Next week, NASCAR stars such as Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Truex, Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr., and more will head out to GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, N.C. for the Little 600 karting event.
However, before the pros hit the outdoor track, members of the NASCAR and local media hopped in the karts to try their hand at the 0.7-mile, 11-turn track.
Motor Racing Network’s Kyle Rickey took the top spot in the qualifying round, while yours truly started the session late but was still able to post the fifth-fastest time.
Between the sessions, members of the media were able to confer with track owners Michael McDowell and Justin Marks, as well as Sprint Cup Series rookies Kyle Larson and Justin Allgaier, both regulars at GoPro Motorplex.
Following the break, it was back out to the grid for the 12-minute feature race. With a single-file rolling start, Rickey led the field to the green flag, with Larson, McDowell and Allgaier starting in the rear.
Once the race got underway, Rickey – a ringer at track – jumped out to an early lead. Battling hard for the fifth spot, I found myself in a three-kart battle through the tight and technical turns.
While I have karting experience, most of my racing took place at Victory Lane Karting in Charlotte, and indoor facility. Racing outside on an asphalt surface took some getting used to for sure.
Racing with hard with the two karts around me, I overdrove the final corner on just the second lap of the race. Sliding off track, over the rumble strips and into the dirt, I watched as the driver behind me, as well as Allgaier, Larson and McDowell screamed past.
Back on track, I was able to regain one spot, as the NASCAR regulars charged ahead to the front of the field.
In the end, Rickey took the checkered flag, followed by McDowell, Allgaier, and Larson. Kevin Wrenn of the High Point, N.C. FOX affiliate was the second-highest finishing media member in fifth, followed by Alan Cavanna of NASCAR.com.
Despite my off-track excursion early in the race, I was able to finish eighth overall, and was the fifth-highest finishing member of the media. Not too bad, but certainly not the results I was hoping for.
At the end of the day, while it was fun to get out on the track and race each other in these high-powered karts, it was only a preview of what drivers will face in next Tuesdayâs Little 600.
"Racing with the media guys and gals that were out there was fun," Allgaier told the assembled media after the event. "Some of you were really, really good. Some of you were learning every lap. Even thought the lap time maybe wasn’t what you wanted, you were gaining every lap. That’s the most fun part, when you can come out and run 10 minutes and get out of it and you had a blast. It’s going to make you want to come back and do it more and work on your skills."
"Don’t feel bad that Kyle Rickey beat you guys," McDowell assured the defeated media members. "He’s out here more than any of us."
"He’s more of ringer than we are," Allgaier added.
Next week’s Little 600 is scheduled for Wed., May 20 from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. at GoPro Motorplex, and is free for fans to watch.
(L-R) Kyle Larson, Motor Racing Network’s Kyle Rickey, Justin Allgaier