Copeland crowned champion of Kyle Larson showcase; Becker wins main event
By Sharon Martin, Chico Enterprise-Record
Daniel Becker emphatically stuck his fist out in celebration once he crossed the finish line to win the A Main Event open division race of the inaugural Kyle Larson Outlaw Kart Showcase on Tuesday night at Cycleland Speedway.
After completing the 50 lap marathon event, which crept into early Wednesday morning, Becker took the time to do some celebratory donuts. Becker, then hopped out the No. 22S outlaw kart, climbed the front straightaway fence and shook it in excitement in front of the loaded grandstands.
“I’m just ecstatic,” Becker said after the race. “The year I’ve had — I’ve missed most of the main events this year and just to make it with all these karts, it’s just amazing to me. To come away with a win, it’s bittersweet. I can’t really explain the whole thing.”
Becker won the final race of the night and couldn’t help but celebrate in front the packed grandstands at Cycleland.
“It’s amazing. The caliber of these drivers, I can’t explain keeping ahead of these guys,” he said.
The 32-year-old from Oroville and brother of Silver Dollar Speedway regular Sean Becker, almost wasn’t able to compete Tuesday until he got his hands on a kart last Friday.
“Going into last Friday I didn’t have a car,” Becker said. “I had to build it on Friday and luckily I got it done and made for this race because I don’t think I would’ve been able to make it.”
Becker took the lead from Michael Kofoid on the restart following the midpoint intermission. For the 50 lap race, drivers were given a five minute break to make any adjustments on the car as long as it didn’t include changing tires.
Becker was able to hold off second place finisher Colby Copeland, who was the champion of the entire night, earning enough points throughout qualifying and the main event race to be crowned the first Kyle Larson Outlaw Kart Showcase winner. Copeland grabbed the lead briefly after sliding past Becker in turn three, but Becker fought back for the position.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s a huge race and to be where we’re at, I know it takes a lot of work,” Copeland calmly said after being presented with the championship trophy.
Copeland earned the most points and took home the top prize of $5,500, beating 163 other karts that were registered in the open division.
Other notable competitors were NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., as well as Cycleland regulars Holly Shelton and Kalib Henry. With the Gold Cup Race of Champions also in town, World of Outlaws driver Rico Abreu, Shane Stewart, Brad Sweet and David Gravel were part of the field.
Copeland, the 23-year-old Roseville native, also worked his way up from eighth place to win the ninth heat race of the night. When Copeland came out to Cycleland for practice last weekend, he said he didn’t run as well and actually blew up an engine during hot laps.
Tuesday, he quietly made his way up to the front, beating out the other high caliber names and heavy local favorites. Larson finished the A main event in 17th after his car broke, while Stenhouse took 8th. Stenhouse, who grabbed a win in the C Main Event, started the race in the rear of the pack and sliced his way up to finish in the top 10. Shelton, who was considered the heavy favorite entering the showcase, suffered car trouble early on, leading to a 22nd place finish and Henry took 7th.
“It’s kind of better to be that way, to not have any pressure on you or the spotlight on you,” Copeland said. “There was a lot of big names here and in this situation it’s maybe good not to have your name at the top of the list.”
Following the race, Copeland also celebrated by doing celebratory donuts in turn one of the track. However, his donuts were a little too aggressive as his No. 81 kart tipped over and landed on its side, prompting the infield officials to run out onto the track to place Copeland’s kart back on its tires.
Copeland will continue racing the rest of the week at Silver Dollar. He’ll take part in the USAC race on Thursday and race in the World of Outlaws series on Friday and Saturday.
“Hopefully this is the momentum we need to carry on the good luck for better things at Silver Dollar in Chico,” Copeland said.