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No. 7: BC39 Returns, Larson Ends Dominant Summer with Indy Win

Note: The editorial staff at IMS.com is taking a look back at the 10 biggest moments of 2021 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in this year-end series, with one installment appearing on the site per day in countdown fashion from Dec. 22-31.

The 2021 edition of the Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink at The Dirt Track at IMS was a significant event in many ways.

For starters, the event returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway schedule after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the two-night event that honors the late Bryan Clauson returned in a big way as some of the world’s best drivers from USAC, NASCAR and INDYCAR battled each other to win one of the USAC National Midget Championship’s biggest prizes.

Star drivers competing in the race included 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, 2013 Brickyard 400 winner Ryan Newman, NASCAR Cup Series rookie Chase Briscoe, USAC Triple Crown winner and NASCAR driver JJ Yeley and NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Conor Daly.

It was such a big event that NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Jeff Gordon hopped in a USAC Midget for the first time in nearly three decades over the summer to promote the race. He also served as the grand marshal for night one of the Driven2SaveLives BC39 by waving the green flag and by turning laps before the Stoops Pursuit.

IMS Chairman Roger Penske also took in his first BC39 to the cheers of a nearly sold-out grandstands.

However, NASCAR Cup Series’ newest champion Larson stood the tallest after scoring his first BC39 victory in thrilling fashion. He overcame two late-race restarts and even contact while battling for the lead with Thomas Meseraull.

Larson and “T-Mez” banged wheels with five laps to go in Turn 4 while side-by-side for the lead. Meseraull’s right front wheel broke, and Larson advanced to victory a night after he won the Stoops Pursuit exhibition race for a clean sweep of both races in the event.

The victory also capped a dominant summer in many forms of motorsports for Larson. Between May 30 and Aug. 19, Larson won NASCAR crown jewel race the Coca-Cola 600 and four additional NASCAR Cup Series races, as well as the Kings Royal and Knoxville Nationals in sprint cars and even the Prairie Dirt Classic in a late model.

It was an epic return for the two-night dirt race that already has become a staple of the Racing Capital of the World, and after the race, drivers already were looking forward to getting dirty in 2022.

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