Kyle Larson continues to pursue his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has run well at the .533-mile short track during the course of his NASCAR career including a thrilling Xfinity Series win. But in eight career Cup starts, Larson has only compiled an average finish of 18.0 with a high water mark his sixth place Food City 500 run a year ago.
“I don’t know,” Larson said Friday at Bristol when asked what it will take for him to finally win in “Thunder Valley.” “I think we or I and our team have to get better when the track kind of changes from the first half of the race into the second half. It seems like every time I’ve been here, whether it’s Xfinity or Cup I can pretty much dominate the first half and then I guess I come back to everybody else.
“And it seems like I always make mistakes on pit road and stuff like that. Just got to clean it all up and that will give me a better shot at getting a win here. And then you’ve got to get somewhat lucky being in the outside lane to restart. But, yeah, Bristol is my favorite track and I always get excited to come here, so really looking forward to the weekend.”
Larson comes to Bristol after a particularly frustrating at Texas a week ago. The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 started with Larson relegated to the final spot on the grid after his car failed inspection three times. It ended with a cut tire and trip into the wall, which Larson said was the hardest hit of his life.
“Initially right after, I got my left elbow on my seat on the carbon and then my right shoulder,” Larson explained about the aftermath of the crash. “I think I kind of fell into the padding there went I hit the wall. My neck was just a little bit stiff, not too bad. The second day was probably a little bit worse, but it could have been way worse.
“Thankful that there are SAFER barriers and our team builds safe race cars. But, yeah, one of my harder hits for sure. I think we turn like 44 or 45 g’s (g-forces) with the hit, which is I think numbers wise my biggest hit. I felt like Fontana a couple of years ago hurt worse. I hit more head-on, but yeah, they all hurt.”
He’s hoping for the best tonic a race car driver can find after a rough outing like the one Larson had last week with a strong performance in Sunday’s Food City 500. He knows it will be a challenge but embraces the opportunity.
“Yeah and that makes it fun,” he said after watching a tape of last year’s race “You don’t really have any time to relax. Like I said, lap traffic it’s so much fun here and you catch it in 15 laps or whatever. Then you are just carving through it. You just catch a guy and you go to wherever they are not. It’s fun to have options like that.
“Yeah, I was watching the race back and I just, I guess I’ve been saying it a lot, but I just get really excited about this place because it kind of races like a dirt track and it’s a lot of fun.”