By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
It’s hard to define the offseason for Kyle Larson. Larson, like several other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers traveled to New Zealand to race midgets before returning to the United States for the Chili Bowl Nationals. He competed with NASCAR’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kasey Kahne, Justin Allgaier, J.J. Yeley, and Christopher Bell, along with numerous dirt regulars.
However, running the Chili Bowl is not an easy task.
Stenhouse was unharmed after his midget flipped into the catch fencing after contact with another car. Allgaier also ran into his own issues, spinning with another car. Neither Kahne nor Yeley made it all the way through the ‘Alphabet Soup’ to the A Main.
Larson doesn’t think that competing in the Chili Bowl would be easy for most of NASCAR’s competitors,
“I don’t think that it would be risky for them to do it, but it’s hard to go and run a big race like that,” he said. “I’ve thought about running big dirt late model races, but I can’t even get the courage to go do it. I don’t want to embarrass myself, not having practiced or raced it before. So, it would be really tough for a NASCAR guy to go there and have expectations or anything like that. I’m sure race fans would have expectations for them. I would love to see everyone give it a try because it’s a huge event. They’re amazing cars to drive, and I think they’d be amazed by the power they have compared to what they’re used to.”
While some of their competitors experienced troubles, Bell and Larson were the class of the Chili Bowl field. The duo swapped the lead back and forth several times. Bell was looking to go back-to-back in the Chili Bowl, while Larson was looking for his first Golden Driller. However, Larson’s engine failed, preventing him from reaching the checkered flag, allowing Bell, the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion to cruise to victory.
“The Chili Bowl, with the track being so small, it’s not random,” Larson added. “I’ve blown up there in the past. Being a small track, you would think they wouldn’t blow up as easily. There’s also no rev limiter rule at the Chili Bowl, so we’re twisting the engines a little bit harder there, turning more RPMs. That also makes it harder on the engines, but they changed valve springs after Tuesday night. The engine was pretty fresh, so it’s just a bummer.”
Larson may have suffered a setback in the Chili Bowl, but now he has a few weeks to prepare for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season in the No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.