By MIKE MALLETT
Kyle Larson did Kyle Larson things on Thursday night at the Knoxville Raceway.
Larson ended his night with a second-place finish and a starting spot inside the top four in the 60th running of the Knoxville Nationals, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Larson qualified well before missing the transfer in his heat. He then went out and dominated the B-Main to earn the 21st starting spot for the feature.
On lap two of said feature, a major crash occurred in turn threes and four as Paul McMahan and Carson Macedo came together collecting multiple cars. Larson barley made it through the crash.
“It was wild,” stated Larson. “I went into three and heard them yell ‘yellow’ on the radio and saw cars flipping everywhere. I got it in there sideways and got it checked up, and a few more came in and wrecked in front of me. While they were crashing it made a little hole for me and I was able to zig-zag through it. It was nerve-wracking for sure.”
That propelled Larson from 21st up to 10th posiiton, which made all the difference in his run to a podium effort.
“It was a solid race and I got extremely lucky missing that big wreck that took out a lot of good cars in front of me, and really only had to come from 10th there,” commented Larson. “It couldn’t have worked out much better for me, but I was nervous starting 21st there. It was tough for Logan starting back there last night and figured it would be even tougher for me tonight. It all worked out, we got second, and ended up with some good points.”
Larson did make a charge at leader Brian Brown in the final laps. He tried to go the bottom several times in order to make a pass. It just didn’t work out.
“I honestly just kind of stumbled across the bottom,” said Larson. “Midway through the race I was able to get Rico (Abreu) down there and get a run on Brad (Sweet) to slide him. I wasn’t really expecting to do that. I think I got a false sense of being really, really good down there. I probably tried it way too much there late in the race. I could hit it okay and slightly gain on him, but then I’d go in the next lap and drive off the berm or miss it and almost spin out.
Marks Third Place Earns Him Spot in Saturday A-Main
Brent Marks was phenomenal on Thursday. Marks pulled a late pill but was still able to up a solid qualifying effort. He went directly from the heat to the A-Main giving him a prime starting position. He utilized that to finish third.
“I was pretty worried about the late pill draw, but the rain definitely helped with that,” commented Marks. “The track got really nice there for the feature and I felt like that was more like the track we’ll see Saturday for the feature. Just really proud of what we accomplished tonight. We made some big gains.”
For Marks, this is one of the first times in his career he feels like he has a shot on Saturday night. He was asked about coming to Knoxville and what it means to him and his team.
“It means a lot to me now,” stated Marks. “I feel like I’m slowly getting to the point where I can come here and compete for wins, and today showed that. Now that I’m getting to that point, it means even more to me. It’s a really cool event, really honored to be a part of it, and all your peers, competitors, and friends are here this week so it’s awesome to run well and celebrate with them.”