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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Kyle Larson handled the elements and the competition on Wednesday to win the Fifth Annual NASCAR Touring & Weekly Series Champions/Media Karting Challenge as Champions Week got into full swing.
Larson, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion, deftly handled the ever-changing track conditions as rain drops intermittently fell at Mooresville (N.C.) Motorplex while fending off challenges from Dylan Kwasniewski, champion from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, and Ander Vilarino, who claimed the first Euro-Racecar NASCAR Touring Series title.
“It was fun to go out there and compete with these guys,” said the 20-year-old Larson, out of Elk Grove, Calif. “The wet track definitely made it interesting.”
The first portion of the event paired the eight NASCAR champions with media members for a 20-minute race. The champions battled for the first 10 minutes and then pulled into the pits and made a driver change on the fly. Their media teammate took the wheel the rest of the way.
The team of NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III and MRN’s Kyle Rickey earned the win. They were able to outrun the duo of D.J. Kennington, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 and Derek Pernesiglio, pit reporter for K&N Pro Series races on SPEED. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby teamed with Jeff Wackerlin from MRN to take third place.
“I had a great teammate in Brunnhoelzl,” said Rickey. “The key was the driver exchange. The kart was set up perfectly to exit and the seat belt didn’t create any problems like it did for some of the others.”
Rickey was slated to leave early in the morning for a family vacation, but he pushed back the departure time to allow for some racing.
“It’s a ‘can’t miss’ event,” stated Rickey. “I’ve competed in this for the last few years and it’s a blast. We cover these guys all season and it’s really fun to get out there with them.”
The final event was a 15-minute race among the eight 2012 title winners.
“It’s kind of a bragging rights thing, but all of these guys are obviously talented and had great seasons,” said Larson.
The event is part of a weeklong series of special activities in the Charlotte area for drivers and track representatives leading up to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Friday, Dec. 7, and the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards on Saturday, Dec. 8. Both ceremonies along with a Red Carpet pre-show will be streamed live on www.nascarhometracks.com in English, French and Spanish. Coverage will get underway at 5 p.m. ET each evening.
Later Wednesday evening, the series champions will be honored at a special dinner affair in The Hall of Honor inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Kyle Rickey, left, host of MRN's Modified Madness, teamed up with NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III to win the media portion of the Fifth Annual NASCAR Touring & Weekly Series Champions/Media Karting Challenge. Scott Hunter/NASCAR