Kyle Larson set to defend biggest Dirt Late Model victory

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson’s 2021 season was one of the greatest campaigns ever recorded by a race car driver. The Elk Grove, California native won 10 NASCAR Cup Series races including the season finale at Phoenix Raceway to clinch the series title. The 30-year-old driver won the two biggest World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races by taking one of two Kings Royal features at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio and the much-coveted Knoxville Sprint Car Nationals at the Knoxville(IA) Speedway.

Prior to all of that, ‘Yung Money’ had begun the racing season by winning the Chili Bowl Nationals for Midget cars in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

But of all those victories, perhaps the most impressive was his triumph in the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series-sanctioned Prairie Dirt Classic at the Fairbury(IL) American Legion Speedway last July. The winner’s share of the payoff for the 2021 PDC was $50,000 which, when compared to the $1,000,000 the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet earned for the NASCAR All-Star Race seems small, but in Dirt Late Model terms it was one of the bigger purses of the season.

So why then might the PDC have been the most impressive of his numerous victories?

Of all the forms of racing he has participated in, Larson has the least amount of experience in a Dirt Late Model. In reality, he only began competing in this form of racing in the summer of 2020 driving the No. 6 Longhorn Chassis for Kevin Rumley and his K&L Rumley Enterprises operation.

Like every other type of racing he attempts, Larson immediately showed his prowess behind the wheel by winning a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race at Pennsylvania’s Port Royal Speedway in only his second career start. He has also won on the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series, the Castrol FloRacing Night in America Series and the XR Super Series.

Even with all that immediate success, Larson had not won one of Dirt Late Model racing’s crown jewel events until this time last year. The driver whose dirt racing background originates out of the open wheel world has found himself, on many occasions, inside the Top-25 poll for Dirt Late Model racers.

Having an impact on all of Larson’s racing outside of NASCAR is the fact that Cup Series weekends are now much more involved than they have been over the past couple of years. That form of racing has resumed practice and qualifying prior to its races after not doing so during much of 2020 and 2021, there is less time for moonlighting. However, NASCAR practice sessions are shorter than they were a few seasons ago which does allow regular competitors to escape the track with enough time to make it to a local dirt racing venue.

Obviously, NASCAR is Larson’s primary job so whatever that form of racing is doing will take precedence over everything else.

Add to that, Larson and reigning World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Brad Sweet recently announced plans to promote their own High Limit Sprint Car Series which will bring about even greater time demands on the star driver.

Kyle Larson in the K&L Rumley Enterprises No. 6 Longhorn Chassis

With all of that going on, one has to wonder how many more times Larson will be able to compete in a Dirt Late Model. We know one of those times for sure as he will be on hand this weekend to defend his victory in last year’s Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury.

Like most other “outside” races he takes on, Larson will have to work around his NASCAR schedule but the commute from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the Cup Series will be in action on Sunday, is a relatively easy one.

The fact that someone so accomplished in NASCAR will even attempt to race in so many other forms of motorsports is impressive. But the fact that he does so at such a high level is almost mind bobbling.

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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.

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