Hard fought would be an understatement to describe the day Kyle Larson had in the Auto Club 400.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver finished second at Auto Club Speedway, a race he won last year. But Sunday, he was constantly playing catch-up as various problems plagued his No. 42 team.
Catch-up translates to 117 green-flag passes in a 200-lap race. According to the post-race loop data, Larson led the field in quality passes Sunday afternoon with 63.
“It was a pretty tough race from the start,” said Larson.
Larson started third but ran into his first bout of problems when he was involved in a Lap 39 accident with Kevin Harvick. Fortunately, it left minor damage to his Chevrolet but negated his track position.
“Kevin and I had our issue there down the backstretch just racing hard, side-drafting each other for a few laps,” Larson said. “I think he came down to maybe side-draft me, got in my right rear, it spun him pretty quick. From there on we had to repair a little damage, come from the back. Was able to get to sixth in the first stage in a short amount of time, which was good.”
From there, Larson battled vibration issues and even made an extra pit stop under caution on Lap 123. The team needed to make sure the lug nuts were tight when a broken brake duct became wedged between the wheel.
“Then there late, we had an issue with the left front on one of our pit stops then had to come from the back again maybe that whole last run there,” he said. “It was a good to get all the way to second. Would have liked to be one spot better, but we couldn’t even see Martin [Truex]. Got to be a little better.
“All in all, good day. We fought hard. That’s all you can ask for.”
Larson climbed to second place with 18 laps remaining the race but finished over 11 seconds behind Truex for the win.