February 17, 2017
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Becker Golden on Night 2 of the Gold Cup Race of Champions
The Californian nabs his first career World of Outlaws victory at Silver Dollar Speedway
World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series PR
CHICO, CA (9-7-12) - As he climbed out of his sprint car and listened to the roar of the crowd, Sean Becker raised his hands in the air and let out a half yell.
With confetti raining down on Victory Lane, Becker was emotional and seemingly stunned after he recorded his first career World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series feature victory Friday night at Silver Dollar Speedway.
The win came on the second night of the 59th annual Gold Cup Race of Champions and it helped lock him into Saturday's $20,000-to-win feature.
"I grew up watching my dad race at this track in the late '80s, early '90s," Becker said. "(I) grew up watching Sammy Swindell, Steve Kinser, all these guys. It's a huge accomplishment for me. There's no greater moment right now."
While Becker nabbed the win it came at the expense of fellow Californian Kyle Larson, who led the first 19 laps before his right rear tire went flat during a red flag with 11 laps remaining. Larson repeatedly spun his rear tires during the caution laps in an effort to create more air, but he was doomed from the restart.
Becker powered by Larson at the flag stand to complete lap 20 only to see Larson slide back into the lead entering turns three and four. However, Becker again rocketed off the bottom of turn four to gain the top spot at the finish line before Craig Dollansky continued his rough weekend by spinning in turn four to cause a caution on lap 21.
Dollansky, who was running seventh on the previous restart, had to rejoin the field in 16th. He later finished 13th, which dropped him 35 points behind Donny Schatz in the World of Outlaws championship battle.
Larson continued to struggle with the flat tire as Tim Kaeding drove into second place on lap 23 and Joey Saldana passed Larson for third on lap 24. Larson lost several more positions before the tire gave out on lap 29. He ended up finishing 14th.
Becker outlasted a couple of late cautions to cruise to the victory, although it was much easier said than done.
"It was just gut wrenching," Becker said. "I knew if I held my line on the top, I knew it was going to leave an opening for them to pull some slide jobs on me. So I just wanted to make sure I got a good, clean restart and hooked up off the bottom and just railed around the top. I jumped the cushion a few times during that race so I was tiptoeing it in there quite a few times, but to finally be able to do it is just huge for me."
Kaeding, a fellow Californian, finished second to earn his second consecutive podium.
"We moved up one spot from last night and hopefully tomorrow we can move up one more," he said. "California guys have struggled here the last few years, so hopefully we can keep everything rolling and keep the California guys up in the front and having fun these next couple of days out here with the Outlaws."
Saldana rebounded from an early miscue to earn third place, which was his 21st top five of the season.
"On that restart I just totally screwed up, hit that infield tire and hit the second one so I should have took myself out," he said. "Just driver error. We've been struggling with our car, so when you finally get a good car it's pretty frustrating when the driver screws up. But it was definitely my fault tonight, so hopefully (we will) come back tomorrow and be a little better."
Schatz placed fourth to pad his championship advantage and Sammy Swindell finished fifth. Jason Sides was sixth, Jonathan Allard seventh, Jac Haudenschild eighth, Kraig Kinser ninth and Lucas Wolfe rounded out the top 10.Kyle Hirst powered from last - 24th - to finish 11th, which earned him the KSE Hard Charger Award.