Kyle Larson bounces off the wall to keep Playoff hopes alive

After dominating most of Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400, Kyle Larson thought his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff run was over when he plowed into a Turn 1 wreck after a restart on Lap 104 of 109.

Larson’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was all but destroyed. The right front suspension was damaged and the right front tire canted at an angle that made it all but impossible for Larson to turn left.

With one circuit left at the 2.28-mile, 17-turn Charlotte Road Course, Larson was the last car on the lead lap, one point out of the final Playoff position with a car he could barely control. As Larson approached the backstretch chicane, Jeffrey Earnhardt spun in the last corner, and his car turned backwards and lost power.

As Earnhardt tried to get his car re-fired, Larson negotiated Turn 3, bounced hard off the (NASCAR oval) Turn 4 wall and kept going through the chicane. Before crossing the finish line, Larson bounced off the outside wall again. But he finished one position ahead of Earnhardt, enough to earn a tie for 11th in the standings with Aric Almirola and Jimmie Johnson.

Larson and Almirola advanced to the Round of 12 on a tiebreaker based on best finish in the Round of 16.

“I ran hard through, whatever, (NASCAR Turns 1 and 2) over there and through the Bus Stop (backstretch chicane), and then blew a right front (in the) center of (Turns) 3 and 4 and plowed the wall, I was like, ‘Crap, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get down to make the chicane, but luckily it came down off the banking and I could turn right okay.

“So I got through the 16th corner, and then (in) 17 I hit the wall again on the frontstretch, and the 96 (Earnhardt) was stalled the whole time. I think they told me the 96 was stalled when I was like at the backstretch over there, and he wasn’t able to get his car re-fired…

“He was like 100 feet from the start finish line. I could start to see him creep in when I was getting to 16.  I was like, ‘Gosh, don’t go, don’t go,’ and we were able to make it. Hey, I was pretty lucky.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.