David Gravel pulls away from Kyle Larson to win Silver Cup at Lernerville
Sprint cars don’t have rear-view mirrors, so David Gravel couldn’t see how far he was pulling away from the field. Had he been able to look behind his No. 41 machine, all he would have seen was the dust coming off his rear tires.
Gravel rolled through lapped traffic with ease and drove away for a 4-second victory over NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson en route to a $25,000 payday Tuesday night at the 27th Don Martin Memorial Sliver Cup at Lernerville Speedway.
Gravel, a Connecticut native, earned his second Silver Cup win — the first coming in 2016 — and his fifth victory of the season on the World of Outlaws Tour.
He also thwarted Larson’s bid for a second consecutive Silver Cup victory.
“The car felt good,” Gravel said. “I felt like the track had a decent amount of grip in the middle, but, obviously, we had a good car that could move around in traffic. That’s how you win these races. Everything went smooth. I didn’t know if anyone was close or not, but I’m just happy to get the job done.”
Australian James McFadden led the first 15 laps and ended up third. Current World of Outlaws points leader Brad Sweet was fourth, and 10-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz was fifth. Aliqupippa native Tim Shaffer placed sixth.
McFadden started second and got the jump on pole sitter Shane Stewart off the start. Once they hit lapped traffic, Gravel was slid in front of McFadden and took off from there, lapping up to 12th place.
“He was kind of sliding across the track, and I was kind of entering high and coming down the track, which was easier on my tires,” Gravel said. “I know he got free and just kept trying to find a lane to get better, and I ended up getting by him.”
Larson, who started sixth, passed McFadden for second on Lap 19 and started to close on Gravel a few laps later. But Gravel’s ability to move around and dice his way through lapped cars proved to be the difference.
“I didn’t feel like anybody held me up,” Larson said. “Yes, I went slower in traffic, but a lot of times when you lose time on the leader it’s because lappers are in your way, where tonight I didn’t feel like the lappers did anything wrong. I just couldn’t get through traffic as good as Gravel.”
Larson drives the No. 42 car for Fox Chapel resident Chip Ganassi in NASCAR, and Ganassi was in attendance to see Larson race.
“It was nice to have (Ganassi) out here and for him to watch us run sprints,” Larson said. “I wish we could’ve won, because it probably would’ve been his first Victory Lane photo at a dirt track. We just ended up one spot short.”
Dan Shetler (17th), AJ Flick (19th), Sye Lynch (22nd), Brandon Matus (24th) and Carl Bowser (25th) were local drivers who made the A-Main. Flick, a three-time Lernerville track champion and current points leader, spun on Lap 1 to bring out the caution but recovered to gain six spots and finish inside the top 20.
Sweet was the fastest qualifier in the 41-car field with at time of 13.838 seconds. Sweet, Stewart, Larson and Schatz won heat races. Sheldon Haudenschild won the last-chance qualifier, and Jacon Allen won the C-Main.
Sweet holds a 22-point lead in the Outlaws point standings over Schatz, and Gravel is 122 points back in third place heading into the Summer Nationals on Friday and Saturday at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg.