NorCal Racing

Chico track vet Tim Kaeding wins on Kyle Larson’s return to Silver Dollar Speedway – Chico Enterprise-Record

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CHICO — The inaugural Thursday Night Thunder King of the West NARC 410 Sprint Car and IMCA Sport Mods race at Silver Dollar Speedway was a return home for two drivers who made their names racing in Chico and Butte County.

It was NASCAR driver Kyle Larson’s first return to Chico since 2017, but the Elk Grove native did not factor much into the final decision after a full 360-degree spin on lap 17 sent him to the back of the field. Tim Kaeding took first in the 410-main event followed by Mitchell Faccinto and Andy Forsberg. For Kaeding, it was his 58th career victory, fourth all time at the speedway. Larson finished ninth in his return.

Prior to the 410-main event, Todd Cooper won the sport mods main event after losing the right half of his hood on lap nine of the 20-lap race. The win for Cooper was his first of the year in Chico.

Larson kicked off the first day of Speed Week with a win in Placerville Wednesday in front of his friends and family. Larson will continue in sprint cars for two more days, traveling to Stockton Friday and Saturday for the final two days of The Fastest Four Days in Motorsports.

Following Wednesday’s win, Larson returned to an area he had great success at. Larson started at Cycleland Speedway in Oroville before transitioning to sprint cars in Chico, winning the Gold Cup in 2011 and 2012.

Kyle Larson cleans out his helmet before racing at the Silver Dollar Speedway on Thursday in Chico. (Matt Bates — Enterprise-Record)

“Obviously my first one was nice in 2011 and then the following year, and we lapped up to seventh place that night, so it was cool to dominate even against the outlaws,” Larson said.

Now Larson has shifted his attention primarily to NASCAR, where he currently sits in 11th place in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series with five top-5 finishes on the year. Thursday’s race was Larson’s first appearance in Chico since 2017, however, Larson won the Outlaw Cart Showcase at Cycleland in 2018.

“I’ve had a lot of success here and raced here a lot growing up so I enjoy it, won a couple gold cups here,” Larson said. “I won my first outlaw race here so always look forward to coming to a place you’ve ran well.”

Another driver making his 2019 debut in Chico was Chico native Jonathan Allard. Allard, who is the crew chief of 19-year-old 360-sprint driver Kyle Offill, returned to a sprint car on his 43rd birthday.

Jonathan Allard speeds around turn three at the Silver Dollar Speedway on Thursday in Chico. (Matt Bates — Enterprise-Record)

“Its always special when I race Chico because I’m comfortable here and because it’s my home,” Allard said. “I actually have been waiting for this race because it’s the first race back all year for me.”

Despite still being two of the track favorites in Thursday’s 410-sprint car main event, both Allard and Larson approached Thursday’s race with a slightly different perspective. Allard is used to having the home-track advantage, and Larson is used to being the favorite after his previous Gold Cup success.

Kyle Larson speeds around turn three at the Silver Dollar Speedway on Thursday in Chico. (Matt Bates — Enterprise-Record)

However, since Larson has shifted his attention to NASCAR and Allard is turning wrenches for Offill, both racers have moved into slightly different roles.

“Obviously there’s kids that look up to me, but I’m just out there racing and driving as hard as I can every lap,” Larson said. “Hopefully some of those kids that are up in the stands watching me I’ll get the chance to compete with someday and race side by side with them.”

Despite Kaeding winning the 30-lap main event, Allard’s return home to Chico this time around was clearly about more than racing.

“You gotta give back to the sport that gave so much to you and I was taught that by a few guys,” Allard said. “They always gave. They had to know you were dedicated and they had to know that you’d work at it. I like to give back to those that are dedicated to winning and putting time into their craft.”

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