DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — For the second consecutive year, Kyle Larson will start on the front row for the Daytona 500. That however, isn’t a great trend to have anymore.
While the front row is more about bragging rights here, starting up front in Daytona doesn’t mean jack in terms of where you’ll finish. The last time a pole winner won here?
Larson found out the hard way last season. He scored a pole but finished 32nd. This time around, he’ll roll off second in his No. 5 Chevrolet. The problem is with that, the last time the Great American Race was won by the second placed starter?
The last time that they’ve even had a top 5?
That’s something Larson just dreams of doing. He’s not usually a top five contender on superspeedways in general and admits it’s no longer about bad luck. It’s him.
Larson has never won a superspeedway race and has just 1 top 5 in 35 starts on them at that. He was 32nd and 37th at Daytona last year.
“I don’t know, I mean, you always study before every race,” Larson said of studying tape between now and Sunday and trying to figure out how to be better here on race day. “I don’t know. We do it every week. We go over every race. Same as for Daytona and Talladega both, we go and try to probably dive deeper than normal. More of the same tomorrow.
“But I would like to kind of see how the good guys set themselves up throughout a run to be up towards the front or wherever they need to be to miss wrecks and stuff.
“It’s just a difficult style of racing that, I don’t know, I just haven’t had the best of time in my career. I used to always say it’s bad luck, but I don’t necessarily feel that way any more.
“Yeah, just try to, as you do with every racetrack, just get better.”
He’d like to also change Hendrick Motorsports’ misfortunes too.
HMS has actually won five straight poles in general at Daytona and 13 in the last 17 tries on the high banked 2.5-mile Florida superspeedway. The only 4 poles that they didn’t win was Greg Biffle (July 2016), Joey Logano (July 2019), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (February 2020) and Kevin Harvick (Aug. 2020). However, 2 of the 4 weren’t won on speed. Logano’s pole in 2019 was on points. Same for Harvick in 2020 as we didn’t qualify that year.
“Yeah, I don’t know. I’m new, pretty new, to Hendrick still. I don’t obviously get involved in car stuff.
“Yeah, they’ve got something figured out for sure,” said Larson. “I mean, there’s other teams outside of Hendrick Motorsports that use Hendrick engines. The cars are more similar these days, where they’re not kind of hand-built in the shop.
“There’s obviously tricks and stuff that they’ve learned along the way that still apply to I’m assuming these cars. It’s pretty neat. It’s pretty cool to see the success that they’ve had on qualifying day.
“Rick gets really excited about that. I know he’d be even more excited if one of the four of us could end up in Victory Lane on Sunday.”
In saying that, they failed to win with having just 1 win in the last 13 Daytona races now. Elliott led the most laps (31) last August, but none of them even scored a top 10 that day.
Can they turn their fortunes around on Sunday?
Jeff Gordon said that they elected to go for more race pace on Sunday and not necessarily for the pole. Still, it didn’t matter. HMS showed up on go fast day.