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NASCAR star Kyle Larson to rev engine with Outlaws at LVMS

Updated February 26, 2019 - 2:48 pm

Its legions of fans often refer to the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series as “The Greatest Show on Dirt.” Or simply “The Outlaws.” Former UNLV quarterback Kenny Mayne was fond of calling it by its acronym of “WoO” on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

To Kyle Larson, making dirt rooster tails with winged sprint cars is more about a man and his horsepower.

“They’re really light vehicles that weigh 1,400 pounds with more than 900 horsepower, where our stock cars are 3,400 pounds with now 500-something horsepower,” said the young NASCAR star, who will drive in WoO races on the LVMS dirt track Wednesday and Thursday kicking off Pennzoil 400 race weekend.

“They’re both fun, it’s just a different style.”

Larson, driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet on the NASCAR circuit, has been assigned to Paul Silva’s No. 57 sprint car at LVMS. Other guest competitors include Kasey Kahne, who won 18 races in the Cup Series; Xfinity Series Atlanta race winner Christopher Bell and popular dirt track specialist Rico Abreu, who raced in the NASCAR Truck Series in 2016.

They’ll join a band of Outlaws that includes 10-time series champ Donny Schatz, winner of four of the past five Las Vegas main events. The Outlaws will share the dirt oval with NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West stock cars on Thursday night, and NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch of Las Vegas and Ricky Stenhouse will sign autographs at 6:30 p.m.

Sprint car natural

Larson said his introduction to auto racing came via sprint cars.

“It’s all I knew growing up. I knew sprint car racing before I knew what NASCAR was,” said the 26-year-old native of Elk Grove, California, who led a race-high 142 of 325 laps in Sunday’s Cup Series race at Atlanta before receiving a speeding ticket on pit road.

“When the Outlaws would come to the West Coast, we’d follow them up and down through California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona. It was just natural with me growing up around it that I started racing dirt track stuff when I was young — I started racing sprint cars and stuff when I was 14.”

Larson became a phenom in the United States Auto Club’s midget, sprint car and Silver Crown divisions. He considered driving in the IndyCar Series before switching to stock car racing in 2012.

“The cars are just way more simple than a stock car would be,” he said of NASCAR apples and Outlaws oranges. “It makes it simpler for people to work on. The cars are cheaper, which I think would make it more cost effective.”

What about those 410 cubic-inch behemoths under the cowling that produce 900 horsepower?

“The engines are not cheap,” Larson said.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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