VENTURA, Calif.—Kyle Larson decided to have one last hurrah—racing in the Turkey Night Grand Prix—before the arrival of his third child next month.
Following a couple of glasses of wine and a touch of nostalgia, the three-time winner of the iconic event elected to enter the field.
With an assist from a friend, midget team owner Chad Boat, a clean, black car with the No. 87 awaited Yung Money’s arrival.
“Just got kind of thinking about it and I knew I would only be gone one day,” Larson said. “Katelyn's really pregnant right now, and I don't want to miss anything. So that's why I didn't run like the multiple-day events.
“But I wasn't planning on running this and texted Chad late Thursday night to see if he’d have a car. Then just tried to figure it out the next day, Friday and, yeah, pulled the trigger, booked a flight and flew here (Saturday) morning.
Despite missing Friday’s practice, and spinning during his first qualifying lap, Larson rallied from 22nd to finish second in the 81st running of the USAC National Midget season finale.
Throughout the course of the 98-lapper, it seemed every leader encountered an issue—even eventual winner Justin Grant, who won a hard-fought battle with Tanner Thorson for the lead on Lap 84. Larson came from fifth on the final restart, climbed the berm and knocked polesitter Kevin Thomas Jr. out of second place with three laps remaining.
But Grant had extended his advantage and finished 1.367 seconds ahead of Larson. The 2021 NASCAR Cup champion won the Hard Charger Award and elevated his average Turkey Night finish to 2.2 in 10 starts.
“Just kind of battle of attrition there,” Larson said. “Wasn't very good, just a lot of cars fell in front of me. Had some things work out and then just kind of said, “F-it” there at the end and ran as hard as I could. I was able to run hard and get to second. Who knows, maybe I get a caution and I can have a shot at Justin, but just didn't get it. So, another second place for me, at Turkey night, which is nothing to hang my head about.
“I had read a little stat earlier, I think my worst finish in maybe all 10 of the Turkey nights I ran is 4th. So, an average finish of about second is not bad, but I would have liked to have been one spot better. But thanks to Chad for putting this thing together for me last minute...it still takes a lot of work and effort by everybody on the team to your race. Happy to have some fun, just got to get better.”
Although just weeks into the NASCAR offseason, Larson has been busy establishing a second residence in Arizona. Between baby watch and furnishing the new home, he still hasn't penned his thoughts into the Champion's Journal, a tradition established by Jimmie Johnson in 2011. The outgoing champ chronicles his thoughts and then turns the book over to the newest victor during Champion’s Week. Joey Logano locked down the Cup title with his win at Phoenix Raceway on
“I haven’t even started,” Larson said on Saturday. “It will be easy to write. I have a lot of respect for Joey and he's an extremely great competitor. I just got to figure out when I'm going to do it. I guess I should probably do it before we get to the banquet. But, it will be fine.”