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Larson Cashes In on $50,000 Payday as He Picks Up His First Prairie Dirt Classic Victory

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Nick Hoffman

Nick Hoffman

Hoffman Holds off 17th Starter Weisser to Claim $5,000 Modified Nationals Win

Story by Mike Warren, WoO - Photos by Rocky Ragusa & WoO

larson pierceKyle Larson has made several trips to Victory Lane in his career on both dirt and asphalt. But he celebrated like it was the first time after winning the 31st Prairie Dirt Classic Saturday at Fairbury Speedway. The Elk Grove, CA driver, climbed to the roof of his car, grabbed two checkered flags, and waved them back and forth with excitement after holding off Bobby Pierce for the $50,000 prize.

“Yung Money” methodically worked his way to third from his seventh starting position, making his move for the lead on a Lap 27 restart. He dove to the bottom of the speedway, sliding up in front of Pierce as the Fairbury Speedway crowd let out a thunderous roar. Even though Larson led the final 70 laps of the Morton Buildings Feature, Pierce tried to chase him down until the end. The Oakwood, IL driver started closing in during the last 15 laps before Larson moved up a lane and drove away.

“I saw the big screen, and [Pierce] was getting close to me, so I knew I had to get up on the wheel,” Larson said. “I didn’t want to run the cushion all the way around the corner because I kept hitting the wall the last two days. So, I just decided to slide myself, and gosh, my car was really good.” The Prairie Dirt Classic triumph is Larson’s first career World of Outlaws Late Models win, adding to an already impressive 2021 season. He’s the only driver to win a Feature with both the World of Outlaws Late Models and World of Outlaws Sprint Cars.

“It’s definitely been a good year,” Larson said. “You know last year I won a lot of races, but I didn’t get a chance to run in the legit big ones. It was awesome to run Kings Royal and get a win there, and I didn’t get the win at “The Dream,” but I had a lot of fun. To come to the PDC, a race that I never thought I’d get the opportunity to race at, it feels awesome. To win a Crown Jewel in Late Models after winning my first Crown Jewel in Sprint Cars a couple of weeks ago, it’s awesome.“

Pierce held on for second after trying to catch Larson in the race’s final stages. The “Smooth Operator” stated he still needed to be perfect toward the end, even though he carried a lot of momentum. “Once we got going, I built my momentum up, I was catching him, and every lap was getting closer and closer,” Pierce said. “I thought if he stays down, we might have a shot, but I have to hit my marks perfectly. In that timeframe of me catching him, I think I was just hitting it perfect every corner, and he moved up. One lap later it could’ve been interesting.”

Shannon Babb, from Moweaqua, IL finished third, coming up short in his quest for a fourth Prairie Dirt Classic win. He hoped lap traffic would work in his favor allowing him to catch the top two. “The track changed a lot tonight, and we knew our car was going to be good on the bottom, but it was good everywhere,” Babb said. “We could definitely gain ground there at times, but we were just waiting to see what was going to unfold if the lap traffic would block them guys in.”

Chris Madden crossed the line fourth after charging into the top-five during the second half of the race. “Smokey” waited for the right moment to pounce and move up through the field until a late-race caution stopped his momentum. “I planned on just biding my time and not wearing my stuff out and letting them guys go to begin with,” Madden said. “We just picked them off here and there and had a really good race car, but I kind of let my right rear seal up on me [under caution], and I couldn’t get back going after that.”

Three-time and defending Series champion Brandon Sheppard finished fifth. The New Berlin, IL driver, was disappointed with how the night went, despite grabbing another top-five finish. “Really late in the race when my car came to me, I was a few spots too far back,” Sheppard said. “We just had to make the most out of it and made a few passes on the restarts and just came up short. It’s disappointing because we had a better car than where we finished.”

The Prairie Dirt Classic isn’t Kyle Larson’s first win, nor will it likely be his last. But taking the checkered flag at Fairbury Speedway is a feeling “Yung Money” will remember, as he tastes World of Outlaws Late Model glory for the first time.

