Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Sports

November 16, 2012

BOWMAN: Youngster has look of next ‘big thing’

Larson talks about his hectic 2012 and how tough it is to win at Kokomo.

Last Friday night, nearly 48 hours before Jeff Gordon pulled his best Cole Trickle imitation during the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Phoenix International Raceway, young Kyle Larson showed why he is considered by most in the business as being the next dominant driver.

In just his third career start aboard a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ride, Larson was just a caution away from scoring yet another victory, which would add to his growing resume that is matched by a very select few, if any.

In the truck race, Larson seemed to have things under control until a caution in the last few laps closed the field and allowed Brian Scott to get a strong run and take home the win. Larson showed his versatility a night later in the Western Classic for the USAC Mopar National Midget Series at the Canyon Raceway Park, getting by Zach Daum on the sixth lap, then waltzing to a convincing 30-lap win.

Talking to Larson late in the summer at the Kokomo Speedway, the well-spoken youngster touched on a myriad of things, including his goal of setting a record for the most races competed in during a season.

“With all of the rainouts early on this season it kind of set my goal back a little,” he explained. “Originally my plan was to participate in 132 races over the summer. Now, it looks like it might be around 120 or so, but it sure has been tough.

“There have been many times that I have raced in California then as soon as the race was over, I would get cleaned up and head to the airport to catch a red-eye flight back to Indianapolis. Once I got there, someone from my team would pick me up then we would load up the sprint car and head here to Kokomo.”

Larson admitted that he has a bit of a love-hate relationship with the local oval.

“Without a doubt, Kokomo Speedway has the toughest weekly program of any track in the country,” he stated. “The talent that comes to that track week in and week out is tough to top. The thing is, any driver can win there on any given night. I know that of all the tracks I have raced at, running around the top at Kokomo is probably the most intimidating of them all, especially in turns one and two. The cushion is right up on the fence and you have to talk yourself into running up there but you about have to do it because that is the fastest way around.”

“That’s the thing that was so special when I won there early in the season,” he said. “I’ve won a lot of big races at a lot of the bigger tracks across the country, but to win a weekly show at Kokomo will always stick out in my mind as one of the biggest highlights of my racing career.”

Larson had a year in 2011 which most could only dream about and even with that, it would seem to be a bit far-fetched. Last year alone he scored wins in USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series competition as well as the Mopar National Midget Series and the Traxxas Silver Crown Series. If that wasn’t enough he also picked up a win aboard a winged World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series as well as an ASCS Series event. To put the icing on the cake, at the annual running of the 4-Crown Nationals at the Eldora Speedway, he simply stole the show, scoring wins in all three of USAC’s portion of the 4-Crown, nearly matching Jack Hewitt’s feat when he won everything in one night, including the U.M.P. Modified feature.

His non-wing sprint car career looks to be on hold now, however. At the 2012 version of the 4-Crown, while competing in the sprint car main event, he was involved in one of the more scary looking crashes seen at the track in years. He jumped the turn two cushion in his Hoffman Racing No. 69, and flipped directly into the path of another car which literally destroyed both machines. Although he walked away under his own power, Chip Ganassi, who has signed him to a developmental contract, pretty much let it be known that he no longer wanted his prized up-and-coming star wrestling around in a sprint car without a wing.

Although that is bad news for us traditional sprint car fans, Larson probably cares less than us fans do since he noted that winged sprint cars are really his passion anyway.

“If I had to choose,” he said while sitting on a right rear tire in the pits at Kokomo prior to the finale of the Sprint Car Smackdown. “I would rather race the winged cars. They are really a lot of fun to drive and they are just so fast. Ideally, I would like the opportunity to chase the entire World of Outlaw circuit and compete in all the races on their schedule. They race a few times each week and that’s exactly what I would like to do. But, I have some races lined up in the truck series and the K&N Series [NASCAR K&N East Series, which he clinched the title in a couple weeks back] so I’m just going to see what happens and go from there.”

