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…”