RESULTS

Morton Buildings Feature (100 Laps) – 1. 6-Kyle Larson [7][$50,000]; 2. 32-Bobby Pierce [1][$15,000]; 3. 18-Shannon Babb [6][$10,000]; 4. 44-Chris Madden [9][$6,000]; 5. 1-Brandon Sheppard [10][$5,000]; 6. 49-Jonathan Davenport [8][$4,000]; 7. 42-Mckay Wenger [16][$3,750]; 8. 2s-Stormy Scott [4][$3,250]; 9. 76-Brandon Overton [20][$3,000]; 10. 9-Devin Moran [19][$2,750]; 11. 28-Dennis Erb [24][$2,500]; 12. 32S-Chris Simpson [13][$2,400]; 13. 18C-Chase Junghans [12][$2,300]; 14. 16-Tyler Bruening [15][$2,200]; 15. 19R-Ryan Gustin [3][$2,175]; 16. 0E-Rick Eckert [14][$2,150]; 17. 24-Ryan Unzicker [27][$2,125]; 18. 12-Ashton Winger [22][$2,100]; 19. 7-Ricky Weiss [23][$2,080]; 20. B1-Brent Larson [31][$110]; 21. 97-Cade Dillard [29][$110]; 22. 99JR-Frank Heckenast [17][$2,020]; 23. 0-Nick Hoffman [18][$2,000]; 24. 59-Garrett Alberson [21][$2,000]; 25. B12-Kevin Weaver [26][$2,000]; 26. 89-Mike Spatola [25][$2,000]; 27. 20-Jimmy Owens [5][$2,000]; 28. 99B-Boom Briggs [30][$110]; 29. 71-Hudson O’Neal [2][$2,000]; 30. 3S-Brian Shirley [11][$2,000]; 31. 25F-Jason Feger [28][$2,000]Hard Charger: 28-Dennis Erb[+13]

Last Chance Showdown 1 (20 Laps) – 1. 99JR-Frank Heckenast [1][-]; 2. 76-Brandon Overton [3][-]; 3. 7-Ricky Weiss [4][-]; 4. 14-Wil Herrington [9][$300]; 5. 97-Cade Dillard [6][]; 6. 22-Chris Ferguson [7][$450]; 7. 11H-Spencer Hughes [15][$375]; 8. T2-Todd Bennett [5][]; 9. 11-Gordy Gundaker [2][]; 10. 15V-Kolby Vandenbergh [12][$325]; 11. 7S-Jay Sparks [8][$110]; 12. 26M-Brent McKinnon [13][$110]; 13. 1M-Mike Mataragas [10][$110]; 14. 24-Ryan Unzicker [17][$110]; 15. 4G-Bob Gardner [11][$110]; 16. 3-Dale Markham [16][$110]; 17. T4-Adam Tishhouser [14][$110]; 18. 354-Chris Nash [19][$110]; 19. 35-Austin Simpson [20][$110]; 20. 79W-Greg Wagner [18][$110]

Last Chance Showdown 2 (20 Laps) – 1. 0-Nick Hoffman [1][-]; 2. 59-Garrett Alberson [9][-]; 3. 1st-Johnny Scott [13][-]; 4. B1-Brent Larson [5][$300]; 5. 10-Scott Schmitt [12][]; 6. 41-Jeremiah Hurst [2][$450]; 7. 25B-Mike Benedum [8][$375]; 8. 12C-Jeff Curl [15][]; 9. 51-Matt Furman [7][]; 10. 73-Ryan Weistart [16][$325]; 11. 162-Logan Moody [18][$110]; 12. B14-Victor Benedetto [19][$110]; 13. 40B-Kyle Bronson [17][$110]; 14. 35C-Derek Chandler [3][$110]; 15. 116-Torin Mettille [11][$110]; 16. 12Q-Brandon Queen [14][$110]; 17. B12-Kevin Weaver [6][$110]; 18. 20RT-Ricky Thornton [4][$110]; 19. 11T-Trevor Gundaker [10][$110]

