Mike Larrison probably didn’t know any better. He probably didn’t know about how treacherous the high banks of the Slinger Super Speedway can be. After all, a sprint car has never raced on the world’s fastest quarter mile oval before. Then again, Mike Larrison had never raced there before either. What is even more amazing is Mike had only raced a sprint car six previous times in his career.
Race number seven was definitely the lucky one, as Larrison made a bold if not extreme pass of leader Kyle Flint on lap 44, and held on to win the inaugural Xtreme Sprint Car Series feature.
“A couple of the lappers got tangled up there and I just kind of went in there and hoped it would work,” said Larrison. “It worked out, and I wanted it so bad. These TruFuel guys and Beast, and Jim and Dave and all the guys worked so hard. I’m finally catching on.”
The hard work paid off, but it almost never had the chance.
Kyle Flint and Hank Lower led the world’s fastest quarter mile field to the green flag with Flint getting a huge early jump. Flint powered past Lower on the high side headed into turn one and quickly pulled away from the field. He built up a full straightaway lead by the sixth lap, while Lower seemed to be holding up the field ever so slightly. That isn’t easy to say with these cars covering the high banks in just 10.5 seconds for most of the race.
While Flint was distancing himself from the pack, the rest of the lineup began shuffling behind him. Jason Cox and Mike Larrison made their way around Jason Blonde for third and fourth place, as the first ever trio of sub 10 second lap qualifiers Troy DeCaire, Ryan Litt, and new World Record Holder Jeff Bloom began to show why they were so fast.
The race’s first yellow would fly on lap 26 when Lower got loose in turn four. Ryan Litt and Jason Cox had to take evasive action to avoid contact, but to no avail. Cox barely clipped Litt’s car, but it was enough to send Cox hard into the turn four wall.
The caution erased Flint’s commanding lead, but the best was yet to come.
Flint would get the jump on the restart, and slowly build his lead back up. Larrison got just as good a jump and quickly got around Lower and into second place. Flint’s lead grew to half a straightaway at first, but Larrison began to reel him back in. As Larrison was gaining, he was helped by slower traffic. Flint tried to go to the high side around the slower cars, and Larrison made a bonsai dive deep to the inside of turn one. Luckily the car stuck to the bottom and Larrison was able to slide up in front of Flint coming off of turn two.
Now it would be Larrison’s turn to dominate the race, as he would build up a slight lead. He was gradually pulling away from Flint, while Jeff Bloom was beginning to make his presence known.
Bloom was reeling in Flint as he came upon the lapped car of Jim Swain. Swain apparently didn’t want to be passed, and ran Bloom harder than Bloom expected. Both cars tried to enter turn three at the same point with nearly disastrous results. Heavy contact between the cars sent Swain into the turn three wall, while completely flattening the front wing on Bloom’s mount.
This yellow bunched up the field and set the stage for a seven lap shootout.
Larrison was not going to be denied on this night, and got a huge advantage at the drop of the green flag. He quickly pulled away and was never challenged. Flint held on for second, while Bloom nursed his wounded car home in third. Troy DeCaire finished in fourth, while Tim Cox rounded out the top five.
The victory was Larrison’s first career win and only his seventh career start in the series.
“This is a pretty awesome track, it’s like a mini Bristol,” said Larrison. “It’s real fast. The Trufuel car was perfect. I could go anywhere I wished. This is only the seventh race I’ve ever run in one of these things, and these guys got me to the front. The car ran awesome. I could go inside, outside, anywhere I needed to go. I mean it really wasn’t hard. You just worry about the traffic ‘cause they really slow you up.”
Yet being only his seventh ever race, and first at Slinger, was he even just a bit scared?
“You always are, but you just drive it,” said Larrison.
Flint was a tad mad at himself for giving up the lead.
“I was trying to get around two lapped cars,” explained Flint. “They were racing for position and I just got a little too high and I lost it and he (Larrison) sneaked under me in turns three and four, so it was just an unlucky break. Traffic was a big problem all night. You had so many slower cars and you catch them so fast it’s hard to get around them when they race each other too. It just causes a big bottleneck. I should have done a little better even through traffic and I would’ve won it.”
Despite his self admonishment, Flint still loved the experience.
“It was a great experience to come here. It’s a fun little track to come to, it’s really racy, tow wide racing and a lot of fun. The lapped traffic kind of gets in the way a couple times, but overall it’s just a nice fun track to come to.”
Jeff Bloom’s third place run left him thinking he had even more in him. Then again, after setting a new world record for a quarter mile oval with a lap of 9.908, Bloom felt there was room for more.
“I’ve heard about this place but had never actually been here and seen the track,” said Bloom. “I heard it was a real high banked quarter mile and it was real fast so I set the car up for a high banked race track. We were close and I really didn’t change it. I was pretty close never having seen the track. During qualifying I lifted. I ran half throttle in the corners and full throttle getting in. I had to pull out to half throttle, then squeezed it back down. There’s enough banking here and with some more time I think I could get to where I could run around here wide open. That would knock another three tenths off.”
Could a lap of 9.6 or better still be run here?
“I think it would be close. Today it was really hot and high humidity,” explained Bloom. “On a cool night either in the spring or fall when the track is more abrasive, I think it would be close. I didn’t get to use the whole motor, and I didn’t use the right gear, so if the track had been more abrasive I would’ve put more gear in it. I think if we ran here a few more times we could get close to 9.50 if not quite there.”