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MONTH OF MAY MASTERPIECE: David Gravel Tops Jacksonville Barnburner for Fourth Win of Season

David Gravel celebrates Jacksonville victory with a wing dance
A wild win marks the Series leading fourth of 2024 for David Gravel and Big Game Motorsports (Trent Gower Photo)

The anticipation filled the entire town of Jacksonville, IL as the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars returned for the first time in three years on Wednesday night. Tickets sold out Tuesday night. Fans filled the entire grandstands before Hot Laps even began. Many more headed for the pit area. Could the Hy-Vee Perks 40 live up to the hype? Absolutely it could.

The midweek Feature offered up 35 laps of non-stop action all over the Illinois bullring. Among the battles including a thrilling duel for the lead between two of the best in Sprint Car Racing. David Gravel and Kyle Larson threw everything they had at each other. Haymaker after haymaker. In the end, Gravel used a late slide job to secure a thrilling win in front of the largest crowd in the track’s history.

Once they’d caught their breath, the massive crowd roared as Gravel climbed atop the Big Game Motorsports machine in Victory Lane. The record number of fans came for a show. And that’s exactly what they got.

“You like that s***?” Gravel asked a rowdy crowd in Victory Lane. “Man, what a great race car. Cody Jacobs, Zach (Patterson), and Stephen (Hamm-Reilly), they deserved that win. I was able to run lanes other people weren’t and had a great car. Honestly, I was fairly conservative, and then being too conservative got Kyle back by me, and I knew once I got to clear him, I had to move up because he’d be pounding the top. I had the wing pretty far back and was pushing really bad on entry going into (Turn) 1 and wasn’t making a good corner, but I knew I had to screw him up there at the end.”

Gravel is up to a Series best four victories in 2024 with The Greatest Show on Dirt. His 92nd win broke a tie with Brad Sweet to give him sole possession of ninth on the all-time win list. The victory was Gravel’s first at Jacksonville, making it the 47th track he’s won at with the World of Outlaws. Tod Quiring’s Big Game Motorsports sits at 98 triumphs, two away from becoming the sixth team with 100.

Well before his battle with Larson began, Gravel had to climb through the front of the field. Up front, Larson took off to lead the opening circuit while Gravel took the green flag in fourth and actually slipped back to fifth when Carson Macedo rolled by on the top.

Gravel remained committed to the bottom, keeping the Huset’s Speedway #2 glued to the lowline. The commitment paid off as he began to reel Macedo back in and slipped back around him on Lap 11 for fourth.

A couple circuits later Gravel welcomed himself to a war for the runner-up spot. Giovanni Scelzi and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid raced side by side and Gravel joined the fun. Kofoid attempted to shut the door when he saw Gravel approaching. The tactic briefly worked, but Gravel muscled his way into second on Lap 19.

When Gravel grabbed the runner-up spot, Larson owned a one-second advantage in the Silva Motorsports #57. The gap was slashed in half only a lap later and then down under three tenths of a second on Lap 21 as Gravel continued on the low side while Larson opted for the top.

David Gravel races underneath Kyle Larson at Jacksonville
David Gravel and Kyle Larson put on a show for the victory at Jacksonville Speedway with Gravel coming out on top (Trent Gower Photo)

On Lap 24 Gravel found the momentum he needed and rolled under Larson to grab the lead. The pass lit a fire under Larson who found another gear. “Yung Money” began to hammer the treacherous cushion all around the ¼ mile. Then on Lap 26, Larson ripped back by Gravel on the top in Turns 1 and 2.

Despite Larson using the cushion to get by, Gravel continued his path on the bottom. As the final laps clicked away, Larson looked as if he may pull away from Gravel. But hope flashed for Gravel as Larson looked to split a pair of lapped cars but couldn’t squeeze through. On Lap 32 Gravel gathered enough momentum down the back straightaway to move under Larson and then clear him with a slider in Turns 3 and 4. Gravel then stuck with a defensive line around the top the final few laps to grab the checkered flag.

“What a great race,” Gravel said. “Hats off to the track crew… I think really the Outlaws and track guys made the right call for track prep with 56 cars here. It’s really hard to prep a surface with that many cars here. It got really wide. You got to use every inch of this racetrack, and it was a lot of fun tonight.”

Larson kicked off the month of May with a runner-up in his World of Outlaws season debut. The Elk Grove, CA native plans to partake in his first Indianapolis 500 later this month, and he started a busy upcoming stretch with his 63rd career World of Outlaws podium. Despite leading laps and coming up a spot short, Larson enjoyed the wild race.

“Traffic was thick, for sure,” Larson said. “Being the leader, I knew he was there obviously because he passed me and I got him back. And then Kraig (Kinser) was doing his thing running the middle. I’ve got to watch it back. I don’t know if I got too impatient or what. I couldn’t follow because the pace was starting to slow down as I was getting to his back bumper. I knew Gravel was right there, and he seemed like he could move around a lot. I shot the gap and couldn’t get down the backstretch good and knew he’d be coming. I knew we were getting close to the end there because we had run a lot of laps. It was a great race. Super, super fun.”

Completing the top three was the man who can’t stay off the podium as of late – Buddy Kofoid. The pole-sitter remained a consistent force throughout the Feature but couldn’t quite challenge for the victory. He and Roth Motorsports still managed to collect their fifth consecutive podium. Kofoid continues to bang on the door of a win.

“That was a badass race,” Kofoid said. “I hope you guys all enjoyed that. That was about as tight and full send as you can get at a track like this. I enjoy that stuff. That’s kind of what I come from. And then with the Midget stuff, you could always run like that and make speed. It was fun. I wish we could get a win. We’re so close. Our car is so good.”

Carson Macedo and Corey Day completed the top five.

A 23rd to 11th run gave Donny Schatz his second straight KSE Racing Hard Charger.

Brady Bacon topped Seafoam Qualifying to claim his second career Simpson Quick Time.

NOS Energy Drink Heats One, Three, and Four went to Carson Macedo (119th Heat Race win of career), Giovanni Scelzi (45th of career), and Kyle Larson (40th of career). David Gravel claimed Milton Hershey School Heat Two (250th of career).

Buddy Kofoid topped the Toyota Racing Dash.

Brenham Crouch won the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.

The Smith Titanium Brake Systems Break of the Race went to Austin McCarl.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars head to Rossburg, OH’s Eldora Speedway for #LetsRaceTwo on May 3-4 and will be joined by the USAC National Sprint Cars. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.

FEATURE RESULTS:

NOS Energy Drink Feature (35 Laps): 1. 2-David Gravel[3]; 2. 57-Kyle Larson[2]; 3. 83-Michael Kofoid[1]; 4. 41-Carson Macedo[6]; 5. 14-Corey Day[7]; 6. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[4]; 7. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[5]; 8. 83SR-James McFadden[11]; 9. 16T-Cole Macedo[8]; 10. 49-Brad Sweet[13]; 11. 15-Donny Schatz[23]; 12. 17B-Bill Balog[14]; 13. 9P-Parker Price Miller[9]; 14. 24D-Danny Sams III[10]; 15. 1S-Logan Schuchart[12]; 16. 99-Skylar Gee[16]; 17. 31-Zach Daum[22]; 18. 70-Kraig Kinser[18]; 19. 9X-Paul Nienhiser[24]; 20. 23-Garet Williamson[20]; 21. 2KS-Chase Randall[17]; 22. 1-Brenham Crouch[21]; 23. 51B-Joe B Miller[19]; 24. 87-Aaron Reutzel[15]

For full results, CLICK HERE.

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