Last Chance Showdown 3 ( 20 Laps) – 1. 9-Devin Moran [1][-]; 2. 12-Ashton Winger [7][-]; 3. 25F-Jason Feger [3][-]; 4. 61-Allen Weisser [4][$300]; 5. 28-Dennis Erb [6][]; 6. 45-Kyle Hammer [2][$450]; 7. 10S-Taylor Scheffler [15][$375]; 8. 89-Mike Spatola [9][]; 9. 99B-Boom Briggs [5][]; 10. 6S-Blake Spencer [14][$325]; 11. 111-Steven Roberts [13][$110]; 12. 9S-Eric Smith [10][$110]; 13. 2-Mike Chasteen [18][$110]; 14. 18L-Jeffrey Ledford [19][$110]; 15. 10J-Joseph Joiner [11][$110]; 16. 84-Myles Moos [16][$110]; 17. 25-Shane Clanton [8][$110]; 18. 9Z-Lyle Zanker [12][$110]; 19. 76S-Titus Sneed [17][$110]

Hoffman Holds off 17th Starter Weisser to Claim $5,000 Modified Nationals Win

Story by Jordan DeLucia, DIRTcar - Photo by Rocky Ragusa

hoffmanNick Hoffman has had one incredible weekend at FALS. Just days after getting the phone call to drive Dirt Late Model Hall-of-Famer Scott Bloomquist’s Drydene Team Zero Race Cars #0 in the 31st Prairie Dirt Classic, the three-time DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals champion went out and dominated the Modified competition Saturday night at Fairbury Speedway for his 19th tour victory of the season and second Modified PDC title of his career. “It’s just really cool to win here,” Hoffman, of Mooresville, NC, said. “It really shows – this deal is 63 of the best guys in the country, as far as UMP Modifieds go, and to come out on top just shows how good our racecar is and how good of a season we’ve been having.”

Just as he did back in June, Hoffman sailed his Elite Chassis #2 around the quarter-mile high banks with ease, leading all 40 laps en route to the $5,000 payday and his 57th career Summit Modified triumph. Hoffman set quick time in Qualifying on Friday night and won his Showdown Feature from the pole, setting him up for an outside-pole redraw result for Saturday’s Feature. He wasted zero time in getting out front at the drop of the green, muscling the lead away from polesitter Frank Marshall on Lap 1.

Hoffman was never seriously challenged for the lead until the closing stages, when a 17th-starting Allen Weisser made his presence known by zooming through the top-five on the very bottom of the racetrack. With the laps winding down and Hoffman several car-lengths ahead, Weisser’s comeback was running out of time to mount a charge for the lead. But then, a real shakeup. A caution flew for a slow car on the front stretch. Weisser lined up right behind Hoffman for the restart and gave it one last-ditch effort. Hoffman got the jump, but Weisser stayed within striking distance as he motored even harder around the bottom.

Hoffman knew Weisser was behind him, waiting to strike at the slightest mistake. So, he moved down a groove to protect the inside line and secure the victory. “I think I might’ve had something for him, but he just got such a good restart on that last run that he pulled me a little bit and it took me a lap or two to get going again,” Weisser, of Peoria, IL, said. “If we could’ve got a better restart, I think we would’ve had something for him.”

“Allen was really good around the bottom, which he always is here, if there’s just a little bit of grip down there. So, I moved down a little bit and ran the bottom in Turns 1-2 and the [top-middle] in 3-4,” Hoffman said.

Further on back, Tyler Nicely was in the thick of a battle for the final podium spot between he, Mike McKinney, Bobby Stremme and Kyle Steffens. Nicely had worked his way up to second, at one point, from seventh and looked to be competitive for the runner-up spot. However, he got hung out on the outside, a place he’s not often found racing, and drifted back a few positions.“We tried a few things this weekend, and I don’t think I was a big fan of it,” Nicely said. “We’re all out here trying a bunch of stuff, trying to catch Nick. “At the end, I just had to get up on the wheel on the top and see what I could do. That usually isn’t my cup of tea, but sometimes you’ve got to do it.” Nicely was able to get the third spot back before the checkers with a steady line on the middle-top groove, beating out Stremme and Steffens, who each rolled the bottom.

