Kyle Larson didn’t have the best day at Talladega Superspeedway but repeatedly said it could have been worse.
Larson was credited with a 37th-place finish in the postponed and then rain-shortened YellaWood 500 on Monday. Collected in a crash on lap 56, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Cliff Daniels tried to salvage what they could with a damaged race car. Larson fell a lap down on pit road when he hit the ECU switch and killed the engine, then blew a tire on lap 67 to further mangle his Chevrolet.
“It could have been worse,” Larson said. “It could have been worse, though. “I haven’t seen the point total yet, but it seems like a lot of us are around the same spot. I think at times it looked worse, so like I said, it could have been worse.”
Larson had nowhere to go and didn’t see Justin Allgaier coming when Allgaier was spun off the bumper of William Byron. Sent to the right through the tri-oval, Allgaier slammed into the side of Larson’s car.
“Had not time to react; it’s just part of this racing when you are not situated in good track position and just got collected there,” Larson said. “A bit of a bummer, but it could have been worse today.”
The No. 5 team was put on the damaged vehicle policy, and Larson made multiple pit stops for repairs. Larson had to turn the car off while sitting on pit road so the team could go under the hood to make repairs and adjustments, and it was then that Larson hit the ECU switch. While it’s easy to do, Larson hadn’t had that happen before and didn’t think to look for the switch, and the team had to tell him to check it as the problem of not being able to re-fire the car.
After staying under the DVP clock, Larson met minimum speed to stay in the race only to have the right-front tire blow moments later. He fell multiple laps down, but the team, led by a calm Daniels, continued to repair the car to keep Larson on track.
“It helps keep me a little bit calm, and just kind of keeping you aware helps,” Larson said of Daniels. “I screwed up where we could have been two less laps down and gotten a couple more positions. Somehow I hit the ECU switch when I shut the engine off to allow the guys to work on the front end. And then, I couldn’t get it re-fired, so we went down a lap. And then I lost the draft and ended up losing another lap. I cost myself a couple more positions, but it is what it is.”
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“I thought it was over, but it couldn’t have gone much better,” Larson continued. “Once I had to meet minim speed, I blew a tire coming to the start/finish line, and met minimum speed (again) and had enough debris on the track that we caught a caution. As bad as the day was, it could have been worse, and we could have been a couple of positions worse than we were.”
The reason it wasn’t as bad as it sounds is that Larson has security. His strong regular-season season of five wins and then a sixth in the first round of the postseason give Larson points to fall back on. Larson goes into the elimination race at Charlotte above the cutline by 22 points.
“At least I’m the highest up of guys who are still looking to make in on points,” Larson said. “Not too comforting, but hopefully we’ll go there and have a good day, get some stage points, and get on to the next round.”