mitchel Moles assumed his new role up front as the race leader coming back to the 15th lap restart. Soon thereafter, 2021 Hangtown 100 winner Justin Grant glided by Moles in turn three, then fended him off at the stripe to take over up front on lap 18.
Grant immediately opened his advantage up to 1.4 seconds until lap 27 when Thomas Meseraull (14th) got caught atop the turn one and two cushion, which sent him barrel rolling, and ultimately, out of the race. Meseraull walked away but was finished for the evening with a 27th place result.
By lap 44, Larson found himself firmly in the thick of the hunt in fourth, but nearly wound up in a precarious position as he hopped several times atop the turn three cushion, dropping him back to sixth and allowing Seavey and Golobic to flash on by for fourth and fifth, respectively. Although the distance was 100 laps with a brief break in between, the pace of the race was always “go time” according to Larson.
“Honestly, I was trying to go as hard as I could the whole time,” Larson explained. “I got stuck really early on in the race. The track was still kind of narrow at that point. Once I got by, I was able to get to fifth or sixth pretty quickly, then got to fourth and hopped really badly and gave up like three spots before the open red. I knew that was going to hurt my chances getting to the lead, but I felt like I could’ve got to the lead much earlier had I not made that mistake. Then I had to work really hard after that.”
Moments before the halfway point, on lap 49, Taylor Reimer (10th) flipped over in turn one, bringing out a red flag that coincided with the pre-scheduled mid-race break for teams to refuel, check air pressure, etc., etc. and perform any activity on their car as long as the tires didn’t leave the ground.
Emerging at the forefront during the ensuing laps following “halftime” was Seavey who restarted fourth and methodically picked his way past Spencer Bayston for third, Mitchel Moles for second and then Justin Grant with an outside turn one maneuver for the lead in rapid-fire succession by lap 58.
“(Logan) really turned the wick up there after the break,” Larson acknowledged. “I was struggling there after the open red, so I had to get up on the wheel there. The lanes got dominant after the break. The top got really fast in three and four. One and two was kind of confusing, but the middle got slowed down enough, we could finally roll the top.”
Moments earlier, Gavin Miller (5th) tried the diamond maneuver off the top rope in turn three, but as he drove down the banking, he collided with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Jade Avedisian (6th), popping her car up into the air before landing back down. On lap 58, Avedisian suddenly slowed on the back straight. The trailing car of Chase Johnson ramped over her left side wheels at full speed, sending both drivers flipping. Avedisian was miraculously able to restart and finished 13th while Johnson was finished for the evening.
With roughly 20 laps remaining, the front four were separated by two different factions. Seavey was in the process of fending off Grant for the lead in heavy traffic while, a full straightaway back, Larson was waging himself in a toil with Golobic.
When Timms spun in turn one on lap 86, the incident proved to be a game changer. Gone was Seavey's 0.950 second lead and it breathed new life into Larson’s pursuit of victory. First, Larson punched it past Golobic for third in turn three on lap 86, then repeated the effort on Grant in turn three on lap 88 to slot into second. Yet Larson remained a far cry from Seavey who held a commanding 1.3 second lead at the time. However, Larson wasn’t content on just riding around at that point.
“I knew that where I was at,” Larson admitted. “I could win the points, but I didn’t want to just win the points. I wanted to win the race. So, we had to get up on the wheel the last 15 laps and start pounding the top of one and two to build some runs.”
However, a yellow flag flew on lap 91 for Cannon McIntosh (16th) who ran out of fuel and slowed to a stop with 10 laps to go and again on lap 93 for Reimer whose car wound up inclined backward on the back straightaway hill. The caution allowed the field to bunch up and for Larson to be right on the rear bumper of Seavey for the lap 93 restart.
Larson swept to the lead past Seavey with his patented turn three slider on the lap 93 restart. Seavey and Golobic swarmed Larson on lap 94 in turn three as both slid their way past, forcing Larson to double back under both cars off turn four to beat Seavey to the line by a half car length. Larson cleared both, then took the slider line for himself to form a bit of a fortress around himself to protect from being slid back.
“They both slid me in three and four and I was able to check up and get a nice run off exit and get back to the lead,” Larson recalled. “I wasn’t quite sure what to do after that in one and two. The safe route would’ve been to run the bottom but Logan’s really good around the cushion, so I didn’t want to do that and let him build up a run behind me. I felt like if I could just not hit the curb hard in one and two, I could at least have enough momentum down the back stretch to protect from a slider. I could see his nose for a few laps there, but with two or three to go, he disappeared from my inside in one and two and I felt like I had gotten a safe enough gap there.”
From there, Larson was unattainable by the rest of the field as he finished off a 0.881 second interval at the finish line over Logan Seavey, Shane Golobic and Justin Grant with Carson Macedo rounding out the top-five.
“A lot kind of happened there during that final eight lap run,” Larson acknowledged. “I knew, being the leader, you’ve got to play some games. Logan took off in the middle and got to the cushion, and he got a little tight. I was actually able to get a good launch and was entering on his right rear into one. He could hear me because he went to protect into three. My angle was just a little bit better than his and I was able to get to the cushion and chop him into one.”
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) came close to becoming the first two-time Hangtown winner aboard his Abacus Racing/Honest Abe Roofing - Indy Custom Stone - Laura Kopetsky Tri-Ax/Spike/Stanton SR-11x. He led 35 laps and paced the field until eight laps to go before coming home second. The USAC National Midget point leader has now raced his way to a remarkable 20 top-tens and 19 top-fives in his last 20 starts.
At his self-described favorite racetrack in the world, Shane Golobic (Fremont, Calif.) was in contention for the win during the final laps in his Matt Wood Racing/NOS Energy Drink – FK Rod Ends – DMI – Smith Titanium/Spike/Stanton SR-11x. In the end, he raced to his best career Hangtown 100 finish of third.
