From Kyle McFadden | FloRacing
David Gravel Stars With The High Limit Sprint Car Series At Lernerville
After Tuesday night at Lernerville Speedway, it’s fair to now say that David Gravel has a knack for starring in front of prominent personalities.
On an evening accompanied by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr., the Big Game Motorsports driver turned back the High Limit Sprint Car Series tandem of promotors, Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet, for the $50,000 top prize.
For those who recall, Gravel won the 2019 Knoxville Nationals in front of Jeff Gordon and former Formula 1 star Mark Webber, two mega personalities that backed the Watertown, Conn., driver with their presence and business relation to Axalta Coating Systems.
But on Tuesday, it was Gravel who overturned Larson and Sweet in their element.
“I miss Lernerville since the Outlaws haven’t raced here in a couple years,” Gravel said. “It’s the big reason why we came; obviously $50,000. I just love Lernerville. It’s been in an awesome track for me in my career. Appreciate $50,000-to-win on a Tuesday night. We don’t do that but two times a year. Appreciate that.
“Appreciate everything they’re doing and building the sport up. This is all good for the sport. I know there’s some battles going on. It’s healthy for the sport. I’m excited to see where the sport goes in the next couple of years.”
Larson firmly held onto the lead until nine laps to go when he pushed the Paul Silva-owned No. 57 machine off the turn-two cushion, over the track surface, and lost seven spots to finish eighth. Sweet, meanwhile, started the evening by lowering the track record previously held by Joey Saldana with a lap of 12.300 seconds.
Sweet led a race-high of 18 laps but finished third behind Rico Abreu, who finished second and now trails Larson by 20 points in the standings with two series races to go.
“Packed my right-rear full of mud right after the red … well I packed it full of mud before the red, and thankfully we got the red to clean. But I packed it again worse than the first time,” said Larson breaking down what went wrong on Tuesday. “Then when I caught traffic, I was basically guessing on my entry. I caught two cars that were slow in front of me and just got tight on the cushion, got over it and biked up. Almost flipped. Was able to land it and keep going. Just a bummer. We had a really good car. Just hate we didn’t win.”
Aside from the stellar run that went for naught, and aside from losing more insurance in the title race to Abreu as the series reaches the penultimate round next Tuesday at Bridgeport (N.J.) Motorsports Park, Larson still left Lernerville happy. His deal with Earnhardt — that is, Larson running a CARS Tour race earlier this year so Earnhardt would attend one High Limit Series event — satisfied both the race fan and promoter inside him.
“Yeah, it was great. It was awesome that he was here,” Larson said. “He’s just a great guy. For him to come up with the idea to do this, I’m super thankful for that. And just seeing how deals with all the fans. It’s pretty incredible for somebody like that. I’ve never been around anything like that before in my life. Just seeing the craziness was wild. But he handles it very well. I think we’re all fortunate as race fans here tonight to have him here and help grow our sport.”
As far as Gravel’s night on Tuesday, it’s a potential shot in the arm heading into an opportunity for another big payday in this weekend’s $75,000-to-win National Open at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Gravel’s also 80 points behind Sweet in the WoO title race, not an entirely insurmountable deficit with 11 races remaining, but a steep hill to climb nonetheless.
“It’s going to be tough, but there’s two good racetracks coming up in Williams Grove (this weekend) and Port Royal (next weekend),” Gravel said. “If we run up front, top fives in four of those races, I think we’ll really close in on him. I know (Brad) is pretty good at Williams Grove here lately. Port Royal is not a track he’s very good at. I feel like we could possibly put a little run together and put pressure on him like we did last year. It is what it is. We’re going to run the best we can every night and go from there.”
A Feature 1 (35 Laps):
1. 2-David Gravel; 2. 24-Rico Abreu; 3. 49-Brad Sweet; 4. 83-James McFadden; 5. 11-Cory Eliason; 6. 8-Aaron Reutzel; 7. 7BC-Tyler Courtney; 8. 57-Kyle Larson; 9. 26-Zeb Wise; 10. 13-Justin Peck; 11. 2MD-Cap Henry; 12. 71-Anthony Macri; 13. 21-Brian Brown; 14. 55-Kerry Madsen; 15. 19-Brent Marks; 16. (DNF) 70-Kraig Kinser; 17. (DNF) 88-Austin McCarl; 18. (DNF) 58-Tanner Thorson; 19. (DNF) 99-Skylar Gee; 20. (DNF) 49X-Tim Shaffer; 21. (DNF) 39M-Justin Sanders; 22. (DNF) 42-Sye Lynch; 23. (DNF) 5T-Ryan Timms; 24. (DNF) 9K-Kasey Kahne
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