Column: Where Dirt Racing & NASCAR Intersect, Kyle Larson Votes For Status Quo

Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – LOUDON, NH – NASCAR’s very own dirt devil would prefer to keep the one dirt-track race currently on the schedule as a unique special occasion.

Larson is well aware that Eldora Speedway owner Tony Stewart has been lobbying to bring a NASCAR Xfinity Series race—perhaps even a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event—to the half-mile dirt facility, which on Wednesday
hosted the Dirt Derby for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Larson, however, believes the Cup series belongs on asphalt.

“Tony is probably going to get mad, but I would like to see it just stay as it is,” said Larson, who served as a guest analyst on FS1 for Wednesday’s races. “If anything, Xfinity, maybe, but I wouldn’t like to see Cup on dirt.

“I don’t know, to me, Cup belongs on pavement and real road course tracks, but, yeah, I don’t know. If we went to Eldora, yeah, I mean I would be excited because I would be really fast, and I feel like I would definitely have the best shot to win. But at the same time, I don’t know, I think we are fine not going there.”

Larson, who races midgets and sprint cars on dirt every chance he gets, is foremost among Chevrolet drivers in the Cup series. He’s currently eighth in the standings but has yet to win a race this season.

Larson has had uneven results at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but he expects to perform well in Sunday’s Foxwoods 301 at the Magic Mile (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).

“I’ve had some good runs here, for sure—top fives and stuff and won a K&N race, but we are either really good or really bad,” said Larson who was second fastest behind Kyle Busch in Friday’s opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. “I think we’ll be OK this weekend.”

Ryan Preece at Loudon: You can go home again

What Ryan Preece accomplished last year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway helped propel him to unqualified success in a limited run in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series.

Preece didn’t win last year’s race, but his second-place finish opened eyes throughout the sport. And on his very next run, the modified ace won from the pole at Iowa to score his first series victory in his second trip in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

The victory was the payoff from an enormous gamble. Backed by a group of investors, Preece opted for a few races in top-of-the-line JGR equipment versus a full Xfinity schedule in lesser-quality machinery. In four 2017 races with Gibbs, Preece finished second, first, fourth and fifth.

Back in April, Preece scored his second victory, this time in a Dash 4 Cash race at Bristol. In eight Xfinity starts in the past two seasons, he has posted top 10s in all but one. The exception came in his last outing, in July at Daytona, where an overheating issue knocked him out of the race after 51 of 105 laps.

Now Preece returns to New Hampshire for Saturday’s Lakes Region 200 (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Originally, the race wasn’t on Preece’s schedule with JGR.

“A lot of the people that supported me last year to do those two races (New Hampshire and Iowa), they wanted to get involved and do it again,” Preece said on Friday at NHMS. “And so we put it together so we can come back and race here in New Hampshire in front of all their friends and family and my friends and family.

“It was a really big deal last year, so we ended up putting it together, and hopefully we can do one spot better.”

Though it hasn’t happened yet, Preece hopes continued success will lead to sponsorship money and a full-time stint in NASCAR racing.

“Of course I do (want a full-time ride), but I think what needs to be said is sponsors need to come to the team and say we need Ryan Preece or something like that,” Preece said. “So I’m just going to keep doing my job, and that’s trying to win races, and hopefully the sponsors will come.”

New Hampshire Motor Speedway was Joey Logano’s field of dreams

Joey Logano has vivid memories of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he came as a child with all his dreams intact.

And unlike many children who fantasize about become elite athletes, Logano hasn’t deviated from the path he envisioned as a pre-teen.

“For me, when you’re seven or eight years old, and I came to watch my first Cup race here… when you’re that old, yeah, there’s nothing telling you you can’t,” Logano said on Friday at the Magic Mile. ‘Yeah, I’m going to make it Cup racing. I’m going to win championships. Watch this. I’m going to be awesome.’

“All kids have a dream like that, and it’s really cool, and kids should have dreams like that and be able to try to make them happen. Sometimes you may have to change your dream as you go, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to be able to continue that long road to try to get to a championship. I still think it’s cool, though, to be out there.

“I remember coming here my first time and watching the time it was the Busch North Series and the modifieds and the Cup race, and I met Jeff Gordon. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world, and then you go out there and race against him 10 years later or so.”