Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Kyle Larson made patient work of surprise polesitter Chase Randall and easily won the Buckeye Brawl with his own High Limit Racing Series at Wayne County Speedway in Ohio Tuesday night (May 16).
Larson proved as smooth on the track’s treacherous cushion as any driver in the field, allowing him both to maintain a lead under green-flag conditions as well as to weather a flurry of late-race cautions that resulted in multiple red-flag incidents that collected Hunter Schuerenberg, Tyler Courtney and Randall.
Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: It came at the race’s midpoint, but Hudson O’Neal’s move to maintain the lead in a three-wide battle with Bobby Pierce and Brandon Overton secured him his second consecutive Flo Racing Night in America win at Marshalltown Speedway in Iowa.
What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning
Tuesday marked the first time that Flo Racing’s two premier dirt racing properties, the Flo Racing Night in America late model tour and the High Limit Racing Series, went off on the same night. Advantage, late models. The Marshalltown racing surface was in better shape, the program ran faster and the final battle for the lead was more dramatic. Story of 2023 remains the fact that super late models are the premier form of dirt racing going.
Now, having said that, as critical as I’ve been of the High Limit tour through its first two events of 2023, Tuesday’s stream was by far the best event the series has put on this season. First and foremost, replacing Vince Welch with Knoxville Raceway’s Tony Bokhoven in the booth provided an immediate injection of life and knowledge that improved coverage dramatically.
Further, going down to one class with no support divisions expedited the program in a major way, with the feature going off shortly after 9:15 p.m. local time. The rash of red flags turned the 35-lap feature into a near-marathon, but here’s hoping the High Limit tour draws enough cars to allow more tracks to host their events without a support class. The time it takes to stage and restart sprint cars demands a tighter ticket.
Lastly, promoter Brad Sweet’s move to spice up the “dice roll” that the tour uses to give front-row starters a chance to earn extra money was a welcome change. For those unaware, through three races in 2023 all front-row starters in High Limit races have turned down the dice roll that would have them start further back in the field for a shot at extra winnings if they can make it back up front. Now, Sweet added a wrinkle to it, taking that extra cash and making it available to a driver further back in the field if the front-row starters decline it.
I still think the dice roll is an unnecessary gimmick for a tour that will inherently run long because of its featuring sprint cars as its headline division. But this latest wrinkle is a definite improvement that made the dice roll relevant for the first time all year.
On the note of both tours, it was a welcome relief to see Flo Racing’s Roku app make it through the entirety of Tuesday with no crashes. The streaming service had an abysmal showing with the High Limit season opener at Lakeside last month, so for the app to hold up as well as it did on a night where viewership had to be high was a welcome development. Hopefully that story would have held true even if North Wilkesboro hadn’t rained out.
Outside of the big-dollar race, sprint car racing had another headline that Justin Fiedler’s excellent Dirtrackr Daily brought up Tuesday morning, that Toyota’s sprint car engine program would have units ready for public sale by the end of the 2023 racing season.
Toyota’s efforts with the Roth Motorsports operation have been successful, but not overwhelming, a contrast to their NASCAR operations that saw them immediately dominant within months of buying Joe Gibbs Racing’s engine shop in 2008. It’ll be a definite sprint car silly season story to see what operations opt to give Toyota a shot.
Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day
Knoxville’s booth talent wasn’t the only thing shining at Wayne County Tuesday. Knoxville regular Brian Brown was the hard charger of the Buckeye Brawl, going from 25th to fourth over the course of 35 laps.
Of note, Brown’s performance earned him an extra $2,100, $100 for every car passed.
Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night
Polesitter Randall has been no stranger to heartache and hard knocks racing on the High Limit tour this season, but his hardship in Tuesday’s feature was the worst yet. After fading from the front to the back of the top 10, Randall took a tumble in turn 2 that literally saw his No. 9 car leave the ballpark at Wayne County.
Randall was uninjured.
Number of dirt tracks to run an oval-track program in the U.S. Tuesday night.
The nation’s largest car count Tuesday night, the weekly racing program at Beaver Dam Raceway in Wisconsin.
The nation’s largest purse Tuesday night, paid to the High Limit winner at Wayne County (Larson).
Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Thursday morning (May 18) with coverage of both the Flo Racing Night in America tour from Davenport Speedway in Iowa and the Short Track Super Series from Delaware. Coverage of both events can be found on Flo Racing.
About the author
Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.
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