Having proved that he can win in anything he climbs aboard, it’s just a matter of time before we’ll be pulling for him each Sunday afternoon with the likes of Dale Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.

Gordon-Bowyer

Just a follow up on what Ken de la Bastide noted in his column this week on the penalty handed down to Jeff Gordon after he intentionally blasted Clint Bowyer with two laps to go at Phoenix, thus ruining any hopes that Bowyer may have had of leap-frogging Brad Keselowlski and Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR takes away 25 points from Gordon. So what?

He had no chance of competing for the title this year anyway and his temper tantrum nearly collected Keselowski as well, which would have all but assured Johnson of a sixth title. If NASCAR truly wanted to make a statement, deduct 50 points at least and apply the loss to the start of the 2013 season at the Daytona 500. That would make any driver think twice about doing something like Gordon did Sunday.

The thing I noticed while watching numerous replays of the incident in question was that Gordon looked to crash himself. The initial contact with Bowyer was minimal, something that you see just about every lap somewhere on the track. When Gordon crashed though was when he was trying to clip Bowyer’s right rear quarter panel and failed which resulted in him getting sideways and into the wall.

Although I’ve never been a huge fan of Gordon’s, I always respected his ability. Now though, I hold him only slightly above Kurt Busch on my list of NASCAR drivers. As for NASCAR, although publicly they are saying and doing all the politically correct things, it’s a safe bet that the brass is pinching themselves behind closed doors realizing that chances are pretty good that television ratings will definitely go up for this Sunday’s final race of the season.

Brett Bowman may be reached by email at brettbowman29@aol.com or through the sports department.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • SPL - KT041814 - Prep roundup - pic Prep roundup for Friday, April 18 Tanner Guyer and Sam Seagrave led the way as Kokomo's boys golf team scored a win in its season opener Thursday at Kokomo Country Club.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sports briefs for Friday, April 18 Kokomo High School will host the 2014 Howard County free physicals from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on May 14.

    April 18, 2014

  • SPL - KT041714 Kokomo-Western baseball - pic 2 Kats top Panthers in baseball Since the inception of class sports, the annual early-season baseball matchup between Kokomo and Western had been solely for in-county bragging rights. With Western moving up to Class 4A for the next two seasons because of the IHSAA's new success factor, the rivals met up Wednesday as potential sectional opponents for the first time since 1997.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prep roundup for Thursday, April 17 Eastern junior Caleb Aaron tossed a four-hitter to lead the Comets past Northwestern 3-1 in a Howard County baseball clash Wednesday at Greentown.

    April 17, 2014

  • SPL - KT041714 - B1 briefs - Edwards mug Sports briefs for Thursday, April 17 The North Central Conference on Wednesday announced Indianapolis Arsenal Tech will join the conference on April 1, 2015.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - KT041614 - Boys golf preview - secondary pic BOYS GOLF: Howard County preview Western's boys golf team is thinking big this season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - KT041614 Girls tennis Preview - pic GIRLS TENNIS: Howard County preview After 39 seasons and counting as the boys tennis coach at Taylor High School, Dave Wise is entering his 24th season leading the Titan girls.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041614 - Western hires coaches - mug Western hires football, volley coaches Western High School's search for a new football coach is over. Western on Tuesday named Ron Jankovich its new coach during a board meeting. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for Bethel University in Tennessee. He was the Wildcats' co-offensive coordinator.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041614 - Brett Bowman column - Bowman ID BOWMAN: Abreu shines in Kokomo GP Although he might be short in size, California's Rico Abreu was tall in stature after dominating the two-day Kokomo Grand Prix for the USAC Honda National Midget Series and the Lucas Oil Powri National Midgets over the weekend at the Kokomo Speedway.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041514 - Kokomo girls BB coach - mug Cusick is Lady Kats' new coach Heather Cusick is enjoying a pretty good month. Kokomo High School on Monday selected Cusick as its new girls basketball coach. Three days earlier, she became engaged to Michael Mygrant.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

NCAA Men's Basketball Poll
Featured Ads
SportsKT twitter
More kokomotribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.