NASCAR News: “I Hate That”- Kyle Larson Shockingly Admits Dejection on Career-First Vado Sweep

Published 01/15/2024, 7:51 AM EST

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After turning heads with his lackluster performance at this year’s Chili Bowl Nationals, Kyle Larson faced a new challenge the following day at the 18th Rio Grande Waste Systems Wild West Shootout at Vado Speedway. As the final flag waved on the six-race mini-series, Larson clinched the grand $26,000 finale money, but not in the way anyone expected. Bobby Pierce, who was leading from laps 14 to 43, took a sudden downturn just six laps shy of the finish line due to a flat right-rear tire. Despite this setback, Pierce managed to claw his way back to a seventh-place finish, securing the mini-series title.

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And that’s why victory didn’t taste as sweet for Larson. In his post-race interview, he shared a tinge of disappointment. Larson expressed his wish for a real showdown with Bobby Pierce, acknowledging Pierce’s impressive performance on the track and hinting that he would have preferred to win the race head-to-head, rather than by default.

Kyle Larson reflects on winning with mixed emotions

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Kyle Larson clinched the race, but it wasn’t under the circumstances he had hoped for. Everyone seems to be puzzled about whether he would have been able to take the checkered flag if Bobby Pierce, gunning for his fifth straight win and a hefty $100,000 Penske Paydirt Jackpot bonus, hadn’t suffered the mishap. Larson, who initially started fourth, really kicked into gear midway through the A-main, especially after the first caution on lap 22 due to Collen Winebarger’s tire issue. He quickly moved up to third and then second.

Larson had his eyes set on overtaking Pierce, who had snagged the lead on lap 14. He nearly caught up with Pierce on lap 41, but fate intervened two laps later when Pierce’s tire went flat right in front of Larson, leading to a minor collision between the two. The incident left Larson wondering if he inadvertently caused Pierce’s downfall.

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Taking the lead after this, Larson crossed the finish line first. Yet, his victory was bittersweet. In his post-race interview, Larson expressed a mix of victory and regret. He said, “I did get up underneath him a little bit, and I just assumed it was it was my nose that cut his tire. So, I wasn’t too excited inheriting the lead like that. But that definitely makes me feel better. I hate that for Bobby. Either way, whether I gave him the flat or not, I wanted to race it out with him. He obviously had a lot of money on the line tonight too, and you know if I couldn’t win, it would have been cool to see him take home that bonus money.”

Given Bobby Pierce’s stellar performance in the previous rounds, even the fans were left wishing for a last-lap showdown between the two titans of the track.

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Bobby Pierce’s dominant run in the first five rounds of the Wild West Shootout

In the series kickoff, Bobby Pierce, starting from pole position, gave it his all but was narrowly beaten by Cade Dillard. Dillard led all 40 laps and pocketed the $11,000 winner’s prize, marking his second Wild West Shootout win. Meanwhile, Kyle Larson, starting 14th, managed to work his way up to fifth.

In the second round, Pierce was back with a vengeance. He bagged the $11,000 reward, but it wasn’t a walk in the park. Turning the tables on Mike Marlar, who had been leading flawlessly, Pierce executed a daring move with just three laps remaining, cruising to victory by a 2.167-second margin. This marked his ninth Wild West Shootout win, tying him with Jonathan Davenport. Larson, not far behind, finished fourth.

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Round three saw Pierce in top form, leading 29 out of 30 laps and holding off local favorite Garrett Alberson. His back-to-back wins earned him another $11,000. However, Larson faced troubles, retiring on lap 10 due to a right-rear shock failure, while seventeen cars managed to stay on the lead lap.

In the fourth round, Pierce was unstoppable, winning for the third time in four races. He edged out Alberson by just under half a second for another $11,000. Now in the running for a hefty $100,000 Penske Racing Shocks Paydirt Jackpot bonus, Pierce was on fire. Larson, starting way back in 22nd, fought his way up to fifth.

NASCAR Update: Kyle Larson Claims Career First Wild West Shootout Win At Vado Speedway

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Finally, in the fifth round, Pierce continued his winning streak, dominating all but one of the 40 laps. He finished a comfortable 1.369 seconds ahead of fellow Illinois racer Brandon Sheppard. The victory was Pierce’s 11th in the series, securing him a minimum $25,000 bonus from Penske Racing Shocks. Meanwhile, Larson, starting 16th, powered through to fourth.

With such a dominant run, it’s unfortunate for Bobby Pierce to be let down like that in the final race. As for Larson, it’s another feather on his cap!

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

876Articles

One take at a time

Controversies, gossip, and breakneck speeds? Count me in! While F1 has its charm, NASCAR helps me relive those "Roadrash" gaming days. My favorite among the drivers has to be Tyler Reddick. The 23XI Racing pilot is not only likable but also a complete beast when he is on track, more specifically, road courses.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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