Larson didn’t have long run pace on Sunday to win at Homestead, what he said on his race

HOMESTEAD, Fla — We’ve always said, if Kyle Larson could ever get to the Championship 4 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway then just go ahead and give him the trophy. Well, the final round isn’t at Homestead anymore. Now, Larson has equal grounding as everyone else.

He entered Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 as one of the favorites despite not racing here since 2019. See, Larson has been so dominant on this 1.5-mile track in the past. He had three top five finishes in his last five starts there including leading 132 laps in a runner-up effort in 2016, 145 more in a third place run in 2017 and 45 laps in 2018. He’s never finished past third in any stage at Homestead either.

It’s just that he typically gets out of the way in the end for Championship 4 drivers. Now that he could race hard all race, how would he fare?

He charged hard early and finished sixth in the first stage. He moved up one spot to fifth by the end of Stage 2. Larson, would lead five of the 267 laps en route to a fourth place result in his No. 5 Chevrolet for his fourth top five in his last six tries on the 1.5-mile track.

HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 28: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 NationsGuard Chevrolet, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Dent Wizard Ford, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 28, 2021 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The primary reason as to why he wasn’t as much of a factor like most thought he would be was that his car just wasn’t good on long green flag runs. We only had one caution in the final stage with most of the race running with longer runs. 

“It got pretty intense there at the end,” said Larson. “I was just trying to take care of my tires and was just struggling on the long runs. We were loose for a majority of the race and in that last run, we actually got kind of tight. But I felt like being tight was better for my long runs than loose, just because I could be a little more confident.”

Larson had a shot at second in the end, but just fell short by virtue of the cars in front being just a bit better.

“I would have liked to finish second, but those guys were better than me in the end and I just couldn’t hold them off,” he continued. “I hate that I gave up those spots. But it was a good day for the NationsGuard Chevy team. Congrats to William Byron. It’s really cool for William to get a win this early in the year. Hats off to their team and hopefully we can get it done soon.”

Larson, heads to Vegas to where he has five top 10’s over his last six starts including three of which being in the top three. 

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