CHEVY MENCS AT SONOMA: Kyle Larson Press Conf. Transcript

(Chevy)

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350
SONOMA RACEWAY

TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPTS

JUNE 23, 2017

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Sonoma Raceway and discussed his approach to Sonoma this weekend, all the success he has experienced thus far in 2017, competing at his home track and many other topics.  Full Transcript:

HOW WILL YOU USE THE MOMENTUM OF LAST WEEKS WIN TO PLAY INTO THIS WEEKEND?
“Yeah, we definitely have some really good momentum going for me in all different types of motorsports right now.  It’s been a lot of fun the last week or so, winning a lot of races in different cars.  Hopefully, we can come here, it’s a totally different race track than what I’ve been on this year.  Looking forward to it though, I always enjoy coming to Sonoma and hanging out in Napa Valley with some friends and coming to do road course racing is always fun too.  I feel like I’ve gotten better at it over the last couple of years.  If we can qualify good and have a good race.”

DO YOU FEEL CONFIDENT COMING TO THIS TRACK?
“Yeah, I’m always pretty confident when I go to here or Watkins Glen.  I feel like these places feel most similar to a sprint car than our typical ovals do.  I feel like I can feel the car better at these places.  I don’t have a ton of great finishes, but I typically run up front at this race.  From what I remember about this race last year, I ran, I don’t know, fifth to seventh or eighth the whole time.  And then got caught on pit road or we sped and then had to make that up at the end of the race.  Didn’t get the finish that we deserved last year, but always run up front.  I love coming to these road courses.  I think it kind of throws another element into it and these places are kind of drivers race tracks.  I think that is why you see like (AJ) Allmendinger run good here and those guys just because you can make up for your car not handling right.”

HAVE YOU DISCUSSED WITH YOU CREW CHIEF, CREW ON THE NEW RULES?  HOW DO YOU THINK THE RACE WILL PLAY OUT THIS YEAR VERSUS LAST YEAR?
“Yeah, I mean, I think just the less downforce will just make it harder to drive.  I think about the esses and they are really fast. I remember struggling through there last year and last year was less downforce than the previous season, so I think it will just be another step of being hard to drive and a lot of fun.”

YOU SAID THE CARS ON THE ROAD COURSES THEY FEEL MORE LIKE A SPRINT CAR TO YOU THAN ON AN OVAL.  WHY IS THAT?
“On the ovals, we have the no ride height rules, so they are just stuck to the race track and they are pretty ridged and don’t move around a whole lot, where sprint cars kind of flex around and you can feel the suspension a lot more.  I mean you can look at all the pictures and stuff of the stock cars going around here, I mean the front ends are flying in the air and there is a lot of movement.  Like you can feel the grip better, so I think that is why it kind of … I feel more comfortable I guess.  I don’t want to say I’m more comfortable coming to a road course than an oval, but I feel like I can understand and feel the car better when I come here.”

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT BEING THE POINTS LEADER HERE AT YOUR HOME TRACK AND WHAT THAT MEANS TO YOU?  WITH THE SUCCESS THAT YOU HAVE HAD THIS YEAR ARE YOU PUTTING A NEW FACE ON NASCAR GOING FORWARD?
“Yeah, being the point leader coming home to California is a cool thing.  Anytime you can be the point leader is fun, but to get it back before we come home is cool.  And then we have been running good a lot of us young guys have been running good this year, so it’s a great time for us all to kind of step up and show the sport and the fans that we can take it over… not necessarily take it over, but do a good job for the sport and be a face for NASCAR.  I think myself, Chase (Elliot), (Ryan) Blaney, (Daniel) Suarez, (Erik) Jones, Austin Dillon, (Ricky) Stenhouse, we are all under 30.  (Joey) Logano is still really young, I think with Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. retiring this year we are still in a good spot or better spot with him retiring because I think it is a great opportunity for all of us.”

YOU ARE LOCKED IN FOR THE POST SEASON, BUT THE BATTLE YOU ARE HAVING WITH MARTIN (TRUEX, JR.) TRYING TO ACCUMULATE PLAYOFF POINTS DOES THAT KEEP IT FRESH AND KEEP YOU MOTIVATED?  IS THERE VALUE IN THAT BACK AND FORTH AS YOU HEAD TOWARD THE FALL?
“Yeah, no doubt.  The regular season points have been a big priority of mine because it pays 15 points to be the leader at the end of Richmond.  Which is a big deal, it’s like winning three races.  I think it goes like 15, 10 and then maybe drops by one down.  I’m not sure exactly how it works, but 15 bonus points would be huge.  Trying to stay as consistent as I can and race hard every race.  I think in the previous points format if you get a win early on you can kind of cruise a little bit and lose your drive on wanting to win as much.  Now, with the bonus points on the line every week it is a big deal to run up front all throughout the races.”

