Larson ‘happy’ despite second place finish at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 09: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Throwback Chevrolet, Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, and Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 09, 2021 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

For much of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup series Goodyear 400 at Darlington it seemed to be Martin Truex Jr.’s world, everyone else was just living in it. The only driver who seemed to have a shot at the dominating Truex was Kyle Larson.

Truex swept both the stages and at one point had a lead of 9 seconds.

It all changed late in the final stage. During the races final round of green flag stops, Larson pitted one lap earlier than Truex, lap 255, and had a 2 second faster stop. When the stops cycled through Truex, found himself with just a 1.5 second cushion.

Larson, who had a speeding penalty earlier in the race, was able to get to the bumper of Truex, and the two weaved through lapped traffic as the laps wound down. With five laps to go however, Larson began to slip back and Truex went on to victory. Larson had to settle for second.

“I was surprised that I was able to get to him,” Larson said. “I caught him really; like, I closed on pit road and then I caught him pretty quickly once we were on track. I closed right in, and actually had an opportunity to get by him in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2, but I thought I’d stay patient and maybe get him to use his stuff up. He was just a little bit better than I was in the long runs.

“Just wish maybe I could have taken advantage of that opportunity, but thought it was going to play out a little differently.”

It was another disappointing finish for Larson who was in contention for the win at Richmond, Talladega, and Kansas only to come up short.

“We definitely needed to get a good finish,” Larson said. “I thought we were going to get one last week and I messed that up. Three bad weeks in a row, and to come back and contend for a win and finish second and get good stage points after speeding at the end of the first stage, too, yeah, it was a good day.”

Larson is already looking forward.

“Now we go to Dover, which is one of if not my best tracks. Excited about that, and Hendrick Motorsports has been pretty good at Dover from what I remember, too, so looking forward to getting there.”

Larson does have a win this season, and nearing the halfway point of the regular season, Larson likes where he and his team are at.

“We’re one of the top three teams out there, so I’m happy with that,” Larson said. “We’ve been really good to start the year and meshing very well as a team. Really enjoy working with cliff and everybody on the 5 car, and I think we’re just going to continue to grow. Our pit crew has been doing an awesome job. Everybody at the shop has been doing great. You look at all four of our teammates, with myself included, and we’ve been really good.

“Happy about it and looking forward to building from where we’re at.”

Greg Engle