No Laps, No Problem for Kyle Larson

MADISON, ILLINOIS - JUNE 04: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Valvoline Chevrolet, enters his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2022 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Before practice on Friday afternoon, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson had never turned a lap at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Unlike most other competitors who were unfamiliar with the track, Larson hadn’t had time to learn any of the nuances of the 1.25-mile speedway on the simulator.

Instead, Larson is relying on his ability as a quick study.

“Yeah, I haven’t raced here,” Larson said. “I’ve raced at Tri-City (Speedway), which is 15 minutes from here; Pevely (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55), which is probably 35 minutes; and then at the Dome (in downtown St. Louis). So, I’ve raced all around it, but never here.

“I’m excited. I haven’t had too much time at all to prepare. I hadn’t gotten to run any laps here to test or nothing on a simulator… I’m excited about the opportunity. I’ve always wanted to race here, so it’s nice that we have Cup weekend here now.”

Sure enough, Larson posted the eighth fastest speed in Friday’s final practice. On the flip side, he was 15thfastest in time trails on Saturday morning.

But Larson will have 240 laps to learn the fine points of the track in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300. That should give him ample time.