Four weeks ago, Kyle Larson was putting together a championship season. But after Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver is even more eager to see the offseason.
A blown engine just past the 100-lap mark in the Can-Am 500 sent Larson to the garage and his fourth consecutive DNF. A blown engine at Kansas on Oct. 22 eliminated Larson from the playoffs. The last two weeks, the No. 42 has had early race exits due to crashes.
“I think I was passing a lap car and when I lifted, I heard it start to blow up, Larson said. “I was hoping it wasn’t but by the time I got back to the gas I knew it was done. It’s just unfortunate to have four DNF’s in a row; two from engines and then two from wrecks. It’s a crappy way to end the season.
“I thought I had, by far, the best car here today, so I was really happy about that. The Refresh Your Car! Chevrolet was definitely the best car I’ve had at Phoenix. So, I’m happy about that. I just hate that we don’t really get a shot to race for the win.”
Larson took the lead from Denny Hamlin with 11 laps to go in Stage 1 and picked up the segment win, his seventh stage win of the season. The engine issue occurred while Larson was running inside the top 10.
Chip Ganassi Racing is supplied engines from Hendrick Motorsports. When Larson blew up at Kansas, it was the first blown motor he had experienced as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, which started with the 2014 season.
“It felt exactly like what happened at Kansas, probably a little bit worse. So, I don’t know, it’s unfortunate,” Larson said. “I haven’t blown up an engine since my first two Cup starts in 2013, now I’ve had three this season. It’s a little disappointing and definitely a bad time of year to have that stuff happen.
“Hopefully, we can rebound from it and Hendrick can learn from it to prevent it from happening in the future.”
Larson has four wins this season.