Kyle Larson Wins Thriller at Golden Isles
WAYNESVILLE, Ga. (January 27, 2023) – Kyle Larson won a thriller during Friday’s Super Clean Super Bowl of Racing - presented by ICON Electric Vehicles. Larson passed Ricky Thornton Jr. on lap 48 to win the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at Golden Isles Speedway.
Thornton, who led laps 30-47 finished in second to earn his second straight Big River Steel Podium. Brandon Overton came home in third after leading the first 29 laps. Earl Pearson Jr. was fourth and Hudson O’Neal rounded out the top five.
Overton was in control from the start of the event, but a caution on lap 10 for a slowing G.R. Smith brought out the first of two cautions in the race. On the restart Overton held the point over O’Neal, Thornton and Larson. Larson moved to second on lap 13 as the second caution came a lap later for a slowing Wil Herrington.
The remainder of the race went caution free and proved to be a dog fight among the top three of Overton, Larson, and Thornton. Thornton and Larson went toe-to-toe for second behind Overton as those three drivers were using every inch of the track. Thornton kept his car glued to the bottom clearing Larson for second on lap 28.
Then two laps later Thornton made the pass on Overton to take the top spot. When Thornton got by, Overton and Larson then had to battle to stay in the hunt for the win. Larson moved back into second on lap 41 relegating Overton to third. Meanwhile, out front Thornton kept his line as Larson and Overton stayed close. Overton got back by Larson for second on lap 45.
Larson never gave up and charged to the outside of the track going by Overton and eventually Thornton on lap 48. Larson then opened up enough of a gap to cross the finish line ahead of Thornton and Overton for his first win of 2023.
Larson, in his on-track post celebration ended up nose first into the turn three wall, limped his car to Victory Lane. “I feel bad that I tore up a perfectly good race car. I think this takes the cake as far as an embarrassing moment. I don’t know what to say. I want to say I am sorry to Kevin Rumley. What a race. I was so excited after the race, because that was an awesome race. There were so many moments out there. I almost got by Overton, and I got too cute. I tried to throw a slider into one and two and I should have known I wasn’t going to clear him and that allowed Ricky to get by me and I thought that was the end of the race.”
Larson added he thought he had given away the race. “I thought I had taken the best car out there and was going to run third with it. Thankfully we caught traffic and Ricky [Thornton Jr.] was content being the leader running the bottom. It was definitely clean down there and there was a lot of grip. I got by Brandon [Overton] I think once and then got on the cushion and fell back to third. I was mad at myself again. I knew I just had to clear him and was able to run bottom in three and four and then I had to just rip the top in the last few laps and get by Ricky. What a phenomenal race. Gosh that was so fun.”
Thornton, who placed third in the season-opener on Thursday night finished one spot better. “I don’t think I could have done anything different in those last few laps. I knew if I would move up, I might have ended up fifth. I didn’t want to move Ross [Robinson] off the bottom, because you don’t really need that in these deals. I will take a second. The crew is all happy. It was another solid night for the team.”
Overton, who ended up third was still smiling afterwards despite having his Golden Isles win streak come to an end. “That was a heck of race. It was cleaned up around the bottom. I kept seeing Kyle stick his nose up there and then I see him get kind of stuck and then I said let’s give it a whirl up there and see what happens. It is what it is. You win some and you lose some. We will take it. It was fun so we will go onto to tomorrow and try and put on another show.”
The winner’s Rumley Enterprises, Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Cornett Racing Engine and sponsor by FloRacing, D&E Marine, Hot Rod Septic, Senior Life Insurance Company, Mega Plumbing of the Carolinas, HendrickCars.com, Valvoline, and VP Fuels.
Completing the top ten were Dennis Erb Jr., Daulton Wilson, Devin Moran, Kyle Strickler, and Jonathan Davenport.
Story - Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
Photo - Rick Lawson