Grand Larceny: NASCAR Trashes Short Track Racing Image Letting Kyle Larson Win Stand

They arrived at Daytona International Speedway this week from their various weekly racing outposts, wide-eyed surely by the magnitude of the stage they were being welcomed to race on.

Kyle Larson celebrates victory in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event Monday at Daytona International Speedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

There they were, the drivers making up the field of Monday’s 150-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event at the inaugural Battle at the Beach – far from the bullrings they call home – getting the chance to race on national television at one of racing’s most historic venues.

And in the end they all left the .4-mile temporary race track at Daytona as rubes. Drivers and teams suckered in by an elaborate Three Card Monte-esque game by NASCAR.

There’s no other way to look at it because there’s simply no other way to interpret the message sent by NASCAR officials at the conclusion of the event.

A bunch of short track drivers made their way to Daytona to serve as joked on jesters at the Kyle Larson debutante ball.

Larson, coming off a championship in the K&N Pro Series East last year, is being touted mightily as NASCAR’s next young superstar as he prepares to run this season in the Nationwide Series, one step below the top level Sprint Cup Series.

After a spirited battle over the closing laps of the event, C.E. Falk seemingly had victory in hand, but then it all got dirty. Real dirty. Instead of settling for second place, Larson took the low road, literally and figuratively.

In the final corner Larson gave Falk first a grazing blow to the inside, then a slam clearly bent on one purpose: sending the leader spinning.

Through the smoke Larson drove under the checkered flag first, leaving Falk settling for a third place finish.

Surely NASCAR would say no way to the move right? Surely this wasn’t the type of unchecked aggressiveness that NASCAR wants to paint as what short track racing around the nation is at its core?

Surely they would do the right thing and penalize Larson, right, and not let him keep the win?

Wrong. There would be no penalty, just celebratory congratulations waiting in victory lane for Larson. Falk, and the other true short track racers around him, were left looking like set up victims of a NASCAR promotional machine bent on force feeding the racing world their next chosen one.

There’s rubbing, there’s contact, there’s aggressive racing and anybody that’s spent any time around short track events understands that. Then there’s going out of your way to simply send someone with no regard whatsoever for competitive fairness, which was exactly what Kyle Larson did.

It was something that made WWE events seem all too tame in comparison. It essentially sent a message to America that short track racing across the land is simply Enduro style competition where destruction of your competition is not only allowed, but heartily encouraged.

As a Sprint Cup Series spotter, Anthony Hirschman III gets to see plenty of the best and worst of racing week after week, track after track. As the son of Tony Hirschman, one the most legendary Modified drivers ever, he understands well what short track racing is all about.

And he said all that was needed to be said in a post on Facebook following the event.

“I’m not one to typically rant, but after watching the late model race tonight…if that’s our sports next best thing, we can do without him,” Hirschman wrote: “A perfect example of what is wrong with racing these days, that a finish like that can stand, and a TERRIBLE example for every single up and coming driver in America. I guess a full time Nationwide [Series] driver with his future paved needed that win more than the Saturday night racer that this “special” event was created for. I’ve never turned a lap in my life, and I can pull a move like that. Severely disappointed that was allowed to stand after being told in meeting that it wouldn’t. Hoping for some consistency tomorrow…”

When NASCAR announced last year they would showcase weekly short track racers in an event at Daytona International Speedway it seemed like a story that could only be a positive.

Unfortunately, when the smoke cleared, the dust settled and NASCAR had their prince-in-waiting sitting in his throne Monday, it was the image of real short track racers left most injured. Short track racing is hardly a circus sideshow, though that was exactly the picture of it NASCAR painted so vividly Monday.

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  1. I don't think you can credit the entire situation to larson. The lapped car did play a part as well.
    Not the blame for the incident, but the track doesn't have a good place to lap people

  2. I don't think you can credit the entire situation to larson. The lapped car did play a part as well.
    Not the blame for the incident, but the track doesn't have a good place to lap people

  3. OMG! you gotta be kidding! That's racin" get over it! Drop the rag, then you can bitch about the next race!
    This is the greatest sport in America! quit your bitchin".

