NASCAR superstar Kyle Larson went from hero to zero as an unknown stole the show in a spectacular opening night of Warrnambool’s famous Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Premier Speedway.
Little known Adelaide 30-year-old Scott Bogucki broke through for the biggest win of his career, taking the night one honours after a captivating feature spent duelling with gun local James McFadden.
“I grew up racing go-karts with James and to think we’ve now grown up and we’re racing toe to toe in the Classic is insane!” a thrilled Bogucki said after the $10,000 to win final.
“It’s been a bloody long road to get here and plenty doubted me and didn’t think I’d make it, so this is huge!”
Bogucki and McFadden were joined on the podium by the first of the strong USA contingent, 2014 Classic winner Tim Kaeding finishing third.
Defending Classic champion, veteran Robbie Farr, was fourth.
Just days after claiming his maiden Chili Bowl victory, Larson, who is the headline act at this weekend’s Classic, had a night to forget.
The American crashed heavily in his second heat race, and then blew an engine in the B-main, failing to qualify for the night one final.
Weeks out from the start of the NASCAR season beginning at Daytona, Larson will now need a miracle just to make Sunday night’s Classic finale.
The other hard luck story of the night went to the unlikely duo of Mitchell Gee and Brock Hallett, who shared the front row for the 30-lap feature.
The pair clashed at high speed down the back straight on the opening lap, eliminating both from contention.
Tonight will see the second half of the 107-strong car count qualify, headlined by American big names Carson Macedo and Cory Eliason, plus former Classic winners Brooke Tatnell, Kerry Madsen, Steven Lines and Jamie Veal.