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Kyle Larson finishes 3rd to wrap up New Zealand trip; Chili Bowl next

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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.

 

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.

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Christopher Bell wins World Midget 50 Lapper in New Zealand

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Christopher Bell beat out Michael Pickens Saturday in the World Midget 50 Lapper at Western Springs Speedway in New Zealand.

Bell started first but quickly lost the lead to Pickens.

Bell overtook Pickens for the lead on Lap 20 and led the rest of the way.

Kyle Larson, who won a 39-lap feature two nights ago over Bell, wrecked on Lap 43 and did not finish.

Saturday’s race concluded a stretch of six midget races in 11 nights in New Zealand. In that span Bell also won two sprint races in addition to Saturday’s win. Larson won two midget races.

Results

Christopher Bell wins sprint feature with last-lap pass; Kyle Larson wins midget race

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Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson were both victorious Sunday in sprint and midget races at Western Springs Speedway in Auckland, New Zealand.

Bell won the 25-lap sprint feature with a daring last-lap pass of Michael Pickens which had to be reviewed by officials for grass usage. Bell passed Pickens on the inside in the final turn after running second for the entire race.

The victory follows Bell’s sprint win at the track on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what to say, I didn’t expect that one,” Bell told Speed Shift TV afterward.

You can watch the race in the above video.

Results

Bell’s win was preceded by Larson trouncing the field in the World 30-Lap Midget Derby, beating Bell by .837 seconds.

Larson defended his win in the race last year.

Results

Kyle Larson finishes New Zealand swing with win, earns 3 checkers in 4 races

Photo courtesy Kyle Larson Instragram page
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If he was a baseball player, Kyle Larson just completed a road trip with a fantastic .750 batting average – all home runs, you might say.

The NASCAR Cup star on Friday completed a four-race exhibition series racing his midget car in New Zealand – two other races were rained out – with a win Friday at Western Springs Speedway in Auckland, N.Z.

It was Larson’s third win in the four races he was able to compete in that race did not interfere. He spun out late in the only race he did not win.

Larson boarded a plane early today to fly back across the Pacific Ocean, destination Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he’ll take part in next week’s 32nd annual Chili Bowl.