  4. Sean Ambrose says

    I'm going to re-post what I said earlier elsewhere….
    I honestly think the track they set up there is horrible. It has no character and is just plain boring to watch. Give me a purpose-built track any day! There is nothing wrong with the racing at New Smyrna. If you want the prestige of running at Daytona then get a ride in the Arca series. JMO, nothing negative towards they guys who made the trip. Just seems like nothing but a money grab for NASCAR.

  5. that wasin't racing a 10 year old can pull a move like that

  6. Sean Ambrose says

    Phil, you sir are entitled to your opinion…..even if you sound like a moron making it ;o)

  7. Rich Wisniewski says

    Isn't that the kind of stuff that happens on a weekly basis at Bowman Gray? I think most real race fans think that what happened was bs. But does nascar really care about the die hard race fan? It seems to me all they care about is trying to attract new fans and this sort of stuff probably works. I wonder what the reaction was by the 100 fans in the stands? There's no question that Larson is a good driver but nascar is hell bent on making this kid sliced bread number two. It's just so obvious it's pathetic. I wonder if anybody else did what he did if they would get to keep the win. Should be interesting to see what happens tomorrow but I bet they won't allow that to happen again. I don't understand how some people justify what he did. What other tracks allow something so blatant besides Bowman Gray, or maybe even Wall Stadium.

  8. Excuse me but………Earnhardt, Sr. did the EXACT same thing MANY times….and did nascrap take HIS wins away? I do agree that Larson won't make many friends in the garage of Late Models but…..he doesn't NEED them…he is the Next Chosen One! lol

  9. If Nascar wants the kid to win so bad they should just cancel both races tomorrow and save everyone the expense of possibly wrecking and just give the kid the wins. It couldn't of been any more intentional that he wrecked the poor guy!

  10. Should have disqualified Larson, first attempt to spin Falk in the turn was racing, but the second hit which spun Falk was just wrecking him for the win. Hope Nascar opens their eyes or it's going to be a screwed up season.

  11. Like to see him pull that stunt in a Modified, he won't be NASCAR's golden boy for long!

  12. This isn't NR2K3 Mitch lol. Loke to see him try that with TC or Blewett in a Modified.

  13. This finish was no different then the finish at Martinsville VA race a couple of years ago. Nascar set the precedent then, there were no penalties for that finish either.

  14. Where you at daytona?

  15. I'm sure the Modified drivers were watching…… They will NOT let the chosen one get away with that tonight!

  16. NASCAR put those drivers in a tough situation, that wasn't a real racetrack so how can they be expect to really race on it. Beyond that you can't really blame NASCAR for allowing the win to stand. NASCAR's fix in bad finished is to penalize drivers with points and fines and that doesn't really apply here. NASCAR isn't F1, they won't change the outcome of a race. The blame is all Kyle Larson's. That was something no good local short track driver would pull because he knows he's going to have to race that guy again next week. He's letting all the other drivers know not to give him an inch and to rough him up before he does it to them. Kyle Larson, karma is a bitch!

  17. Shit like that happens in NJ all the time. If your favored you get away with it, if your not favored you wont. Its all about the scumbags up in the tower. Yea, he did what he did, but the worst part is they let him get away with it.

  18. Shit like that happens in NJ all the time. If your favored you get away with it, if your not favored you wont. Its all about the scumbags up in the tower. Yea, he did what he did, but the worst part is they let him get away with it.

  19. hey now !!! i would have put him to the rear no doubt !!!

  20. Good reply. My comment only had to do with the ones that I have experience with by seeing what they have done. I dont have much experience seeing what you have done yet. I have always had in the back of my mind that you are not like that though, and have always stood up to say "give him a chance, he just started" I have faith in you my friend. Bill Brice is a perfect example of what, and who I was talking about. I could name a few others as well.

