Larson Busts Slump
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on July 13, 2014 | 7:02 P.M. EST
Kyle Larson scored his best finish Sunday since placing second at Auto Club Speedway earlier this season. (Photo: Getty Images)
LOUDON, N.H. - Kyle Larson was due for better luck and got it Sunday with a pit gamble that helped him finish third at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Larson needed a good run after he failed to finish in the top 25 in the last three races because of mechanical issues and accidents. It dropped him from eight to 17th in the points and fall out of a possible Chase spot.
Early in Sunday’s race, though, Larson struggled for track position. He was 16th when a caution slowed the race on Lap 113. Crew chief Chris Heroy had Larson remain on the track - the only driver not to pit during that caution. That allowed Larson to restart first.
“Made some pretty ballsy calls to get me in the lead and then, surprised me we stayed out front because we had a lot of laps on our tires at that point,’’ Larson said.
He remained in the top 10 for most of the race after that, giving him the track position he needed.
Larson’s luck improved when Jeff Gordon ran out of fuel before the final restart. That allowed Larson to move to sixth and restart on the outside, the preferred lane. He used that advantage to gain three spots in the final two laps.
“If I would've been on the inside (lane), I probably would've gone backwards,’’ Larson said.
For the first time in a month, Larson had reason to feel good about his race. Power steering issues slowed him at Sonoma and led to a 28th-place finish. A blown tire and crash caused him to finish 40th at Kentucky, and he was collected in a crash at Daytona, placing 36th.
“It really had us scratch our heads and praying to get some good finishes again, and now hopefully we've turned it around and can start getting some consistent finishes again,’’ Larson said.
His finish moves him to 14th in the standings, which would give him the final Chase transfer spot at this point.
Sunday’s run starts what could be a strong stretch for Larson. After the upcoming off-weekend, the series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a place Chip Ganassi Racing has had strong cars. With the Hendrick Motorsports engines powerful on the big tracks, Larson could be a factor there. Then, the series returns to Pocono the following week. Larson placed fifth there.
Those are the possibilities he faces and they looked brighter after his eighth top-10 of the season.