Newfound speed has Kyle Larson optimistic for Playoff run

The speed Kyle Larson found at Darlington Raceway, where he led 284 of 367 laps before finishing third, gave the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet a boost of confidence heading into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

But what was the source of the newfound speed? Larson said something clicked during an Aug. 27-28 test at Richmond Raceway.

“I felt like we had been… I wouldn’t say struggling, but we weren’t running where I wanted to run or the team wanted to run,” Larson said on Thursday at Playoffs media day at South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa. “We were still getting top 10s and stuff, but I didn’t see us being fast enough to contend for a championship.

“We had a really good test at Richmond. Normally when you go to a test, it feels like a waste of two days. But there, I felt like we learned three or four good things, and we implemented it into our Darlington car and dominated the race. We didn’t get the win, but we dominated.”

Richmond is a .75-mile short track, Darlington a 1.366-mile intermediate speedway, but Larson trusted crew chief Chad Johnston to incorporate what he found at Richmond into the car that was being readied to run at Darlington.

“I trust Chad,” Larson said. “And I remember that, right after we made the run where he made a change, he was immediately calling our car chief at the shop to get it put on the Darlington car.

“He and the engineers have the brains, and, anyway, we’re turning left…”

About Greg Engle 7420 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.