DAYTONA BEACH, FL :: When the checkered flag fell on the Inaugural Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway last night, Kyle Larson became a villain and CE Falk III become a victim.
There’s no two ways to tell the story of the final lap of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model race at Daytona. Larson wrecked Falk for the win. He didn’t bump him and drive on, he flat out dumped Falk. Either way, Larson stood in victory lane, hoisted the trophy and he’ll cash the check while Falk will go home with a bruised ego and thoughts of what could have been.
Larson is a brash young upstart who already has a contract with Earnhardt Gannassi Racing and will be running the NASCAR Nationwide Series full time in 2013 for Turner Scott Motorsports. Falk is Virginia Beach, VA native who has aspired for years to make it to the top levels but hasn’t yet got his shot. He has run a couple of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races but he’s most known to the racing world for a last lap bump and run on Denny Hamlin in the final Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown held at Southside Speedway, before the event was moved to Richmond International Raceway.
Falk has always been cool, calm and collected. Even in the most heated battles, somehow, the young man has kept his composure. That was scene once again as after Larson spun him in turn four coming to the checkered flag, Falk remained reserved. He showed the maturity of a driver twice his age and he has been hailed as a class act by race fans all over social media and in some ways becoming a victim of the finish last night made Falk a hero to short track racers and fans everywhere.
While I’m certainly a fan of the way he handled himself, I think last night he may have given his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competitors the wrong idea. Larson blatantly ran over Falk and he did nothing about it. His competitors back home, most of which didn’t run this race but watched it live on SPEED TV, saw this unfold. Somewhere in the back of their minds, they’ll store this memory and one day, when the race plays out like they want it to, they too can run over Falk. After all, he’s a class act and won’t do anything about it, right?
Now, I’m not saying that Falk should have turned all psycho redneck on Larson and turned him and plowed his car head on. I’m not saying that at all, because we’ve seen just how that turns out for a racer in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. There had to be a million things going through Falk’s mind at the time he exited his car in dismay after losing that way. He should have shown the world something.
Simply walking over to where Larson had parked his car just a short distance away and showing him his displeasure would have been enough. Larson wasn’t going to fight, he had too much to lose and Falk can obviously keep his cool under pressure, so there wasn’t going to be any punches thrown. Falk is a class act, but he stayed a little too cool and needed to have at least let Larson know in front of the fans and with TV Cameras around that he wasn’t going to take it.
I know Falk gained a ton of respect from the fans last night but at the same time he showed a sign of weakness to his competitors. Why wouldn’t you just run over Falk if push came to shove he wouldn’t do anything about it?