Kyle Larson begins Knoxville Nationals run Thursday night


Kyle Larson, coming off his NASCAR Cup win last weekend at Watkins Glen International, begins his quest for his first Knoxville Nationals sprint car title tonight at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.

Larson will compete in the second night of preliminary events, leading to Saturday night’s main event. Defending Knoxville Nationals champion David Gravel won the feature in Wednesday’s preliminary event.

Larson finished second in the event in 2017 and was third in 2018. He did not make the Knoxville Nationals main event in 2019. The race was not held in 2020 because of COVID-19. Instead, the track held an event called “The One and Only.”

Larson said before last year’s event that if he won it, he would probably still consider himself a Nationals winner. But after winning that event, Larson found that he didn’t feel that way.

“Last year I thought it would be feel the same, but it definitely didn’t,” he said. “Glad that things are back to normal to where we, all of us competitors and fans and everybody, can go there and live through Nationals like it really is Nationals. I think the atmosphere will be there again, probably even bigger than it was in the past. Glad I get the opportunity to run it. Hopefully we can be as strong as we were last year.”

Larson said of the Knoxville Nationals that “outside of NASCAR, I think that’s the one (race)” on his bucket list remaining after he’s won the Chili Bowl Nationals (2020 and 2021) and King’s Royal (2021).

Points will determine the majority of starers for the 60th Knoxville Nationals. Drivers are awarded points based on how they perform in their preliminary night in qualifying and races. The top 16 in combined points from Wednesday and Thursday are locked into Saturday’s main event. The top four finishers from Friday’s feature make the Saturday main event and four finishers from Saturday’s B main make the main event for a 24-car field for the 50-lap race.

The winner of Saturday’s Knoxville Nationals receives $150,000 of a purse of more than $1 million.

Dirtvision is streaming the Knoxville Nationals and all the preliminary events.