Kyle Larson ready for more dirt racing fun at World of Outlaws Bristol Throwdown
No driver has had more fun with the dirt-transformed Bristol Motor Speedway than Kyle Larson. The self-confessed dirt-obsessed racer is heading to Thunder Valley this weekend for the World of Outlaws Bristol Throwdown chasing another victory in the high-speed World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, April 22-24.
Larson drove a Super Late Model to a pair of second place finishes in the Bristol Dirt Nationals in mid-March, then shifted gears by driving his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy in the historic Food City Dirt Race, the first time the NASCAR Cup Series had raced on dirt in more than 50 years. Larson also competed in the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt in a Chevy Silverado for Niece Motorsports during the NASCAR weekend.
This weekend at The Last Great Colosseum, Larson will finish off his grand Tennessee dirt expedition in style, by wheeling Paul Silva’s No. 57 winged sprint car as he tries to add another win to his resume as “The Greatest Show on Dirt” makes its much-anticipated return to Thunder Valley for the first time in more than two decades.
For Larson, a win at dirt-covered Bristol would be a victory he would cherish for a long time to come.
“It would mean a lot,” Larson said. “They've only done this race a couple times. There's not too many people who can say they've won on the dirt at Bristol, so I would like to do that for sure. It's a unique event. You want to win all of them, but you want to win the special ones for sure. This is one of those, and it's a track with so much history and for sure, I'd love to win there.”
For fans who may have never seen the Outlaws in action, the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars are lightweight vehicles that tip the scales at 1,400 pounds with the driver and have large adjustable wings and large rear tires that help transfer the car’s power to the track. The 410 cubic-inch engines are loud and fueled by methanol and produce around 900 horsepower. Larson says with Bristol’s 19-degrees of banking and more than 50 feet of racing surface, fans are in for a real treat watching the Outlaws Sprint Cars fly around Bristol.
“It’s going to be ultra-fast racing for sure,” Larson said. “I mean you’ve got sprint cars at over 900 horsepower weighing 1,400 pounds vs. a Cup car at 3,500 pounds and around 750 horsepower. I think lap times will be crazy fast — like 12 seconds. I still think it’ll be fairly similar to other half-miles, though. I just don’t think the pace will slow off as much as it does at other places because you have the banking and the load to carry speed throughout the night.”
Larson won an amazing 46 dirt feature races in 97 attempts across the county last season, an epic total that included an impressive 12 feature victories in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series. Last weekend he drove the car to victory in an All-Star Circuit of Champions race at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania and comes to Bristol riding a bit of momentum, although he says it’s nothing quite near last year’s pace.
“Last year I was racing almost every day of the week, and we built a huge notebook and I was fresh as a driver,” Larson said. “Now, this is only my second race back in the Sprint Car since November so there’s some rust there. The Outlaws are just so much more aggressive than the All-Stars with double-file restarts and such. It’s the little things you have to perfect to be good with the World of Outlaws.”
A star-studded 38-car field is expected to join Larson for the World of Outlaws Bristol Throwdown, including five drivers who competed in the historic World of Outlaws races at Bristol in 2000 and 2001. The Outlaws will be joined at the event by the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds with a pile of money up for grabs in both series as well as a few highly-coveted BMS Gladiator Swords available to the weekend winners.
In addition to Larson, the list of potential winners also includes two-time defending series champ Brad Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing and has won five times this year at the controls of his No. 49 NAPA machine. The rivalry is a bit personal for Larson and Sweet, who are brothers-in-law.
“I’m really competitive with Brad, I want to beat him more so than anybody and I’m sure the same goes for me with him,” Larson said. “He is having a great year. He is by far the best driver out there right now with the best team. He will definitely be the guy to beat for sure. The World of Outlaws has a really tough field and there's guys who run great at half-miles. The best sprint car drivers in the world will be here and the list of drivers who could win goes on and on. They are hard to beat and we are just a part-time team, but we feel like we do a good job and proved last year that we can win any day of the week. I don't think anybody can go there and expect to win with how competitive it is. It should be fun."
