Roger Diez: Kyle Larson breaks through at Chili Bowl
Kyle Larson finally broke Christopher Bell’s three-year Chili Bowl winning streak last Saturday night, but it wasn’t easy. Larson brushed the wall three laps from the end with Bell in hot pursuit but was able to hang onto the lead until the checker. Given Larson’s background in short-track open wheel dirt single-seaters, it was perhaps the most important victory in his career. He said as much on the podium with an apology to NASCAR for favorably comparing the victory to winning the Daytona 500. Minden’s pride, Tanner Thorson, started on the pole alongside Bell, but had faded to eighth when the car quit on him in the closing laps. He finished 22nd.
From a sprint race on a short dirt oval to a 24-hour endurance contest on Daytona’s combination oval/infield road course, the variety of auto racing is on display this month. Coverage of the 58th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona will begin today at 10:30 a.m. on NBC and will switch to the NBC Sports Network from 11:30 until 3 p.m. NBCSN will pick up the action again at 8 p.m. until midnight, again from 3 until 9 a.m. on Sunday, when NBC will pick up the coverage for three hours to cover the finish and post-race interviews. The Team Joest Mazda Daytona Prototype international (Dpi) cars will start first and third with the No. 77 on pole, sandwiching the No. 6 Penske Acura, while the No. 7 Penske team car is mired in 20th after crashing heavily at the bus stop during qualifying. The No. 52 PR1 Motorsports Oreca is on the Lemans Prototype 2 (LMP2) pole, the No. 911 Porsche Motorsports 911 RS-19 has the Grand Touring Lemans (GTLM pole), and the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) polesitter is the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R.
I was unable to attend the meeting at Fernley 95A Speedway last Tuesday evening due to recovering from knee surgery, but my fellow motorsports writer Dan McGee was there and filled me in on the highlights. The new owners, Sam Marson and Daniel Blair, have ambitious plans for the facility, starting with the new motocross track opening this weekend. The 3/8-mile clay oval rule will copy Fallon rules for car preparation, and the schedule has been readjusted to eliminate conflicting dates with Fallon, Lovelock, and other nearby tracks. The track banking will be reduced to better hold moisture, and the hope is to increase car counts significantly with reduced fees for pit crew members.
The road course is scheduled for repaving this year, and they are looking at reactivating the outlaw kart course, which may also be used for ¾ midgets. Plans are also in the works for a possible UTV track as well. The plan is to rebuild the facility as an all-around motorsports facility that welcomes all forms of the sport. Key to this will be establishing relationships and partnering with local businesses as sponsors, suppliers, and patrons.
The schedule calls for a test and tune on March 21 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., with the first race on April 4 starting at 3 p.m. The next race, on April 18, will also begin at 3 p.m., and then the start time will change to 6 p.m. for the May 2 race. There are three races scheduled in May, two in June, two in July, three in August, two in September, and the annual two-day shoot out in October. Special events such as mud bog races and demolition derbies are also being considered. Check out the track’s Facebook page, Fernley Ninetyfivea Speedway for updated information.