Kyle Larson hasn’t grabbed a checkered flag in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in over two years, something you might figure would be uppermost on his mind. In fact, though, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver says he has bigger issues to focus on, now that the playoffs are under way.
“It doesn’t kill me that I haven’t won in two years … because I’m just looking at a championship, really, right now,” Larson said at Richmond. “Once you get in the playoffs, you’re just trying to be consistent and not make mistakes where, during the regular season, you’ve got those races where you’re battling for a win — you can go all-out, and it’s kind of win-it-or-wear-it.
“In the playoffs, you can’t really be win-it-or-wear-it. You’ve got to take your second or third place if you’ve got a shot where before, like I said, you could go all-out, and if you mess up, oh well; you can chip away at it in the next few weeks.”
Despite being winless, Larson qualified for the postseason. But, like any team, the No. 42 bunch is still working to clean up some areas which has been the theme of their year. Mistakes and bad luck plagued Larson, and, for a while, it was a battle just to complete a clean race and earn points.
Even at eighth on the playoff grid, Larson said execution is priority number one — especially if he was going to break the winless streak.
“Whether it’s just making sure when you’re the leader on restarts [and] winning those restarts, or when you come down late in a race have a good pit stop, make the right adjustments — just everything needs to be cleaned up still,” said Larson. “I feel like we cleaned up a lot of areas this year, but we still have room (for more).”
Ironically, the site of Larson’s last win is where the series runs tonight. Since Larson considers Richmond Raceway one of his worst tracks, he seems surprised to be able to say he has a Cup Series win at the facility.
The amount of time that has passed since that September night in 2017 sounds a lot longer than it seems to Larson.
“I feel like I’ve been close (to winning) and have just fallen short of a few,” he said. “Definitely, lately, I feel like we’re really close to winning, so hopefully, it comes soon, and we can end that drought.”
Larson qualified 13th for the second race of the playoffs.