ROSSBURG, Ohio – Rallying from a penalty that put him a lap down, Kyle Larson roared to victory Wednesday night in the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby.
It was the Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s first victory in three attempts at the Camping World Truck Series race held at the half-mile oval, the only dirt race in a NASCAR national series.
In his previous two tries at Eldora in this event, Larson had been passed by the winner on the race’s final lead change.
“It means a lot,” Larson told FS1 in victory lane. “Especially losing the way I did the two years I didn’t.”
Larson was penalized a lap by NASCAR, which ruled he brought out an intentional caution with a lazy spin after catching a flat tire while leading on Lap 51.
Christopher Bell, who won in 2015, finished second.
“Overall good day for us,” Bell said. “Larson’s been here a long time trying. It’s an honor to be here.”
It was the second career win in 11 truck starts for Larson, who also won at Rockingham in 2013.
HOW LARSON WON: Larson took the lead on a restart with 30 laps remaining and fended off charges by Bell and Bobby Pierce, the top two finishers in last year’s race.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: After crashing in the third heat race, Rico Abreu rebounded to finish second in the last chance qualifier and then roared from 27th to third in the main event. … Pierce, the runner-up last year, put on a show in leading more than 100 laps and his final pass of Larson – briefly taking first – might have been the most impressive. Unfortunately, Pierce bounced off the wall and was knocked out of the race by a flat tire.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Timothy Peters was involved in a multitruck crash and finished 27th, dropping a spot in the standings. … John Hunter Nemechek struggled to a 24th and fell two positions in the points. .. Rookie sensation William Byron had a tough race in his dirt debut, crashing twice, but salvaged a 14th.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “He’s by far the most talented guy I’ve ever seen in my life. Growing up watching him race, and I was a step behind him, but just seeing what he could do. He could hop in cars for the first time and just be able to win off the bat. He’s by far the most talented guy I’ve ever seen. He can just run so hard and on the edge for so long and do it so effortlessly. His 100 percent is everyone else’s 150 percent. ” – Christopher Bell on Kyle Larson
WHAT’S NEXT: The series will return Saturday, July 30 at Pocono Raceway (green flag is 1:21 p.m. ET).