Carson Macedo (Lemoore, Calif.) advanced all the way from his 21st starting position to finish fifth in the Hangtown100, earning a $500 hard charger bonus from Ms. Blanche Rose. Macedo has now finished all three of his Hangtown 100 starts inside the top-five (5th in 2021, 4th in 2022 & 5th in 2023).
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: November 19, 2023 – Placerville Speedway – Placerville, California – 1/4-Mile Dirt Track – Hangtown 100
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-20 in overall points transfer to the feature) 1. Chris Windom (#89 CBI), 2. Kyle Larson (#1K Larson), 3. David Gasper (#73 Ford), 4. Daison Pursley (#19 Reinbold-Underwood), 5. Shane Golobic (#17w Wood), 6. Justin Grant (#2 RMS), 7. Jade Avedisian (#71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 8. Carson Macedo (#99AU Dyson), 9. Peter Hunnibell (#65NZ Covich). NT
ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-20 in overall points transfer to the feature) 1. Bryant Wiedeman (#81 CBI), 2. Landon Brooks (#57w Wood), 3. Spencer Bayston (#9AU Dyson), 4. Jacob Denney (#25 Malloy), 5. Ryan Timms (#67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Gavin Miller (#97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Thomas Meseraull (#7x Engler), 8. Hayden Reinbold (#19AZ Reinbold/Underwood). NT
T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-20 in overall points transfer to the feature) 1. Corey Day (#4 Kahne), 2. Chance Crum (#68w Six8), 3. Cannon McIntosh (#86 CBI), 4. Mitchel Moles (#19T Reinbold/Underwood), 5. Chase Johnson (#31 Beilman), 6. Taylor Reimer (#25K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Buddy Kofoid (#67K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 8. Mariah Ede (#71E Kunz/Curb-Agajanian). NT
CAR IQ FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-20 in overall points transfer to the feature) 1. Brody Fuson (#51 Carlile), 2. Jesse Love (#84 CBI), 3. Emerson Axsom (#68 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Logan Seavey (#57 Abacus), 5. Tanner Thorson (#88 Thorson), 6. Tanner Carrick (#98 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Blake Bower (#9 Boscacci), 8. Shannon McQueen (#7 McQueen). NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (15 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Macedo, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Jesse Love, 4. Landon Brooks, 5. Chase Johnson, 6. David Gasper, 7. Chance Crum, 8. Mariah Ede, 9. Hayden Reinbold, 10. Peter Hunnibell, 11. Bryant Wiedeman, 12. Shannon McQueen. NT
FEATURE: (100 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Larson (16), 2. Logan Seavey (14), 3. Shane Golobic (3), 4. Justin Grant (8), 5. Carson Macedo (21), 6. Emerson Axsom (5), 7. Buddy Kofoid (13), 8. Mitchel Moles (4), 9. Daison Pursley (19), 10. Jacob Denney (15), 11. Hayden Reinbold (28-P), 12. Landon Brooks (24), 13. Jade Avedisian (10), 14. Spencer Bayston (7), 15. Tanner Thorson (18), 16. Tanner Carrick (9), 17. Ryan Timms (2), 18. Chris Windom (22), 19. Gavin Miller (12), 20. Bryant Wiedeman (25-P), 21. Brody Fuson (17), 22. Cannon McIntosh (6), 23. Taylor Reimer (11), 24. Chase Johnson (26-P), 25. Corey Day (1), 26. Chance Crum (27-P), 27. Thomas Meseraull (20), 28. Jesse Love (23). NT
**(P) represents a promoter’s option starter
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-14 Ryan Timms, Laps 15-17 Mitchel Moles, Laps 18-57 Justin Grant, Laps 58-92 Logan Seavey, Laps 93-100 Kyle Larson.
**Mariah Ede flipped during the third heat. Thomas Meseraull flipped on lap 27 of the feature. Taylor Reimer flipped on lap 49 of the feature. Jade Avedisian & Chase Johnson flipped on lap 58 of the feature.
FINAL HANGTOWN 100 POINTS: 1-Kyle Larson-343, 2-Logan Seavey-329, 3-Justin Grant-308, 4-Jacob Denney-307, 5-Buddy Kofoid-306, 6-Shane Golobic-299, 7-Emerson Axsom-296, 8-Jade Avedisian-286, 9-Mitchel Moles-285, 10-Spencer Bayston-280.
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-1589, 2-Justin Grant-1359, 3-Bryant Wiedeman-1305, 4-Daison Pursley-1285, 5-Ryan Timms-1278, 6-Jade Avedisian-1262, 7-Jacob Denney-1213, 8-Gavin Miller-1151, 9-Cannon McIntosh-1122, 10-Taylor Reimer-1081.
OVERALL USAC NATIONAL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Daison Pursley-198, 2-Logan Seavey-164, 3-Justin Grant-124, 4-Emerson Axsom-117, 5-Shane Cottle-106, 6-Matt Westfall-105, 7-Robert Ballou-100, 8-Chase Stockon-95, 9-Brady Bacon-92, 10-Mitchel Moles-91.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: November 21-22, 2023 – Merced Speedway – Merced, California – 1/4-Mile Dirt Track
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Jesse Love
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Chris Windom
Rod End Supply Second Heat Winner: Bryant Wiedeman
T.J. Forged Third Heat Winner: Corey Day
Car IQ Fourth Heat Winner: Brody Fuson
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Carson Macedo
Green APU Green Flag Challenge First Lap Leader: Ryan Timms
Blanche Rose Hard Charger: Carson Macedo (21st to 5th)
Lap 69 Leader in Memory of Frank Viera: Logan Seavey
Hangtown 100 Points Champion: Kyle Larson