(Courtesy Chris Knight | NASCAR Wire Services
ROSSBURG, Ohio — Battling back from all kinds of adversity, Kyle Larson sailed away on a late race restart with 16 laps to go to win Wednesday night’s fourth annual Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby 150 at Eldora Speedway.
“It means a lot, especially losing the way I did the two years I ran,” said Larson from Victory Lane. “Thanks to everyone on this GMS Racing team, DC Solar for coming on-board for this, this is very special for them. I knew running a blue No. 24 I had to run hard here at Eldora. Rico (Abreu) does a really good job in a Sprint car with that. I had to put on a show.
“We got the flat tire there early, I knew we would get a lucky dog, I just didn’t know if I could get back to the top-three as quick as I did. It just worked out where I got by (Christopher) Bell when he got in the wall and I think Bobby (Pierce) had a gear issue. He was definitely better than I was for sure.
The win didn’t come easy though.
Larson took the lead from last year’s runner-up Bobby Pierce following the second caution on Lap 35 and appeared to be in control of the event, but while leading, Larson spun in Turn 4 on Lap 52 to bring out the fourth caution of the night.
Adding fuel to his fire, Larson was docked one lap by NASCAR for intentionally causing the yellow after spinning and stopping on the race track.
Two cautions later, however, Larson found himself back on the lead lap courtesy of the free pass and his mission to rally from the back to the front began.
Chasing down Pierce for the race lead, Larson took advantage of Pierce’s transmission being stuck in fourth gear to take the lead with 30 laps to go, Pierce attempted to take the lead back three laps later, but slammed the outside Turn 4 wall, ending his night and bringing out the final caution of the event.
Despite a late race charge from Bell on the restart, Larson pulled away as the laps dwindled away and earned a 0.767-second advantage to win his second NCWTS race in his 12th start.
“I guess I didn’t really hold him (Pierce) off, he slid in there and hit the wall and got a flat I think,” Larson said. “I hated that I couldn’t race with him, but I was happy when he was out. I almost gave it away again after that restart. I went to the middle of three and four in third gear and I missed a shift off Turn 4 and Bell got into my back bumper. Thankfully, he wasn’t inside of me, because he would have got the lead there and probably would be standing where I am.”
Bell, last year’s winner, was disappointed with second but knew he gained crucial points towards his championship chase.
“Tony (Stewart, Eldora Speedway owner) did an awesome job with the race track tonight,” said Bell. “It was really technical, it was really tough to get around and it was really fun, too. Kyle’s been trying to win this race for a long time and it was cool for him to win tonight. The guys at KBM ( Kyle Busch Motorsports) worked really hard to put me in this position. I was disappointed we couldn’t repeat.”
Pierce who led a commanding 102 laps finished 25th in likely his final truck race of the season.
“The carburetor was flooded and I couldn’t get off the corner at all. Larson drove a great race,” Pierce said. “When that happened on the restart, I caught him a little bit, he hit the wall and I tried to slide him. I went in there a little too hard, it was super-slick and I got the wall and knocked the right-rear off the rim and that was that.”
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to Eldora on July 19, 2017.
Courtesy Harold Hinson
Use the players below to listen to audio coverage of the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby post-race press conference, which included the podium finishers: 1)Kyle Larson 2)Christopher Bell 3)Rico Abreu.
ROSSBURG, O.H. – July 20, 2016 – The 25-lap Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds invitational exhibition at Eldora Speedway Wednesday night saw Matt Sheppard lead the field from green to checkered to score his first ever Big-Block modified feature at the ‘Big E.’
“It means a lot to win here. I mean, after last night anything that could go wrong went wrong,” said Sheppard about his sixteenth place finish the night before. “Turning it around tonight just shows how great this team is and how fast this race car is.”
As the special feature kicked off at the legendary half-mile, Sheppard jumped out to a sizable early lead as Brett Hearn followed in second.
The first caution of the night was brought out on lap four as second place runner, Hearn, slowed to a stop in turns one and two for a shredded tire.
On the restart, the crowd saw Rich Scagliotta, Frank Cozze, and Peter Britten battling for the second spot.
Britten was running up against the outside wall trying to gain some ground on Scagliotta in second place and was able to charge to the outside and chase him down for the second spot.
Britten was closing but had hopes of a yellow to help close up the gap between him and Sheppard.
“It really surprised me how good the bottom was. I thought the groove was going to be around the top. I just followed Scagliotta around the bottom there. We passed as many cars as we could,” said 11th place starter, Peter Britten.
“We dropped a cylinder last night. We changed motors completely with the spare we had in the trailer. I think I was just as good tonight. I think a caution would have given us a crack at him. I think wherever he was running I would have been able to at least pull beside him.”
View Big-Block Feature Highlights
Larry Wight charged from his 10th starting spot to drive his No. 99L machine to a podium finish.
“We had a good car. We were able to slide up through quick enough. We wasted probably about five laps running in the middle waiting for the top or bottom lane to open up,” Wigh said. “After that we were able to get up to third but just ran out of time. I think a caution would have helped because Peter had a left rear flat. I know we would have gotten him. I think we had something for Matt.”
Sheppard was excited with his first place finish after his misfortune from the night before. “I got caught up with a lapped car last night that tore up the car inside and out. I got a couple of flat tires as well.”
“We qualified horrible but we were good in the heat race and drove up through. We really turned this car around. We had a lot of work to do today and it was really good tonight. We had a terrible last night but we’re just happy to rebound tonight. “
Matt Sheppard scored his very first Super DIRTcar Series race at Eldora Speedway in style, green to checkered.
Miscellaneous stat pack and lap chart documents can be viewed below…