Chip Ganassi Racing did some “big time learning” at ISM Raceway, according to team owner Chip Ganassi.
Responding to a tweet from CGR partner Rob Kauffman after the checkered flag, Ganassi said as much after his two drivers, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, finished 18th and 26th, respectively. It was a disappointing ending to a day that had been going so well, so early on.
Yes we did some big time learning today @ISMRaceway.
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) March 12, 2018
The duo had been fastest in the opening practice session on Friday, with Larson qualifying on the outside of the front row. McMurray lined up eighth.
The No.42 was the class of the field during the first stage, rocking past Martin Truex Jr. from both the inside and outside lanes on restarts. By the conclusion of the first 75 laps, Larson had led for 54 laps.
But in the second stage, Larson went for a spin in Turn 4. Before doing so, he had been complaining that the rear tires were shaking.
“It definitely wasn’t a tire going down,” said Larson. “We’ve had, all weekend, like a wheel hop, tire chatter, some issues like that. It’s hard to kind of tell what it is. I feel like it just starts as soon as I get to the brakes and turn the wheel and then I just start wheel hopping.
“I fought it all day yesterday and was hoping that we could fix it. We still had the issue in the race. It was fairly annoying having the tires bounce around underneath you, but hopefully, we’ll figure it out what was going on all weekend with our setup and come back later in the year better.”
Larson was never a factor after the spin. As for McMurray, he failed to earn points in the first two stages but had an average running position of 14.04 with appearances inside the top 10. In the third stage, it all unraveled for McMurray – who was making his 550th series start – when he had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a vibration.
Going into next week’s race at Auto Club Speedway, Larson is the defending winner. McMurray is still searching for his first top-10 finish of the season.