A strong group of hungry season winners also dot the race roster, including Sheldon Haudenschild, who drives for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s race team, rising star Logan Schuchart, ultra-fast David Gravel, Carson Macedo, Aaron Reutzel and James McFadden, who also drives for Kahne.
Others to watch are 10-time series champ Donny Schatz, who is seeking a milestone 300th series victory this weekend and was one of the drivers to win a Bristol feature back in 2001, Kraig Kinser, Giovanni Scelzi, and Rico Abreu.
The ground-pounding Super DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds compete primarily in the northeast and all along the East Coast. A Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified is a purpose-built open-wheel race car, weighing in at 2,500 pounds including the driver. The 467-cubic inch V-8 engine is fueled by methanol, and produces roughly 650-800 horsepower.
Top drivers in the Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified Series includes multi-time season champs Matt Sheppard, Brett Hearn, Danny Johnson, Billy Decker and defending champ (from 2019) Mat Williamson. Other drivers in the division to watch are Erik Rudolph, Mike Mahaney, Larry Wight, Peter Britten, Kevin Root, Chris Hile and Jimmy Phelps.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds will have practice sessions on Thursday, April 22 and will be followed by full racing programs on Friday and Saturday, April 23-24, consisting of hot laps, qualifying, heat races and last chance showdowns. A 25-lap main feature race with a $10,000 prize to the winner will be held Friday night for the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, followed by a 40-lap main feature with a $10,000 payout to the winner for the Super DIRTcar Series. The racing action on Saturday will be headlined by a 25-lap World of Outlaws Sprint Cars feature race with a $25,000 payout to the winner, and a 40-lap Super DIRTcar Series feature race with a $10,000 prize going to the winner.
The Bristol dirt conversion took place from January thru March and was highlighted by track operations crews putting down more than 23,000 cubic yards of dirt to cover the famous concrete race surface. The dirt was spread via satellite technology with sophisticated graders and bulldozers to get it in just the right positions.
To make the event as safe as possible for all attendees, BMS is instituting procedures to reduce contact and crowd density as guests and competitors purchase tickets, enter the grounds, enjoy the event and depart the facility. Face coverings will be a required accessory in high-traffic areas inside and outside the stadium for all guests who attend. The “Mask Up” campaign is part of an important initiative by Bristol Motor Speedway that strongly encourages the public to wear face coverings, not only when they are visiting the Speedway, but also when they are out in the surrounding communities as well, and to follow all of the necessary protocols and guidelines to do their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Fans can purchase their tickets today for the Bristol Throwdown at www.bristolmotorspeedway.com. Reserved grandstand ticket prices are $30 Thursday; $40 each for Friday and Saturday; $80 three-day weekend. Kids (12 and under) tickets are $5 for each day and $10 for the 3-day combo ticket. VIP Parking is available in for $10 per day. Guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets by today, to take advantage of a $5 advance-purchase discount
World of Outlaws NOS Sprint Car Series Bristol Throwdown Roster:
1A – Jacob Allen (Hanover, Pa.)
1S – Logan Schuchart (Hanover, Pa.)
2 – David Gravel (Watertown, Conn.)
2C – Wayne Johnson (Oklahoma City)
3Z – Brock Zearfoss (Jonestown, Pa.)
5 – Brent Marks (Myerstown, Pa.)
7BC – Tyler Courtney (Indianapolis)
7S – Jason Sides (Bartlett, Tenn.)
9 – James McFadden (Alice Springs, Australia)
9JR – Derek Hagar (Marion, Ark.)
11 – Ian Madsen (St. Mary’s, Australia)
11K – Kraig Kinser (Bloomington, Ind.)
13 – Justin Peck (Monrovia, Ind.)
15 – Donny Schatz (Fargo, N.D.)
