MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
CAMPING WORLD 500
PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 17, 2017
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed the strong start to his season, the implications of the Joey Logano/Kyle Busch scuffle last week at Las Vegas, his thoughts on the new stage format and many other topics. Full Transcript:
DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT’S YOUR TIME TO REALLY COME AND SEIZE THE LEAD HERE THIS WEEKEND?
“I hope so. Our cars have had great speed every week. I’m very happy with everybody’s hard work at our shop, the hard work they put in through the off season and through the beginning of the year. A win would be nice and it would be nice to be the point leader right now, but we just have to keep these solid runs going and build on that momentum and hopefully the wins will start coming. Like I said though, I’m really happy right now having a lot of fun and hopefully we can keep it going.”
DO YOU THINK YOUR DIRT TRACK ACTIVITIES HAVE HELPED YOU WITH THE STAGES THIS YEAR?
“No. No, I mean I don’t think so. It’s still the same length race you just get a caution after some laps. No, I don’t feel like the dirt racing has done anything. I feel like our race cars are better than they’ve ever been. So, I think that is why we run inside the top 10 all race long so far to start the season. It’s not that I’ve got experience running heat races and stuff is why…”
DOES THE EXPERIENCE RUNNING SHORT SEGMENTS AT THE DIRT RACES IS THAT HELPING YOU AT ALL?
“No, I mean I don’t think it matters. Everybody races hard every lap. I don’t know. I don’t really know who to answer that because I don’t feel like it does anything like I don’t think my heat races and stuff or short races background effects it.”
CAN YOU POINT TO ANYTHING AS TO WHY YOU, CHASE ELLIOTT, RYAN BLANEY WITH THIS NEW FORMAT WITH THE STAGES IT SEEMS TO HAVE REALLY BENEFITTED THE YOUNGER GUYS? DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANYTHING TO THAT ANALYSIS AS WELL?
“No, I mean it’s kind of the same answer as before. I think our race cars are just really good. I think our race cars are all just really good right now. I don’t think our age or inexperience or experience helps us. I think our race cars are just really good right now.”
YOU HAVE FINISHED SECOND IN THREE OF THE LAST FOUR POINTS RACES. DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT THAT BECAUSE YOU ARE RUNNING UP FRONT OR FRUSTRATED BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T QUITE BEEN ABLE TO CLOSE THE DEAL GIVEN THAT THESE RACES ARE SO HARD TO WIN?
“No, I’m not frustrated at all. I would love to run second every single week. That would mean we have a great shot at winning the championship. No, I mean obviously, it would be nice to get a win and we have challenged now for most of the last probably five races. So, yeah, it’s really cool to run up front, but at the same time it’s not frustrating because it’s good. I’ve never had this speed this early in the year. I’m soaking it all in and enjoying it.”
IS YOUR APPROACH DIFFERENT THIS YEAR WITH THE STAGE RACING?
“I think qualifying is more important now and it’s been nice that we have been qualifying well because that helps you in that first stage to finish in the top 10. And then I think, last week, you got to see a little bit of the strategy come into play with getting cautions there late and some people pitting, some people staying out, some people taking two tires. I think that makes it exciting. This is the first race that I think we won’t… it’s not the… we won’t have to do a green flag stop. We can make it to the end of a stage without a caution. I think that might be a little different if there were cautions to play or whatever, but I have enjoyed the stage racing so far. I don’t know what the fans opinions have been on it, but I really think that it’s made the racing exciting. I look back to Atlanta where the first stage I was kind of falling back and could see three or four guys coming in my mirror getting close and I was just racing really hard the last few laps of that to stay in front of them and was able to and gain a point. Then the second stage of that race I was catching (Ryan) Newman and (Martin) Truex (Jr) and was racing really hard to get by them, where normally in the past you probably wouldn’t push it that hard the first quarter and first half of a race. I’ve really enjoyed it and I hope the fans have as well.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE IF YOU ARE MAD ENOUGH AT SOMEBODY AFTER LAST WEEK THAT YOU CAN DO DOWN AND PUNCH THEM? WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DO IT?
“Looking how big I am (laughs). I can’t do that. Joey (Logano) has got probably about two feet longer reach on me too. No, but, I’m not the fighting type. I don’t think I’ve ever been mad enough that I have ever wanted to punch somebody. Mainly probably because I’m scared that I am the one that is going to get beat up. No, I don’t know. Maybe I’m small enough too, I’m a lot smaller than most of the other drivers that maybe they will see the disadvantage while they are walking over to my car and won’t punch me. That was pretty exciting last week.”
HAVE YOU WATCHED ANY REPLAYS OF THE WRECK? JOEY LOGANO SAID HE MADE A MISTAKE. ANY IDEA HOW BIG OF A MISTAKE DID HE MAKE?
“Yeah, the replays are good, but also you don’t get the replay of us in our cockpit. That view is the one that tells the tale. It’s hard to say. He definitely got in there a little hot and it looked like he clipped the apron maybe some, which upset his car and got him chasing up the track. I hate it that they both had to go through that. Kyle (Busch) finished bad and then the whole fight from everything about it, but it’s hard racing and they will move on from it I’m sure and race hard with each other.”
HOW IS CHIP GANASSI BENEFITTED WITH STEWART-HAAS RACING OUT OF THE CHEVROLET CIRCLE?
“So, the only thing that I have noticed different now is we share driver data, so throughout practice I can look at all four of the Hendrick driver’s stuff and they can look at my driver data as well. So, like throttle braking, steering, RPM’s, stuff like that. We at Chip Ganassi Racing build our own chassis. I know Jeff (Gordon) maybe confused some people on the broadcast saying we had Hendrick chassis’, but at our race shop we build our own chassis’. All we really get from Hendrick is that driver data, as far as I know, there might be more behind the scenes. But the driver data and the engines.”
YOU, JAMIE MCMURRAY AND GRAY GAULDING WERE THE ONLY THREE TO POST 10 CONSECUTIVE LAPS IN THIS FIRST PRACTICE SESSION. ARE YOU GETTING A HEAD START ON RACE TRIM OR IS EVERYBODY ELSE JUST HIDING WHAT THEY’VE GOT?
“So this year we’ve, in that first practice we tried to use up that first set of tires and make a longer run before we got to qualifying trim. That is what we’ve been doing. I wasn’t super happy with our long run speed, it was only 10 laps, but I felt like we fell off too much, so we will probably have to work on that overnight and try to make it better for tomorrow. This is as hot as it’s ever been here for us, so I think everybody is fighting balance a little bit.”
DO YOU THINK IT WAS APPROPRIATE TO NOT HAND OUT A PENALTY IN THE LOGANO/BUSCH THING? SHOULD THOSE GUYS HAVE BEEN PENALIZED?
“I don’t have an opinion on that. I don’t know. It’s their call. Obviously, with our new sponsor Monster Energy they’re an edgy brand, so I think what you saw last week was edgy. I don’t know though. It’s just hard they (NASCAR) used to penalize people for that stuff and now they don’t. I don’t think anybody knows really where they stand on it.”