ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio- By Brian Liskai (Sunday, June 24, 2012) – Check another racing achievement off young Kyle Larson’s already pretty impressive resume. The Elk Grove, California resident made his debut in the University of Northwestern Ohio All Star Circuit of Champions 30th Annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek Sunday at Cannonball Speedway and thrilled the crowd by holding off three time and defending series champion Tim Shaffer to score the victory.
Larson, who has won in everything he has sat in from sprint cars to midgets to fendered late models, made his first appearance of the nine-night Ohio Sprint Speedweek at a track that hasn’t hosted a sprint car race in over 10 years. However, the 20-year-old battled with Shaffer throughout the 30 laps, and was the beneficiary when David Gravel, who had driven past both for the lead on lap 17, slid into the turn two fence and flipped, before driving to his first UNOH All Star victory.
“Davey Jones had me hooked up tonight. We were good from the git-go. We were quick every time we were out there. It’s a good thing I got the lead there on the start. I just had to make sure I hit my marks…the bottom was pretty narrow down there and tricky. I saw Shaffer get around me a couple of times in three and four…I had to make sure I hit the moisture there on the bottom. I started to open up my entry into three just to try and kill his momentum. It felt like it was taking rubber a little there so I could carry a little more speed,” said Larson beside his Abreu Vineyards/Stadelhoffer Construction/Butlerbilt seats backed #1k.
“This was the debut for this Spike Chassis…it’s a really good car. Hopefully we can get some more wins in it,” added Larson.
Shaffer tried several times to drive around Larson’s outside as the duo battled side-by-side down the front stretch several times. The Steel City Outlaw would come home in the runner-up position for his second consecutive podium finish.
“We are definitely starting to gel and work well together. Its new people and it’s a time to learn each other and see what I like and what they like to do and that makes it tough. But Kyle did a heck of a job. I thought we had him a couple of times…I didn’t need that last caution. But, it was a good race…we just came up short,” said Shaffer beside his Aaron Call/Janet Holbrook owned machine with backing from Kistler Engines/VRP Shocks/J&J Auto Racing. “Our main goal is to be consistent…to be up front and get a top five each night and build a team.
Also making his debut for the 2012 Ohio Sprint Speedweek was Bixby, Oklahoma’s Shane Stewart aboard a new car fielded by a new team out of Fremont, Ohio. Stewart didn’t disappoint, driving the Level Performance/Hoy’s Bar/Kear’s Speedshop #29 to a third place finish.
“Daniel Smith had the car very good and I have to thank Rich Farmer for inviting me to come and drive the 29. It was a good way to start off the four or five races I’m going to be in it. We’ve got a little motor issue and hopefully once we get that figured out we will have a pretty solid car,” said Stewart. “My hats off to Kyle…he’s a pretty good talent for his age. It was pretty cool to watch…they had a pretty good battle. I was having fun watching them. I wished I could have gotten up there and contended for the lead. We were just a little bit off, but I’m pretty happy with a third place finish for the first night in the car.”
Shaffer and Lance Dewease would bring the field of 24 to the green on the .4-mile track, with Shaffer grabbing the lead while third starting Larson slid into second with Dewease, David Gravel, Cap Henry and Dale Blaney in tow
Larson would drive under Shaffer for the lead on lap two, but Shaffer would continue to drive to Larson’s outside exiting turn four lap after lap. Meanwhile, behind that fantastic battle, Dewease, Gravel and Henry were waging war for third.
The action would come to a fiery halt on lap eight just as the leaders were racing into lapped traffic, when Logan Schuchart drove to the infield with the rear of his car erupting in flames. The young Hanover, Pa. resident bailed out of his car unharmed as fire crews worked to extinguish the blaze. During the red, Dale Blaney, who had been running sixth, ducked to the work area and would rejoin the field at the tail.
On the restart, again Larson and Shaffer would battle for the lead with Gravel now pulling away in third and closing on the leaders. With 13 laps in the books, it was now a fantastic three car battle for the lead with Larson glued to the bottom, Shaffer in the middle and Gravel blasting away up top.
Gravel would take second on lap 14 and raced to Larson’s outside for the lead as they hit lapped traffic again on the 16th circuit. Gravel would fly around Larson to lead lap 17, but as the 2010 Ohio Sprint Speedweek champion blasted around turns one and two, he slid up the track in the marbles and into the fence, flipping hard. Gravel was uninjured, but was visibly upset as it appeared he had the car to beat.
On the restart it was Larson over Shaffer, Henry, Dewease and Stewart, who had found something in the middle of the track. Shaffer would resume his drive to the outside of Larson for the lead as Henry no had his hands full with Stewart. Larson and Shaffer raced side by side over the next eight laps with Stewart taking third on lap 20.
Larson would pull away slightly from Shaffer the remaining four laps for the win with Shaffer unchallenged for second, Stewart third, Henry fourth and Blaney rallying to a fifth place finish.
