Larson says performance gap to the top teams is small—but it’s there

DOVER, DE - MAY 05: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 DC Solar Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 5, 2018 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson doesn’t believe there’s a large chasm between the drivers who have dominated the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season and those who are trying to catch them.

But the difference in big enough to keep the chasers out of Victory Lane.

Four drivers have combined to win 14 of the first 16 events of the season. Kevin Harvick has five victories, Kyle Busch four, Martin Truex Jr. three and Clint Bowyer two. With Joey Logano added to the mix, Ford drivers have won eight times and Toyota drivers seven.

That leaves one triumph for Chevrolet, and that came in the season-opening Daytona 500, when Austin Dillon knocked Aric Almirola’s Ford out of the way to win the Great American Race.

On a consistent basis, Larson has had the fastest Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this year. He’s ninth in the series standings, having finished second three times—at Fontana, Bristol and Pocono. But even though he says the gap to the prolific winners is small, he knows it’s there.

“The top three guys are fairly close,” Larson said. “Any of those three can win kind of every weekend. Then I feel like there is a step to myself, (Brad) Keselowski, Clint Bowyer—he might be a little better than we are—but I feel like we are right there.  I have run second three times this year. I run second a lot, but, yeah, I’ve been close a couple of races.

“Their teams are just performing really well, and they don’t make mistakes, and when they do, they can recover from them easily because their cars are really fast. Our team is making our stuff better and better every week. It seems like every time we go to a 1.5-mile track they’re really excited about the car they are bringing because it’s better than the last one.

“That is all you can ask for is just to get your stuff running better and developed a little bit nicer, and hopefully that stuff pays off. I feel like we’re close. I think other teams probably view us as being pretty close. We’ve just got to get the job done.”

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