Kyle Larson says Eldora is Darlington on dirt
July 23, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
It reminded him, the 20-year-old said, of racing at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
A couple of historic venues with one major difference -- Darlington’s harsh surface is asphalt while Eldora’s half-mile is dirt.
“I kind of feel like it’s similar to running the top in (turns) 3 and 4 at Darlington,” Larson said after leading Tuesday’s opening practice session for Wednesday’s CarCash Mudsummer Classic presented by CNBC Prime’s “The Profit.”
“You have to be really easy in the corner, (really) careful and get as close as you can to the wall.”
One of five drivers competing this week for Turner Scott Motorsports, Larson set fast time in the first of two lengthy practice sessions (91.626 mph) and also had the best 10-lap average (86.615 mph).
A graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity initiative, Larson is an Earnhardt Ganassi Racing development driver, competing fulltime with Turner Scott in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He has an extensive background competing on dirt, however, making him an early favorite for tomorrow’s Truck event.
The versatile driver won at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway earlier this year in his only previous start this season in a truck.
“The track changed quite a bit (during practice),” Larson said.” “I took a long break -- a 40-minute break -- and went back out right before it ended, and the track was getting good there. The top was really, really slick and slow, the middle (had) more grip; you could almost run down there and keep up.
“If it’s like this for the race (Wednesday), I think it’s going to be pretty exciting. I was actually able to throw a slide job … into (Turn) 1 and complete the pass. I think you can get some passes done if you have to start a few rows back -- you still have a shot to win.”
“I don’t know if they thought, since it’s dirt, you have to be sideways, but they were way too sideways,” Larson said. “…After I talked to Jeb, he went back out there and looked a little bit better. I think that helped.
“It’s pretty difficult because you’ve got to be so smooth on everything. You see a lot of the pavement guys out there that are really aggressive on the throttle, and it kind of gets their truck unbalanced. …
“It’s just a different feeling for all those guys. I’ve run quite a bit here … I feel like (the Trucks) are pretty similar to a Silver Crown car. A lot heavier and even slower, but the way you drive them is similar so I think that’s what helped me out.”
Even Scott Bloomquist, one of the track’s most frequent winners, was surprised by Larson’s ability to get around the track and run an extremely high line.
“I was watching Kyle a little bit, and I’m not ready to run this comfort zone that it appeared he was running out there,” Bloomquist, competing for Kyle Busch Motorsports, said. “He definitely was charging hard. We’ve got a little bit more work to do before I feel quite that comfortable. This place will reach out and bite you pretty easy. I was actually watching and waiting for him to hit and he never did. I was impressed.”