Opinion: Payback is a Beach

Kyle Larson

Pistone: "The move he used to “win” Monday’s late model main event in the inaugural Battle at the Beach on the tight Daytona Int’l Speedway short track knocked several points off his respect level." (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

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Post-Race Audio: C.E. Falk | Kyle Larson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kyle Larson didn’t do himself any favors on his way to taking the checkered flag in Monday’s UNOH Battle at the Beach.

Everyone knows how talented the young driver is and his career road is already paved with tremendous opportunities. Larson can drive a sprint car, stock car or modified with the best of them and his ticket up the NASCAR ladder is waiting.

But the move he used to “win” Monday’s late model main event in the inaugural Battle at the Beach on the tight Daytona Int’l Speedway short track knocked several points off his respect level.

After a furious duel with C.E. Falk in the closing stages of the 150-lap feature, Larson decided to simply spin his way to victory lane. So after the two initially made contact racing for the spot on the white flag lap, Larson just out and out dumped Falk heading to the finish line.

Bush league, cheap shot, dirty pool. Call it whatever you’d like but it's not short track racing.

Rubbing, bumping, beating, banging and contact definitely is a part of short track competition and one of the main reasons for its popularity. But running over someone or purposely spinning them out for a win definitely is not right.

"I don't get to do this short-track stock car stuff very often," said Larson, who will run both the modified and K&N Pro Series race Tuesday night. “Every video I've ever seen from a short track like this, it seems the second-place guy coming out of the turn always wins. It's the first race I've ever won in that manner, but this was a pretty big race. I wanted to win it.”

The ironic part of Monday’s race is that 99 percent of the tracks that hold weekly racing around the country where most in the field compete would have penalized Larson for his action. He would have been sent to the rear of the field and Ben Rhodes, who sped by the unfortunate Falk crowned the winner.

But somehow on the biggest stage for these weekly warriors NASCAR blows the call. A shame and unacceptable.

The bigger story may be Larson’s reputation, which until now has been all but immaculate. Fellow competitors will now certainly have to think twice if put in a similar position as the one Falk found himself in on Monday night.

The racing world is blessed with a number of very talented young drivers and Larson is definitely near the top of that list. But those skills were not on display Monday night.

I guarantee you that I’d be the worst race car driver in the history of the sport. But I’m pretty sure I could run over someone the way Larson did in Daytona.

Trophies are great. Respect is more important in the long haul. Now Larson needs to earn some of that back.

He’d better get ready to learn another valuable racing lesson. Payback is always waiting.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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