Former series rookie of the year gives Kyle Larson his first victory as car owner
Well, that didn't take long. In its much-anticipated World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series debut on Friday night at Eldora Speedway, Shane Stewart dominated in the Larson-Marks ride to give Kyle Larson his first win as a car owner.
The team was strong all night from a top-10 qualifying effort to a heat race victory and ultimately leading all 30 laps of the A-main.
Current World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship leader Joey Saldana finished second with Paul McMahan, quick-timer Kerry Madsen and Dale Blaney rounding out the top five.
Kraig Kinser led the field to green, but Stewart used his outside front-row position in his GoPro-sponsored car to line himself up for a charge at the lead on the high side in turns 1 and 2. Stewart then raced to the bottom of the historic high-banked, half-mile oval and swept past Kinser and into the lead.
With Stewart and Kinser out front, a couple of Kings Royal winners, Saldana and Blaney, battled each other for third. Saldana wheeled the Motter Equipment #71M around the top while Blaney worked the bottom. The two entered traffic just after lap five and while navigating lapped traffic Blaney earned the position on lap eight, but he wasn't done there. The following lap Blaney passed Kinser for second place.
As Stewart worked in and out of traffic, Blaney would pull close yet fall back. Blaney was closing the gap on lap 17 when a caution for new full-time Outlaw David Gravel after he broke a bolt in the throttle.
On the restart Stewart, who was series' top rookie in 2005, chose the outside line with Blaney to his inside. Stewart and Saldana, who started third, road the rim of the track with Stewart shooting back to the lead. The rest of the race ran caution free and Stewart cruised to the checkered flag.
"This is such a surreal … sorry," started an emotional Stewart of Bixby, Okla., in victory lane. "It's been quite a rollercoaster for me the last couple of years, and it was a tough decision to come here, I had a couple of good offers on the table and thank god I picked this one, huh? I know we're going to have our bumps and bruises, but to come here and win with the field of cars that are here … my car was on a rail."
In turn three Saldana used a strong run around the top to take second position by driving around Blaney.
"I thought I did [have something for him], until we got into traffic and then he was 'see you later,'" said Saldana, of Brownsburg, Ind. "That's a great car that finished ahead of us, a great team, that's a great driver and I wouldn't expect anything else out of Shane Stewart but a win on that. I loved watching my dad race here and all the old time guys so when I come here it's kind of like going back in time for me and I can kind of revisit the days when those guys were running around out here."
On lap 22 McMahan used a slide job to take the third position behind the wheel of the CJB Motorsports #51.
"We had a good race car," said McMahan, of Nashville, Tenn. "It's great for Shane [Stewart], I've been in his shoes where people doubted you and didn't believe in you. Kyle believes in Shane and Shane is a great racecar driver. We gave it all we had, I was going to try to slide it in on Joe I thought he might go to the top and he was trying to lap cars and went to the middle and it got real tight there off of four and I spun the tires real bad on exit and he got away from me. It's a solid third place finish tonight.
Saldana remains the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship leader by 19 points over Paul McMahan. Donny Schatz sits in third place trailing by 34 points and 2013 champion, Daryn Pittman is in fourth, one point behind Schatz.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series is back in action tomorrow night again at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series