15H – Sam Hafertepe Jr. (Sunnyvale, Texas)
17 – Sheldon Haudenschild (Wooster, Ohio)
18 – Gio Scelzi (Fresno, Calif.)
19 – Parker Price-Miller (Kokomo, Ind.)
19P – Paige Polyak (Tiffin, Ohio)
20 – Ryan Taylor (Perkasie, Pa.)
21 – Brian Brown (Grain Valley, Mo.)
23 – Paul McMahan (Nashville, Tenn.)
24 – Rico Abreu (St. Helena, Calif.)
24R – Jac Haudenschild (Wooster, Ohio)
24M – Kerry Madsen (St. Mary’s, Australia)
26 – Cory Eliason (Visalia, Calif.)
27 – Tucker Klaasmeyer (Paola, Kan.)
33M – Mason Daniel (Springville, Calif.)
41 – Carson Macedo (Lemoore, Calif.)
44W – Austen Wheatley (Lake Stevens, Wash.)
49 – Brad Sweet (Grass Valley, Calif.)
57 – Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, Calif.)
71 – Spencer Bayston (Lebanon, Ind.)
72 – Tim Shaffer (Aliquippa, Pa.)
73 – Scotty Thiel (Sheboygan, Wis.)
83 – Aaron Reutzel (Clute, Texas)
83R – Lynton Jeffrey (Sydney, Australia)
85 – Dustin Daggett (Portland, Mich.)
Super DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds Series Bristol Throwdown Roster:
X-Chad Phelps (Mexico, N.Y.)
1-Tyler Dippel (Wallkill, N.Y.)
1-Jackson Gill (Plessis, N.Y.)
2A-Mike Gular (Green Lake, Pa.)
2L-Jack Lehner (Saragota Springs, N.Y.)
R2-Rusty Smith (Bethlehem, Pa.)
3-Justin Haers (Phelps, N.Y.)
3B-Chad Brachmann (North Tonawanda, N.Y.)
3J-Marc Johnson (Guilderland, N.Y.)
4*-Kevin Root (Geneva, N.Y.)
5H-Chris Hile (Oswego, N.Y.)
8-Rich Scagliotta (Hillsborough, N.J.)
9S-Matt ShepPa.rd (Savannah, N.Y.)
14W-Ryan Watt (Boyertown, Pa.)
17D-Marcus Dinkins (Watkins Glen, N.Y.)
19M-Jessey Mueller (Olmstedville, N.Y.)
20-Brett Hearn (Sussex, N.J.)
21A-Peter Britten (Queensland, Australia)
22-Brandon Walters (Unadilla, N.Y.)
23-Kyle Coffey (Caledonia, N.Y.)
25R-Erick Rudolph (Ransomville, N.Y.)
27J-DanN.Y. Johnson (Phelps, N.Y.)
28-Jordan McCreadie (Watertown, N.Y.)
32C-Max McLaughlin (Mooresville, N.C.)
35-Mike Mahaney (Elizabethtown, N.Y.)
42P-Pa.t Ward (Genoa, N.Y.)
43-Keith Flach (Ravena, N.Y.)
43-Jimmy Horton (Neshanic Station, N.J.)
44-Stewart Friesen (Ontario, Canada)
48Too-Dave Rauscher (Waterloo, N.Y.)
66X-Carey Terrance (Hogansburg, N.Y.)
83-Brian Swartzlander (Leechburg, Pa.)
83JR-Tim Sears Jr. (Clay, N.Y.)
84-Gary Tomkins (Clifton Springs, N.Y.)
88-Mat Williamson (Ontario, Canada)
88JR-Olden Dwyer (Downal, Vt.)
91-Billy Decker (Unadilla, N.Y.)
93-Craig Mitchell (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
98H-Jimmy Phelps (Baldwinsville, N.Y.)
99L-Larry Wight (Fulton, N.Y.)
111-Demetrios Drellos (Queensbury, N.Y.)
118-Jimmy Britt (Newton Square, Pa.)