Kyle Larson has become competitive every week on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. 2017 was a breakout year for the young driver from Elk Grove, CA. Larson found his way to victory lane an impressive four times last season while also scoring 20 top-ten finishes.
One of those wins came in the fall race at Richmond Raceway. As the series heads back to Richmond this weekend, fresh off a strong second place finish last week at Bristol, Larson assessed himself and his team’s short track program during the media availability on Friday.
‘I feel like our short track program has become really competitive over the last few years. Aside from Martinsville, I don’t even know if our package is good or bad there; I think I’m just not very good there. But, for us to get a couple two finishes here at Richmond now the last couple of years, at a track that I struggle a lot at, I think says a lot about our short track program. Even Bristol, I think Bristol is my best race track but a few years ago I would just kind of run around eighth to 12th. But now lately, I’ve been able to lead the most laps and get close to wins. So, I feel like our short track program is right up there with our downforce package. I think our intermediate and two-mile stuff is really good. But, you can throw Louden in there as well. We’ve been really strong there with a few top two finishes there. I get excited for short tracks even though it doesn’t suit my driving style.”
2018 has been somewhat up and down for Larson. After eight races, Larson has in the top-ten four times. In the remaining four races, he finished 19th, 18th, 16th and a dismal 36th at Texas after a crash. He has led 254 laps, but only completed 91.9% of the total laps. Most of those unfinished laps, however, came in one event at Texas where he crashed.
Larson is very optimistic heading into the weekend given the good run and luck he had here last fall and the fact that Richmond is a unique track. “It’s unique. It’s a pretty flat short track. The front stretch is round. You have to take care of your tires quite a bit, which makes it challenging for sure. Typically this hasn’t been a good race track for me, but for whatever reason, the last time we were here we were about a top 3 car all race long. (Martin) Truex was really fast. But, I was a little bit lucky there at the end with a caution to beat him off pit road and get the win. I think that adds a little bit of confidence coming back here; but at the same time, I’ve struggled here in the past. I don’t know if I’ll be as good as I was last time, but I hope so. Even though I’ve struggled in the past I enjoy this track because it is different than what we typically go to.”