YOU ARE PRETTY WELL KNOWN FOR VIDEO GAMES, SIMULATORS, ALL THAT SORT OF THING.  HAVE YOU SPENT ANYTIME AT ALL SIMULATING THIS RACE TRACK BECAUSE IT’S SO DIFFERENT FROM RUNNING ON THE OVALS?
“I would say I was big into video games and stuff like that when I was a little bit younger.  I don’t do it a whole lot anymore, especially, with having Owen (Larson, son), you know I don’t have time for that.  And I have been racing all week, so, no I haven’t spent any time on a simulator getting ready for Sonoma.  I’ve watched a little bit of video and gone over notes before I just came in here on history of balance that I felt and going over what gears to be in and stuff like that.  This is my fourth year in Cup, so I kind of remember things about this race track where you know probably the first, well definitely the first year I was a rookie and even the second year you kind of forget a lot of the stuff you learned.  So, now being my fourth time around, I feel like I have learned the characteristics of this place and we will see when practice starts, but I don’t think it takes me too long to get fired up for a road course.”

SINCE YOU’VE BEEN THE POINTS LEADER HAVE YOU HEARD ANY INCREASED ATTENTION FROM YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY OR MEDIA IN THE SACRAMENTO AND NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA?
“No, I always feel like whenever we get ready for this race I get a lot of media stuff just because it’s my home track.  It doesn’t matter if I’m the point leader or back when I was probably 24th in points at this time.  I always look forward to coming out West.  Great food, we did some wine tasting the last couple of days.  Had a nice little dinner at the Abreu ranch yesterday.  Sonoma is always kind of spent as a vacation with a little bit of racing involved as well, so it’s fun.”

THE STAGE RACING IS GOING TO CHANGE A LOT OF THE DYNAMICS OF THIS RACE MOVING FROM A TWO STOP RACE TO MAYBE A FOUR STOP.  SO, THERE IS A LOT MORE THAT CAN HAPPEN.  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE MULTIPLE STOPS?
“Yeah, I haven’t thought about really the way stage racing is going to affect the race here yet.  That is a good point because, yeah, I don’t know.  I don’t think it would turn into a four-stop race, but possibly a three stop race rather than typically being a two-stop race, but I don’t know. I would have to talk to the engineers, they are smart. I just pit when they tell me to pit.”

NOW THAT YOU HAVE A COUPLE OF SUPERSPEEDWAYS UNDER YOUR BELT IN TERMS OF STAGE RACING DOE THE STRATEGY THERE TAKE ON A LITTLE BIT OF A DIFFERENT ASPECT THAN OTHER TRACKS?
“No, I don’t think so.  I don’t know.  I don’t think it is much different than a track that has been newly repaved or something where the tires don’t fall off and the pace is always up.  You’ve got some teams that try and still play it to gain stage points, but then you also have teams that want to position themselves for dumping as little fuel as they can for that last stop.  Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t think stage racing has been too crazy different at those tracks.”

IN YOUR TERMS WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS THIS YEAR TO?
“I think on the NASCAR side of things I think our race cars have just gotten a lot better this year.  They were pretty good halfway through to the end last year, but throughout the off season we just got our cars a lot better.  It’s allowed me to not probably overdrive as much and make mistakes.  That part of it has been cool, driving fast race cars and being a contender every week in this series is a big deal.  We have run up front a lot this year and even in my dirt stuff I’ve run up front and contended for wins every time I’ve raced.  It’s just been a really fun year.”

JEFF GORDON PICKED YOU OUT AT THE DAYTONA 500 AS THE NEW KID TO WATCH.  DID YOU KNOW THAT EARLY ON THAT HE HAD HIS EYE ON YOU?  HAVE YOU TALKED TO HIM SINCE HE RETIRED ABOUT THE KIND OF SUCCESS YOU ARE HAVING?
“I knew Jeff (Gordon) was a big supporter of mine before I ever raced a stock car.  I had a good year in 2011 racing USAC and stuff like that throughout the mid-west.  He talked very highly of me then, as well as, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne.  That kind of got my name noticed in North Carolina and got some race teams paying attention to me and eventually got me hired by Chip (Ganassi).  Yeah, I’ve always known Jeff has been a big supporter of mind and it’s been cool to see him in the broadcast booth talking about me.  He was the guy that I cheered for the most growing up and to have somebody that I got to cheer for and then eventually race with and then also have him talking highly of me is a cool thing.  I’ve learned a lot from him and he has definitely been a good role model for sure.”

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