Larson Snags First-Ever Turkey Night Pole

Jacob Seelman USAC 0 Comments

Kyle Larson topped qualifying for Thursday’s 77th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway. (Steve Schnars photo)

VENTURA, Calif. — There’s not a whole lot in his dirt racing career that Kyle Larson hasn’t done, but Thursday evening at Ventura Raceway, he managed to cross one item off the list that had eluded him for several years.

Larson led the way during two-lap qualifying for the 77th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix, earning the pole for the Thanksgiving classic for the first time in the No. 1 Walker Filtration Systems/Abreu Vineyards Bullet-Toyota for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports.

The five-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner turned a lap of 11.888 seconds (60.565 mph) around the high-banked fifth-mile oval.

Thursday’s achievement was exceedingly special for Larson considering the fact that the award for the Turkey Night polesitter is the Jason Leffler Memorial Trophy, presented in honor of Bryan Clauson and this year displaying the No. 39 that Clauson made famous during his days in dirt midget competition.

Both Leffler and Clauson had a large influence on Larson’s career, and the Elk Grove, Calif. native was emotional during the award presentation during opening ceremonies.

“People don’t understand how important this trophy is to me,” said Larson. “I’ve come so close to getting quick time at Turkey Night the last three years … and for me to finally get it and get this awesome trophy means the world to me. I’m going to have to keep it up somewhere where no one can get to it for a few years. It’s just such a cool trophy, and especially with it being named after Bryan this time around … it’s super special.”

Larson is seeking his third Turkey Night win and second in a row, citing track position as an important factor in the 98-lap event.

“There’s no doubt that track position is important here. I started outside front row last year and was able to stalk Brady (Bacon) for a little bit before I made my move. I found some lines that worked and got around him before we got into traffic,” Larson explained. “Starting up front is important in all sorts of racing, but here, it’s a tight track and you’re in traffic quick … so if you can make quick work of people early and get to the lead it’s a big deal.”

Jake Swanson will join Larson on the front row for the A-Main, followed by 2014 Turkey night champion Christopher Bell and Shane Golobic in row two.

Golobic’s Clauson-Marshall Racing teammate Justin Grant completed the top five.

Brayton Lynch, Logan Seavey, Spencer Bayston, Tanner Thorson, Michael Faccinto, Brady Bacon and Tucker Klaasmeyer made up the rest of the dozen drivers who locked themselves into the main event on their qualifying speeds.

Notables outside the top 12 included Kevin Thomas Jr. (13th), Chad Boat (14th), Brad Sweet (15th), Michael Pickens (16th), rookie Zeb Wise (19th), Chase Briscoe (20th), Ryan Robinson (32nd), Dave Darland (34th) and Tyler Courtney (37th).


RESULTS: USAC National Midget Series; 77th Turkey Night Grand Prix; Ventura Raceway, Nov. 23, 2017

ProSource/Woodland Auto Display Qualifying (top 12 lock into A-Main: 1. #1 – Kyle Larson, 11.888; 2. #73 – Jake Swanson, 11.909; 3. #21 – Christopher Bell, 11.933; 4. #17W – Shane Golobic, 12.060; 5. #39BC – Justin Grant, 12.081; 6. #1K – Brayton Lynch, 12.119; 7. #4A – Logan Seavey, 12.200; 8. #97 – Spencer Bayston, 12.210; 9. #67 – Tanner Thorson, 12.238; 10. #9D – Michael Faccinto, 12.249; 11. #76M – Brady Bacon, 12.266; 12. #27 – Tucker Klaasmeyer, 12.269; 13. #25 – Kevin Thomas Jr., 12.274; 14. #84 – Chad Boat, 12.276; 15. #63X – Brad Sweet, 12.282; 16. #25X – Michael Pickens, 12.290; 17. #67K – Holly Shelton, 12.326; 18. #25C – Courtney Crone, 12.342; 19. #39 – Zeb Wise, 12.391; 20. #5 – Chase Briscoe, 12.393; 21. #73X – Carson Macedo, 12.460; 22. #68 – Ronnie Gardner, 12.471; 23. #63 – Frankie Guerrini, 12.490; 24. #11E – Cory Elliott, 12.505; 25. #7R – Clayton Ruston, 12.512; 26. #57 – Maria Cofer, 12.520; 27. #47 – Tyler Nelson, 12.535; 28. #17G – Dustin Golobic, 12.593; 29. #98 – Danny Stratton, 12.605; 30. #22Q – David Prickett, 12.608; 31. #17 – Cody Swanson, 12.680; 32. #71 – Ryan Robinson, 12.696; 33. #4D – Robert Dalby, 12.702; 34. #73T – Dave Darland, 12.729; 35. #71K – Tanner Carrick, 12.745; 36. #99 – Colton Heath, 12.802; 37. #7BC – Tyler Courtney, 12.820; 38. #8 – Randi Pankratz, 12.847; 39. #56 – Daniel Robinson, 12.872; 40. #1P – Terry Nichols, 12.878; 41. #15G – Carson Garrett, 12.882; 42. #2JD – Tyler Edwards, 12.894; 43. #9E – Mack DeMan, 12.924; 44. #87JR – Jake Vermeer, 12.938; 45. #15 – Ron Hazelton, 12.972; 46. #31 – Kyle Beilman, 13.020; 47. #55 – Kyle Smith, 13.113; 48. #71X – Bryan Drollinger, 13.385; 49. #75 – Matt Mitchell, NT; 50. #2 – Robby Josett, NT.


About the Writer

jacobseelmanJacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network, as well as a periodic contributor to SPEED SPORT Magazine.

Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

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