Kyle Larson withstood eight restarts and finally cruised to yet another preliminary victory Tuesday night in the Chili Bowl.
In winning the 30-lap A Main qualifier for the sixth time in his career, Larson started second, snatched the lead on the first lap and was never passed as he beat polesitter Jonathan Beason by three seconds to advance to Saturday night’s 34th annual midget race.
“I got a good jump, my car was good, ran some fast laps, and got through traffic,” said the NASCAR front-runner who lost last year’s race on a last-lap pass by Chris Bell. “I’ve won a lot of prelims here but haven’t got the job done yet on Saturday, so that’s the goal.”
Larson isn’t driving for perennial winner Keith Kunz this year because he wanted to try something different and his King chassis and Speedway Toyota looked plenty stout.
Beason kept Larson honest until the final few laps when lapped cars really separated them.
“I was all over the place the last five laps but it feels good to be locked in,” said the Oklahoma driver. “I was hoping we had something for Kyle but we didn’t and I guess I’m just glad we made the A Main for the first time in six years.”
The drive of the night was turned in by the fastest racing announcer in the country. Indy’s Dillon Welch, who covers NASCAR for MRN and NBC and only drives a couple times a year, charged from 16th to fourth in his Tucker-Boat Spice/Toyota.
In the Race of Champions, Bell led every lap and continued his mastery of this tricky, dirt bullring. He’ll run his qualifier on Thursday night and be shooting for his fourth consecutive Golden Driller Trophy in Saturday’s main event.