Chico, CA - After a two year absence from the outlaw sprint kart racing calendar, the prestigious Golden State Championships returned to Cycleland Speedway and ParkerStore driver Kyle Larson had top results in three divisions during the two days of racing. All three of Cycleland’s 500cc divisions (Open, Open Intermediate and Sportsman) were combined for the Open Division and Larson was competing to score points in the Open and Open Intermediate Divisions. His third place finish in the Open Division feature on Saturday night also resulted in the Golden Sate Championship in the Open Intermediate Division. In what was scored as a race within a race, Larson was the first across the finish line of the Open Intermediate drivers in the 50 lap event. He also competed in the 250cc Intermediate Division and scored another third place finish after leading a majority of the race.

Action started on Friday night with points being earned in qualifying and heat races and then being combined to advance drivers into lineups for Saturday’s racing. In an unusual twist, for Saturday the top ten point earners in each division were then put on the track for group qualifying utilizing transponders. Qualifying times were then used to set the lineups of the first five rows in the A Main events.

On Friday Larson qualified 14th of the 26 250cc Intermediates assembled and ninth in the 57 Opens. The action packed heat races were fully inverted and Larson drove from seventh in his 250cc Intermediate heat to first in seven laps to score a convincing win, while also earning passing points along the way. Larson then started 17th of 19 karts in the Open heat race and advanced to a third place finish. When the points were tallied Larson held sixth in the 250cc Division and fifth in the Open Division.

After the Saturday two lap qualifying scrambles were held Larson timed in with the second fast time in the 250cc Division and earned the outside pole position next to top qualifier Tyler Reddick. As the 30 lap race got underway, Larson and Reddick swapped the lead in virtually every turn for the first three laps. Reddick then assumed the point until Larson reasserted himself after a lap nine restart. As Larson held a comfortable lead over the next several laps 13th starting Cameron Bartlett was on the move through the pack, finally getting to third on lap 20. As Larson started to encounter lapped traffic Bartlett got past Reddick on lap 26. On lap 28 Bartlett blew by Larson and Reddick did the same a lap later. The exciting finish saw the trio cross the line 2 laps later in that order with point leader Keith Bloom in fourth.

In the Open Division scramble Larson qualifed fifth fast of the 10 drivers, earning the inside third row position in the 50 lap feature race. On the opening lap Larson moved into fourth as Brian Southers led over fast time Mason Moore. Veteran Tyler McCain went by Moore on the third lap and began challenging Southers. On lap 12 McCain took the lead and a lap later Larson drove his ParkerStore/Grandpa George Motors/QRC Factory Kart by sideways Moore in turn two as Alec Kerns also followed by. The lead trio remained the same through lap 43, all the while dealing with intense lapped traffic on the rubberdown race track. On lap 44 Southers bobbled in turn two, and as Larson momentarily slowed to miss Southers, fourth place John Michael Bunch stole second from both. McCain held the lead to the checkered flag, earning the $1,000 paycheck, while Bunch finished second.

Larson, as the first Open Intermediate driver across the line, was declared the champion for that division, while also earning third place points in the Open Division.

At the end of the two days of racing, Larson said, “I really had fun this weekend. I like the format that was used. With the big heat races being inverted, that suits my style. I was able to move forward and get good finishes and improve on my qualifying points. In the 250cc main tonight, it was a case of being the leader late in the race was not the place to be. Rubber was starting to be laid down and I made it work for me to get the lead in one and two but the track was still good on top in three and four. But I guess Bartlett was the first to find the rubber in three and four. I had led for so long running my line I played it safe where I was. Then we came up on a couple of lapped karts and I chose the high line at both ends of the track for a lap or so and the next thing I knew Cameron was by me. I tried to fight back but then Tyler got underneath me and I couldn’t get back to the bottom. Congratulations to Cameron. It’s his biggest win ever and he should be proud of himself. He drove by the three most experienced drivers to get the win. In the Open division race the rubber was really down by that point. It was kind of a freight train type race and hard to pass. Even the lapped karts were fast. With the combined classes in the Opens I feel real good about getting third overall and first in the Open Intermediates. I think I tied Tyler Wolf for the lead in the Open points standing so I have to consider this a real good weekend. I want to thank Robert Carrel from QRC for letting me use his KTM 250 engine this weekend. I really appreciate everything he has done for me through the years. Also, I want to thank ParkerStore for being an awesome sponsor. We have been together for exactly two years now, and they have been the two most productive years of my career. I could not have done it without them.”

Race: August 4 & 5, 2006
Photos Courtesy of Jack Waterman