Kyle Larson had a strong run derailed by a pit road speeding penalty in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Larson won a stage and had his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at the front of the field for a race-high 142 laps. But a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 224 proved to be his undoing and he was not able to come back for anything more than a 12th-place finish.
“I had a good day going until I sped,” Larson said. “My car handled really good and once I got where I had to restart in the back, I was really, really tight. Clean air is even more important nowadays than in the past, I think, especially at a track like this”
Larson was using his traditional high line around the track but also made the low groove work when he needed to make a move. But it was all for naught when the penalty mired him back in the field and he was not able to make up ground late.
“Just really upset with myself for making a mistake,” Larson said. “I knew it was going to be close, I saw some reds (lights) on my dash, and you hope they don’t say anything. Just not my day.”
Larson was generally pleased with the first iteration of the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rules package but acknowledged the difficulty in getting around cars in dirty air. That challenge ultimately stopped him from making a charge late to get back in the lead pack.
“…the car handled really well until we got put in traffic there, but even the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) seemed to struggle trying to get back to the front,” Larson said of Busch who had to start from the rear of the field in a back-up car.
“Yeah, dirty air was much worse than I thought it was. I spent most of the day up front, so once I got back there it was pretty crazy.”