Kyle Larson had a shot to win on Sunday at Pocono. He could have stayed in the throttle on the final restart and put himself in position to earn his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season. But, in the back of his mind was the practice crashes that he endured the last two weeks.
See, Larson crashed in practice at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and had to go to a backup as a result. On Saturday, his No. 42 Chevrolet found the wall in the Tunnel Turn on the Tricky Triangle and once again went to a backup. Larson, didn’t want to crash a third car in two weeks. So, he bailed in knowing that he could still get a top fie finish and bring this car to race another day.
“I didn’t hit the wall, but I got close,” Larson said of his fifth place run in Sunday’s Gander RV 400. “I knew I was going to be close to the wall, so I bailed out of the throttle to keep myself from hitting the wall and lost momentum.
“I felt bad, but it was better than ending up torn up like the last time I was aggressive on a restart. It was a good day. It was a lot better car than I thought I was going to have, so it just goes to show how good our team is right now and how good our cars are. Last week, I felt like we had one of the fastest cars and we didn’t get to show it. Today, I felt like we were one of the fastest cars.
“If I could just race a primary car, who knows what we could do. I just have to clean up a little bit of what I’m doing in practice and the races, and hopefully we can get a win. This just goes to show how good our cars are right now. Any time you have a good run in a backup car, it’s satisfying. The past two weeks in a row I feel like we’ve had good speed in our backup cars, so I’ve been really happy with that. I don’t want to race backup cars, so I just have to stop crashing.”
If Larson can stay out of the ARMCO at the Watkins Glen International road course this weekend, then he will have a shot. He was strong in Sonoma back in June and was sixth in this very race last year. The key is not crashing. He’s currently +37 in the playoff standings with five races remaining.