Kyle Larson said his Chip Ganassi Racing team talked at length before the Auto Club 400 about the self-inflicted wounds that have hindered them early this season.
“We haven’t had the greatest last three weeks when it comes to execution,” said Larson said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. “So, we just try and learn from it and talk about it, and figure out how to not make that mistake again.”
The frustration began three weeks ago in Atlanta when Larson might have been the class of the field as he led a race-high 142 laps and won Stage 1. But he finished 12th, struggling to make his way back into the top 10 after being penalized for speeding on pit road.
A week later in Las Vegas, the No. 42 was called for having too many crew members over the wall — one of the guys, reaching over the wall, touched the pit box — and Larson again finished 12th.
Last weekend at ISM Raceway, Larson made the top 10 — finishing sixth — but it was at the end of a long day after qualifying a lowly 31st. In the final round of qualifying, he did not make it to the start/finish line before time expired to have his fast lap count.
“I think I only had one speeding penalty all of last year, but then I sped at Atlanta. The pit road penalty we had at Vegas, that call could have gone either way, but it went against us.” said Larson. “And then last week — that was kind of embarrassing in qualifying. We’ve never made that mistake before.
“Yeah, you’ve just got to learn from your mistakes. This series is so tough you have to be perfect all weekend long. Friday to Sunday, you just can’t make mistakes; you’ve got to make all the right decisions.
“Starting 31st last weekend hurt us in the stages. The pit road penalty at Vegas killed our stage points there, too,. We could have a lot more points right now and be right up in the top three or four.
“We’ve just got to clean that stuff up,” Larson added. “I’m confident our team can do that. We’ve shown in the past that we can execute; we’ve just got to clean it up a little bit.”
Larson is sixth in points entering the Auto Club 400 this weekend. He is the 2017 Cup winner at the track and also has two Xfinity series victories there. But he qualified only 15th today and will have some work to do on Sunday afternoon.