Two of racing’s biggest stars are participating this weekend in the USAC-sanctioned Hangtown 100 race for Midget Sprint Cars. And it’s not just any high-profile drivers taking part in the event held at California’s Placerville Speedway, it’s the two most recent NASCAR Cup Series champions who are hitting the quarter-mile dirt track for competition.
The Hangtown 100 is part of the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Championship Series.
Kyle Larson entered the weekend as the defending champion of the Hangtown 100 from the last time the event was contested back in 2019. And more, the 2021 Cup Series titlist unveiled his new team for this three-day affair. For a teammate, Larson brought along his fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver and 2020 Cup Series champion Chase Elliott. Both drivers flew across the country to make this event after putting NASCAR’s new NextGen car through it paces during a test session held earlier in the week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Larson cut his racing teeth in this form of motorsports growing up not far from Placerville Speedway in Elk Grove, California. “Yung Money” has parlayed that early experience into success as a top Sprint Car racer, a Dirt Late Model feature winner, and of course, a NASCAR champion. Still, he competes in this form of racing when his schedule allows as evidenced by the back-to-back Chili Bowl Nationals victories he scored in 2019 and 2020.
Compared to his NASCAR Cup Series teammate, Elliott has very little experience in Midget Sprint Cars or on dirt in general for that matter. Still, the Dawsonville, Georgia native has shown over the past two years that he is very much interested in expanding his skillset in the various forms of dirt competition. This has been demonstrated by his first ever entry in the Chili Bowl Nationals last January and his participation in the Bristol Dirt Nationals for Dirt Late Model cars prior to the running of the NASCAR event at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Larson put his skills on full display on Friday night in front of an enthusiastic and supportive crowd at Placerville. The FloRacing.com sponsored No. 1A machine prepared by Paul Silva qualified third overall against drivers who compete on a weekly basis in this form of motorsports. The 29-year-old driver then finished third in the fourth heat race of the night to earn a 7th starting spot for the feature race.
Larson sliced through the field eventually making his way to the lead on lap 22 of the 30-lap A-main before he ultimately sailed under the checkered flag to score the win.
Elliott missed out on Thursday’s race as he was still testing his HMS Chevrolet in Charlotte. On Friday night the 25-year-old driver was unable to make it to the feature race after a spin that led to an 11th-place finish in his B-main.
“Nobody has a car like it in the field and it was neat to win out in our second race,” Larson remarked to FloRacing.com of his new ride during his victory lane interview on Friday.
That win followed a sixth-place finish for Larson on Thursday and provides him with an opportunity to win the overall points championship for the three-race set.
When asked how it would feel to add yet another high-profile win to his 2021 résumé, Larson added, “It would be neat. Obviously a really good night for points, setting us up for the overall winner tomorrow. Then if we can keep getting our car better and better and keep getting me more comfortable we should have a really good shot. We’d love to back up our win we had here in 2019.”
The 100-lap finale will take place on Saturday night at Placerville Speedway and will be aired live by FloRacing.com.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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