Cannonball Motor Speedway – 6/24/2012
All Star Circuit of Champions (34 Cars)
Qualifying – Kistler Engines
1. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr., 13.624; 2. 83-Tim Shaffer, 13.714; 3. 89G-David Gravel, 13.719; 4. 1K-Kyle Larson, 13.758; 5. 54-Cap Henry, 13.826; 6. D4-Danny Holtgraver, 13.890; 7. 30C-Lance Dewease, 13.933; 8. 60C-Kory Crabtree, 14.086; 9. 2-Dale Blaney, 14.132; 10. 29-Shane Stewart, 14.151; 11. 24H-Bryan Sebetto, 14.154; 12. W20-Greg Wilson, 14.204; 13. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 14.217; 14. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild, 14.266; 15. 17-Marty Perovich, 14.299; 16. 45-Paul McMahan, 14.329; 17. 40-Caleb Helms, 14.338; 18. 46AU-Stuart Williams, 14.366; 19. 14K-Cole Duncan, 14.382; 20. 35-Stuart Brubaker, 14.483; 21. 4K-Kody Kinser, 14.486; 22. 3-Pete Miller III, 14.575; 23. 55-Brad Bowman, 14.637; 24. 19-Stevie Smith, 14.746; 25. 2M-Dallas Hewitt, 14.830; 26. 13-Brandon Matus, 14.851; 27. 35W-Wes McGlumphy, 14.876; 28. 5T-Travis Philo, 14.904; 29. 4-Danny Smith, 14.967; 30. D12-Jason Dolick, 15.033; 31. 24-Brian Steinman, 15.122; 32. 71AU-Ryan Davis, 15.320; 33. 33-Brent Matus, 15.475; 34. 80-Trey Gustin , 99.999
Heat 1 – Kears Speed Shop (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 40-Caleb Helms ; 2. 4K-Kody Kinser ; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 4. 54-Cap Henry ; 5. 2-Dale Blaney ; 6. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. ; 7. 4-Danny Smith ; 8. 33-Brent Matus ; 9. 2M-Dallas Hewitt
Heat 2 – All Pro Aluminum Heads (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 3-Pete Miller III ; 2. D4-Danny Holtgraver ; 3. 29-Shane Stewart ; 4. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild ; 5. 83-Tim Shaffer ; 6. 46AU-Stuart Williams ; 7. 13-Brandon Matus ; 8. D12-Jason Dolick
Heat 3 – Dragon Race Fuel (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 55-Brad Bowman ; 2. 17-Marty Perovich ; 3. 24H-Bryan Sebetto ; 4. 30C-Lance Dewease ; 5. 89G-David Gravel ; 6. 14K-Cole Duncan ; 7. 35W-Wes McGlumphy ; 8. 24-Brian Steinman
Heat 4 – Kinsler Fuel Injection (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 19-Stevie Smith ; 2. 45-Paul McMahan ; 3. 1K-Kyle Larson ; 4. 35-Stuart Brubaker ; 5. W20-Greg Wilson ; 6. 60C-Kory Crabtree ; 7. 5T-Travis Philo ; 8. 71AU-Ryan Davis
Dash – Outerwears Performance Products (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 6 starting positions of A-feature
1. 83-Tim Shaffer ; 2. 30C-Lance Dewease ; 3. 1K-Kyle Larson ; 4. 54-Cap Henry ; 5. 89G-David Gravel ; 6. D4-Danny Holtgraver
B-Main – MSD Ignition (12 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature)
1. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. ; 2. 60C-Kory Crabtree ; 3. 5T-Travis Philo ; 4. 14K-Cole Duncan ; 5. 13-Brandon Matus ; 6. 4-Danny Smith ; 7. 35W-Wes McGlumphy ; 8. 2M-Dallas Hewitt ; 9. 46AU-Stuart Williams ; 10. 24-Brian Steinman ; 11. 33-Brent Matus ; 12. 71AU-Ryan Davis ; 13. D12-Jason Dolick
A-Main – University of Northwestern Ohio (30 Laps)
1. 1K-Kyle Larson; 2. 83-Tim Shaffer; 3. 29-Shane Stewart; 4. 54-Cap Henry; 5. 2-Dale Blaney; 6. D4-Danny Holtgraver; 7. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr.; 8. 30C-Lance Dewease; 9. 19-Stevie Smith; 10. W20-Greg Wilson; 11. 24H-Bryan Sebetto; 12. 45-Paul McMahan; 13. 55-Brad Bowman; 14. 60C-Kory Crabtree; 15. 17-Marty Perovich; 16. 93-Sheldon Haudenschild; 17. 14K-Cole Duncan; 18. 40-Caleb Helms; 19. 35-Stuart Brubaker; 20. 3-Pete Miller III; 21. 5T-Travis Philo; 22. 89G-David Gravel; 23. 4K-Kody Kinser; 24. 1S-Logan Schuchart
Hard Charger: 19-Stevie Smith[+14]