Hoosier Hundred 2020: Ex-NASCAR driver Kyle Larson moves 22 spots for USAC Silver Crown win
INDIANAPOLIS — Kyle Larson cannot be stopped on dirt.
Whether it’s USAC Midgets, USAC Silver Crown cars or winged sprint cars, the Californian is in a league of his own, winning the 65th Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Sunday night.
After a number of drivers, Larson included, moved to the rear of the field for changing right rear tires, Logan Seavey and C.J. Leary led the 32-car field to the green flag of the 100-lap feature for USAC Silver Crown cars.
As Larson started moving through the field, the first caution came out for Kyle Robbins slowing on the front stretch on Lap 10. The red flag came out shortly afterward for a five-car incident involving Carb Night Classic winner Kody Swanson, David Byrne, Jimmy Light, Terry Babb and Austin Nemire.
At the restart, 2019 Hoosier Hundred winner Tyler Courtney got around Leary on the outside while Larson got third from Seavey. However, as the field came around Turn 2, Carmen Perigo and Brady Bacon flipped on the backstretch as the rest of the field slowly jammed up behind them. Because the passes took place before the field finished that lap, scoring reverted to the previous lap, invalidating them.
Courtney and Larson pulled off the same moves again as the race resumed but Larson then moved to second place the next time getting around Leary. The drivers that started 14th and 23rd were now first and second on Lap 11.
Three laps later, Chris Urish hit the wall in Turns 3-4, bringing out the yellow. With the field bunched up, Larson had his shot at the lead as the green flag came out on Lap 20, but Courtney immediately pulled away from Larson to build up a small lead.
That lead did not last as Larson pulled around the outside of Courtney on Lap 24 to take the lead with Leary pulling off the same move on Courtney a lap and a half later to get second place.
Leary hounded Larson’s No. 19 machine for several laps before sneaking inside Larson into Turn 1 on Lap 30 and getting the lead and quickly pulling away with a nearly two-second lead in two laps.
That lead vanished after a red flag on Lap 34 as the No. 06 of Bryan Gossel went into the Turn 4 wall after contact with another car.
Leary held off Larson’s advances after the restart and pulled away to another two second lead before the No. 15 of Chad Kemenah hit the wall in Turn 3, bringing out the yellow flag on Lap 54.
After fending off Larson’s advances again, Leary pulled away to another small lead before Mike Haggenbottom hit the wall going into Turn 3 on Lap 64, bringing out another caution.
As the green flag came out on Lap 69, Larson went around Leary’s outside heading to Turn 1 and barely cleared the No. 30 machine to take the lead. Leary’s loss of momentum allowed Courtney to get second place.
Leary wasn’t happy with the move, but Larson was clear.
“I felt like we had a dominant car,” said Leary. “I drove by him twice, just there he got me on the restart (and) got a run on the outside and I think he kind of turned down on me in my opinion, but we have spotters and he’s on fire right now.”
Larson admitted he chopped Leary but knew he had to seize his opportunity to get the lead.
“I wanted to be able to get by (Leary) and his engine seemed to kind of stumble just a little bit,” said Larson. “I was able to get to his outside and outbrake him really into one and chop him and get the lead and kind of try to just set a fast pace from then on just so they couldn’t get any runs on me.”
Courtney then slowed on Lap 79 with an engine failure as Leary started putting the pressure on Larson as the race wound down to the final 15 laps.
However, Larson pulled away with a series of fast laps to secure his first win in the dirt racing classic by just over two seconds over Leary with Logan Seavey in third.
This was Seavey’s first Hoosier Hundred and the Silver Crown rookie learned a lot during his first time competing on the dirt mile.
“It’s a huge mental race,” said Seavey. “I think I just ran a little bit too slow of a pace early and gave up too much track position. Finally at the end when my tire was a little bit better than (other) people I took too much to go back by them, the track was just so tough to pass (on) and I just used up a little bit too much trying to get that track position back. I’ve just got to learn how to manage these long races and eventually we’ll be racing for the lead here.”