MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 5, 2017
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 SHARE AN ICE COLD COKE CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed being the point leader through the first quarter of the 2017 season, what he learned about restrictor plate racing at Daytona that he can apply to this weekend’s event at Talladega and many other topics. Full Transcript:
WHAT HAS THIS EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE FOR YOU LEADING THE POINTS THROUGH A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE SEASON? HOW HAS THAT CHANGED YOUR PERSPECTIVE AS A DRIVER?
“Yeah it’s been cool. I expected to… well I wanted to start the season off good. I didn’t know I would start the season off being the point leader and carrying it through like we have been. It’s just been a lot of fun to show up to the race track knowing we’ve got a fast car and capable of winning almost every race. Just got to keep, myself, got to keep working hard, everybody at the race shop needs to keep working hard to build on what we currently have and make it even better. Just enjoying my time right now and having fun each and every week. If we can have some more solid runs and continue to lead the points.”
IS THE STAGE RACING GOING TO CHANGE SOME POINTS OF VIEW ON WHERE TO RACE? EITHER STAY UP FRONT, RIDE IN THE MIDDLE OR HANG IN THE BACK?
“I guess. I mean we had stage racing at Daytona. I feel like a lot of stuff I’ve read this week, it’s like people forgot that we had stage racing at Daytona. Yeah, I mean I think we saw more teams racing the full race at the (Daytona) 500. I think you typically have eight to 10 guys that ride around the back normally at races like this, but now with having 20 points on the line, two bonus points on the line throughout the first half of the race it seems like we get more people to race. I think stage racing has definitely helped everywhere, but especially the superspeedways to kind of make us have to race. In the past, I’ve always ran hard. I’ve never held back anything. We will continue to do the same.”
THOUGHTS ON ENCUMBERED WIN RULE?
“Yeah, I don’t really have an opinion because I race and I drive the car. However, the tech stuff works that is how it works. I don’t really worry about it a whole lot.”
HOW BIG OF A DEAL IS IT IF A DRIVER HAS AN ENCUMBERED WIN IS LOSING THE FIVE PLAYOFF POINTS? DOES THAT MAKE YOU LOOK AT THINGS LIKE WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW, IF YOU ARE EVEN INVOLVED IN THE CONVERSATION ABOUT HOW FAR TO PUSH THINGS?
“Yeah, like I’m not involved in all that stuff. That is why I don’t really care about it all. But yeah, five bonus points is huge. That could be the difference of making it to Homestead, you never know. The five bonus points is big. I almost think the penalty needs to be, I’m not saying the penalty needs to be bigger, but there are more points on the line throughout the race now with the stages and stuff. So, 25 regular season points doesn’t really seem all that big to me, because you can gain 20 in the first half of a race. I was reading some of that and last year’s points 25 would have been pretty significant, now with the way stage racing is, I honestly don’t feel like 25 points is that much. I know their infraction was pretty minor, but they did get hit with a big penalty, so, yeah, I don’t know. But the five bonus points still taking that away is definitely big.”
SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING SO WELL THIS SEASON HAVE YOU SEEN ANY INTEREST OR BUMP IN SPONSORSHIP INTEREST FROM COMPANIES IN YOUR PROGRAM?
“I mean that is also something I stay out of. I just worry about the driving part of things. I know (Steve) Lauletta (President of Chip Ganassi Racing) and all the other marketing people at Chip Ganassi racing kind of deal with that stuff. I haven’t talked to them really at all about it. But, we have definitely been, with running well I have been in front of the camera a lot more and I feel like that kind of stuff helps gain sponsors and keep sponsors that we currently have happy. Yeah, I don’t know, I guess I would have to ask now. I didn’t really think about all that.”
BEING THE POINTS LEADER THROUGH THE FIRST QUARTER OF THE SEASON, HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THIS FIRST QUARTER?
“It’s been good. We had three consecutive second place finishes that led to the win and then we got another second-place finish after that. Four second place finishes and a win to start, I think our average finish is like basically sixth. It’s been a solid start to the year we’ve just got to keep working hard. It’s a really long season. Teams get better and worse throughout the year, so we’ve just got to continue to dig deep and build on what we have right now to get better and hopefully challenge for some more wins.”
WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU LEARNED FROM DAYTONA THAT YOU CAN APPLY TO THIS WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA? ARE YOU FINDING A LITTLE BIT MORE RESPECT ON THE TRACK AS YOU HAVE MORE SUCCESS?
“Yeah, I thought we had a great Speedweeks. I think our team had put a little bit more emphasis in our superspeedway program and we had more speed, I thought, at Daytona. I was able to get to peoples back bumpers, where in the past I could never do that and I would always get kind of hung out if I was the last guy in line it was hard for me to stay with the draft, where now I feel like I could get pretty racy at Daytona. With that I felt like I learned a ton. I was able to get to the lead a few times during that race, where I have never really gotten to do that before. Putting myself in position to be up front was big and like I said, I learned a lot. I think they made some small adjustments and stuff to our cars to hopefully get some more speed. We will see if we’ve got the same sort of speed as we did at the (Daytona) 500 and maybe learn some more again and try to put that into work.
“As far as respect out on the track and stuff like that I think each year you get a little bit more. My first year, rookie, you know you’ve got the rookie stripe and nobody follows you. That is why you always get shuffled back and get caught up in wrecks and stuff, but each year I feel like I get more and more people to kind of follow you. I think that helps a lot. You see Dale, Jr. he is extremely fast at these places because he is friends with everybody in the field and everybody follows him.”
CAN YOU GET A SENSE, YOU SAID YOU LEARNED A LOT AT DAYTONA THIS YEAR, BUT WHAT DID YOU LEARN BY RUNNING IN THE FRONT AS OPPOSED TO RUNNING IN THE MIDDLE?
“I think what I learned at Daytona was how to kind of start a run and continue that momentum to get to the lead. I have never really, before the (Daytona) 500, I never really was in position to pass somebody for the lead. I could work my way up to sixth, seventh, eighth, around there, but then I would kind of stall out. Where at the (Daytona) 500 I thought that, yeah and I mean I showed you, I led some laps, so I was able to kind of learn how to make runs and get to the lead. Sometimes those runs would kind of disappear because I would make mistakes trying to get them and also being in the lead, I never got to lead before, so I didn’t really know how to manipulate the lines and stuff like that. You’ve got to be extremely aggressive as the leader blocking and stuff like that. I made some mistakes and lost the lead, but was able to get back to the lead and had I not run out of fuel at the (Daytona) 500 I thought I had learned enough throughout the race that nobody would have passed me on that final lap, but you never know either. Like I said, I felt like I learned a lot. That is probably the superspeedway race where I felt like I learned the most.”