Kyle Larson Adds BC39 to his Trophy Case

Photo Courtesy: Penske Entertainment
Photo Courtesy: Penske Entertainment

This is Kyle Larson’s year – or it will be if he keeps winning and securing good finishes in every racing undertaking he enters. Not only is the Californian, who looked to be permanently out of work in 2020 after insensitive comments he made ejected him from one of Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolet cars, joining Hendrick Motorsports and winning and placing well enough to lead the points in NASCAR Cup Series competition, he’s been on a tear in USAC open wheel racing as well.

That certainly held true this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where, not only did he finish third in a crazy Verizon 200 at the Brickyard last Sunday, but Larson earned the Stoops Pursuit victory on Wednesday night during the Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink two-evening event on quarter-mile The Dirt Track at IMS, located inside the third turn of the venerable 2.5-mile oval track.

He added another notch to his growing list of accomplishments on Thursday evening by surviving a late bump to win the BC39 and complete his IMS dirt competition sweep. The 39-lap battle wasn’t an easy win for Larson who made it look that way after surviving the final restarts in an action-packed night of racing.

The NASCAR Cup Series points leader was running in second and had placed his USAC Midget on the cushion with five laps to go. At that point Thomas Meseraull slid into Larson, contact that broke Meseraull’s right front wheel and ended his night after leading much of the race. Still, after surviving that contact, Larson had to hold off Justin Grant and Brady Bacon in what he described as “chaos” on the penultimate, 38th lap.


“I had a thought of what I wanted to do and I kind of screwed it all up on that last restart,” Larson said. “I slid myself [high] a few times and I should’t have been doing that, but I knew Justin was on top in Turns 1 and 2 there. I slammed the curb every time in [turn] 4 and then Brady got to my inside and Justin was there. It was just wild,” Larson exclaimed. “I did not do a good job there on that restart but, thankfully put a decent last lap together and snuck through for the win. I’ll take it.”

Since winning NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 30th, Larson has taken his Chevrolet to Victory Lane in four additional Cup races won the Kings Royal and Knoxville Nationals in a Sprint car and the Prairie Dirt Classic in a late model, after opening the year by winning the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at Tulsa.

For his two-day USAC competition at Indy, Larson earned $15,000 for Thursday’s victory after securing the $3,000 prize for winning the Stoops Pursuit. Larson won the Pursuit race in 2019 but this BC39 victory is his first main event win at IMS. “This event has grown into something really big, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Larson said as he thanked IMS management, including an on-site owner Roger Penske.

“It was cool to win this race and honor Bryan,” he said of Bryan Clauson, the honoree of the event, who made three Indianapolis 500 starts on the oval track. Clauson lost his life five years ago – in August – following a crash in the Belleville Midget Nationals. “Putting a little bullring here in the infield is really cool. These midgets are so much fun and so fun on a little track like this. The track build is great, so hats off to the whole crew here. That was so much fun.”

Grant understood the difficulties in getting past Larson to earn the win Thursday night. “Man, I hate running second to this guy,” he said. “He’s good playing the slider game and doing that (high line) in [turn] 4. He does it as good or better than anyone.”

Larson was one of many non-USAC regulars who worked their way through the Stoops Pursuit on Wednesday and the many qualifying races. Of the 25 racers in the main event Chase Briscoe, who normally wields the No. 14 Ford for Stewart Haas Racing in NASCAR’s Cup series and who was in the thick of last Sunday’s road-course event at IMS, took 11th in the main event. Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champ Chase Elliott, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, was out of action after the B-Main; he was classified 18th in that prelim. 2013 Brickyard 400 winner Ryan Newman finished 14th in the C-Main. NTT IndyCar Series racer Conor Daly was eliminated in the second D-Main after finishing seventh. Only the top three racers went on to the C-Main.

Clauson Marshall Racing teased the crowd at The Dirt Tack at IMS with a renumbered car for Thursday night’s action. It featured the No. 18, leading many to speculate that a mystery racer might be fielding the car. This was the car honorary starter Jeff Gordon drove in exhibition laps but the name was that of Roger Penske, IMS’ owner, who has 18 victories in the Indianapolis 500. Although Penske might have wanted to don a helmet and drive the midget, wiser heads prevailed and he did not.

About Anne Proffit 1248 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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