Kyle Larson faces more difficult challenge after Saturday

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 19: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 McDonald's Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2019 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

It’s a good thing Kyle Larson enjoys the shifting challenges presented by New Hampshire Motor Speedway, because he’ll need all his skills to salvage a strong finish after starting from the rear in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

In Saturday morning practice at the Magic Mile, Larson locked up the brakes on his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet entering Turn 1 and slammed into the outside wall. Damage to the right front of the car dictated a switch to a backup for Sunday’s race.

“I just locked up the brakes,” Larson said. “Simple as that—locked ‘em up.”

Because he will be driving a backup car, Larson must give up the 15th-place starting spot he earned during time trials on Friday and drop to the rear of the field for the beginning of the race. That will give him plenty of opportunity to test his talent as he tries to move forward.

It will also test his team’s ability to keep up with a track that changes throughout the 301-lap event.

“It’s a fun place because it’s definitely changing quite a bit,” Larson said. “There is a lot of VHT (traction compound) put down at this track and, with it being flatter, I also feel like it wears out more so than other race tracks.

“That’s fun to keep up with, especially during the race where you have to adjust your line throughout the race to keep up with the changing track conditions. I think, being a dirt-track guy, that benefits me a little bit.”

Given his starting spot in the relatively short race, Larson will need all the help he can get.