After putting in 40 laps worth of work in the Modified Feature, Hoffman strapped into the famed Drydene, Scott Bloomquist Racing, Team Zero Race Cars #0 for another grueling 100-laps around the high banks. He was victorious in Last Chance Showdown #2, punching his ticket into the big show and making him the only driver in the pit area to start both Features. Despite his split-attention throughout the event, Hoffman made it very clear where his focus was this weekend. “This was the opportunity of a lifetime to drive that #0 car, so the #2 car here was kind of on a stand-still,” Hoffman said. “Throughout the weekend, I probably spent 5-10 minutes on [the Modified]. I didn’t spend much time at all.”

RESULTS

Summit Racing Equipment Feature (40 Laps) – 1. 2-Nick Hoffman[2]; 2. 25W-Allen Weisser[17]; 3. 25-Tyler Nicely[7]; 4. 53S-Bobby Stremme[10]; 5. 8-Kyle Steffens[8]; 6. 96M-Mike McKinney[16]; 7. 99-Hunt Gossum[11]; 8. 7A-Justin Allgaier[3]; 9. 8K-Levi Kissinger[13]; 10. 3L-Jeff Leka[18]; 11. 28M-Frank Marshall[1]; 12. 1S-Brian Shaw[20]; 13. 757-Bradley Jameson[19]; 14. 5CS-Curt Spalding[4]; 15. T6-Tommy Sheppard Jr[21]; 16. 59R-Jacob Rexing[22]; 17. 77-Ray Bollinger[12]; 18. 4-Victor Lee[14]; 19. 24H-Mike Harrison[5]; 20. 242-Brandon Bollinger[6]; 21. 1W-Bob Pohlman[9]; 22. 37-Michael Ledford[23]; 23. 22C-Nick Clubb[15]; 24. 9H-John Demoss[24]

Last Chance Showdown 1 (15 Laps) – 1. 25W-Allen Weisser[1]; 2. 757-Bradley Jameson[10]; 3. 5-Steven Brooks[2]; 4. T6-Tommy Sheppard Jr[7]; 5. 7-Tim Nash[13]; 6. 84-Ryan Toole[11]; 7. 24B-Brent Weaver[9]; 8. 0-Travis Kohler[22]; 9. 32-Mason Duncan[17]; 10. 35-Ethan Weber[21]; 11. 64-Dawson Cook[19]; 12. 62PAP-Kim Edington[20]; 13. 71R-Troy Ricketts[18]; 14. 11S-Nick Seplak[5]; 15. 83-Kasey Schrock[24]; 16. 96-Curtis Rodenhaber[15]; 17. 59R-Jacob Rexing[3]; 18. 15-Chris Smith[4]; 19. 48-Adam Pockrus[6]; 20. 12-Wyatt Harms[8]; 21. (DNS) 36-Eric Vaughan; 22. (DNS) 1L-Dave Lilja; 23. (DNS) 27C-Justin Cundiff; 24. (DNS) 463-Daniel Sanchez

Last Chance Showdown 2 (15 Laps) – 1. 3L-Jeff Leka[2]; 2. 1S-Brian Shaw[4]; 3. 9H-John Demoss[1]; 4. 88S-Alan Stipp[7]; 5. 21D-Danny Schwartz[19]; 6. 82- Jacob Poel[15]; 7. 34W-James Walters[6]; 8. 777-Trevor Neville[16]; 9. 19-Travis Thrasher[13]; 10. 14-Caden McWhorter[5]; 11. 0J-Garrett Jameson[10]; 12. K67-Ian Keller[22]; 13. 28-Rodney Standerfer[23]; 14. 3-Mike Brooks[12]; 15. 18-Jarrett Stryker[20]; 16. 99W-Chris Arnold[8]; 17. 17-Mike Mosier[18]; 18. 37-Michael Ledford[14]; 19. 42-Bob Baldwin[21]; 20. 121-Deece Schwartz[3]; 21. (DNS) K19-Will Krup; 22. (DNS) 61-Chris Osborne Jr; 23. (DNS) 1-Nash Hilmes


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