  21. Tc and Blewett already run people over as it is

  22. Jon Mickley says

    NASCAR has actually taken a win away for this type of incident….Sonoma, 1991 gave the win to Dave Allison instead of Rick Rudd. But things have changed now….can you say Clint Bowyer/Jeff Gordon at Martinsville?

  23. im trying , i have been there and it sucks so i dont like what happend at daytona last night !!!

  24. Christopher Neal says

    Now that they are "Mainstream" they seem to take a much more hands off approach to finishing orders.

  25. No, that is not what happens every week at Bowman Gray. The first contact, yes, the second one, no because when it does happen on occasion, the driver that did it gets his butt kicked after the race to deter it becoming a weekly thing.

  26. Great article Shawn;I agree with your article.How many local short tracker's messed up their 2013 racing budgets by running last night's crashfest? A lot.

  27. Here's the bottom line, NASCAR sucks! That's why they have to have smaller fields, that's why they can't fill the stands, and that's why they let the chosen one do what ever they want. They just don't give a shit!

  28. Logano did it to Sellers at Irwindale and got Dq'd. Maybe it depends on what part of the country you are in. All race long drivers penalized for "agressive" driving and the Money lap comes and the rules go out the window! I LOVE the UARA rules!

  29. How do you really feel? Don't sugar coat it!

  30. There is Nothing Fair or Sportsmanship about that BS win! Try that crap in NASCAR an see what happens. Straight under handed Dirty an Foul win, Not a bump or 2 but Rammed then Wrecked CE Falk… What part of Racing is that when You Purposely Wreck someone out of 1st PL.

  31. There are a lot of people hating on Nascar for this without a reason. The BEST thing about racing is that you have a chance all the way to that flag! The blame lies with the driver, who altered the outcome. He has to be taught a lesson on the track. By the time the NW race gets here, he will have forgotten all about that race, whether he got the win or not. Punt him early in the Modified race and teach hiss @$$ a lesson! He will be punished in the next Late Model race he's in, guaranteed!

  32. So phil, It Will be FAIR when an if it ever happens to YOU, Cheers !! Let's Ram phil All day out of 1st on Purpose!! An if you still feel that is Fair then I want to see that done to Larson Every race from here on out that they can get away with Sucker punches from behind like that, This ain't Demolition Derby !!!!!

  33. It's a 2/5 mile oval that's similar to another temporary oval used in NASCAR, Tours (France). Lapped cars did play a part, but cross-ply tyres, the lack of grip left in them after nearly 100km of action, a track with no grip, no banking (it's literally pancake-flat since it's the apron of the backstretch), you wonder if flat-track rules are different thank banked tracks, especially with a lap speed that's barely 112 kmh with the cars not even going 70 kmh in the turns. The speed in the turns at Wall is considerably faster than at Daytona. It's Bowman Gray flat.

  34. Mathew Rzewnicki says

    It was a shame, and still is, that Kyle did what he did. NASCAR should step up to the plate and defend their decisions. Especially since they said they wouldn't allow that type of racing. As for the ones that say the problem is with the track because it's temporary, there are hundreds of dead flat tracks that run weekly races, so there is obviously a setup that would work. Was it the lack of banking that forced Kyle to wrck the leader? Did lap cars come into play? Lets say they did, was it their fault that Kyle decided to wreck the leader? The one and ONLY person that can be blamed for wrecking the leader is the guy who did it. It's not the track or lapped cars, the cars have steering wheels and brakes, so you can avoid stuff like that.

  35. Lauren Bousquet says

    First off this division is supposed to be a support division in my book….why are they running this type of class at daytona and why is Larson allowed to race in this class, second only idiots will race that far away from home for basically nothing.

  36. Sounds like it.

  37. I think we need to call a wah wah wahmbulance……..

  38. You Suck

  39. The same crap happens at Thompson Speedway in Ct., The A** in the tower let T.C.get away with the same.

  40. That's why I'm out of NASCAR racing.

  41. I guess Nascar trashed Modified and K&N Series to eh? 🙂

  42. I never said it was FAIR or unfair,I said That's racin". must be why they put roll cages inside them.

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