After feasting on New Zealand food – and midget car racing – for the last 11 days, Kyle Larson now has a hankering for chili.
As in the Chili Bowl, which runs from Jan. 13-18 at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver leaves New Zealand after finishing third in the finale of his trip down under, Sunday’s World 50 Lap Classic at the .285-mile Western Springs Speedway dirt track.
Hometown product and eight-time New Zealand national midget champion Michael Pickens won the race (the 66th time in his career that he’s won at his home track), leading the final 24 laps and holding off American driver Tyler Courtney by a commanding 4.103 seconds.
When your standing between these two in victory lane you know you've had a pretty good night!!!! pic.twitter.com/9zhkPnWYdF
— Michael Pickens (@MPickensRacing) January 6, 2020
CHECKERED FLAG 🏁: For the 7th time, @MPickensRacing wins the World 50 Lapper @SpringsSpeedway🇳🇿 pic.twitter.com/hayUuyyvjv
— Speed Shift TV 🎥🏁 (@SpeedShiftTV) January 5, 2020
But Courtney was victorious in another way: in the six races ran over the last 11 days, he won twice and totaled enough points to earn the 2019-20 United Trucks Parts International Midget Series championship.
Larson finished third to round out the podium of Sunday’s event, followed by Australian Kaidon Brown and another American, Zach Daum.
Larson did capture one win during the six-race slate, on Jan. 1.
But Larson will be back in the area again in a little over two weeks – he’s hoping after he wins the Chili Bowl. He’ll be heading back over the Pacific Ocean in his first trip to Australia since 2016 to take part in several sprint car races.
Larson’s schedule includes the President’s Cup at Avalon Raceway (Jan. 22), the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway (Jan. 23) and the biggest sprint car race of the year in Australia, the Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic at Premier Speedway in Warmambool, Victoria (Jan. 24-26).
In that finale, Larson will be teamed with a familiar face, Carson Macedo, who drives for Larson on the World of Outlaws Series and finished sixth in the points and won rookie of the year honors this past season.
Then it’s back to the good old USA for Larson to begin preparations for the Daytona 500.