By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into February’s running of the Daytona 500.
Years in Cup: Seven
Career Wins: Six
Late last season, Kyle Larson was looking down the barrel of a 75-race winless streak, with his hopes of advancing on in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Then came the October 6 race at Dover International Speedway.
From the start of the race weekend at the one-mile concrete oval, Larson was on rails, qualifying on the outside front row and subsequently leading 154 laps en route to his first win of the season and a ticket into the Round of 8 in the Playoffs – the furthest he or Chip Ganassi Racing had ever made it in NASCAR’s postseason.
Larson would finish the season ranked sixth in points, racking up eight top-five finishes, 17 top-10 finishes, and one pole to go along with his Dover win. Despite falling short of being able to compete for the championship, Larson and his No. 42 team were at least able to get things pointed in the right direction heading into 2020.
Add in Larson’s offseason success of finally capturing a win in the Chili Bowl and the 27-year old could be in for a banner season ahead, especially with his team from 2019 intact and veteran Kurt Busch back as a teammate in Ganassi’s second car.
“I’m excited about getting the NASCAR season started back up,” Larson said. “I felt like just before the midpoint of last season we got really good – Kurt (Busch) and I both. There was probably a month straight where I felt either Kurt or I had the fastest car each week.
“We had a good run in the playoffs and I finished sixth in points. He had some bad luck throughout his playoffs but he had a good season overall.”
Larson noted that the only issues that could hamper his team in 2020 could be with the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE that makes its debut at Daytona after being updated over the offseason.
“We don’t have any track time with (the new Chevy) but everything I’ve heard about it at the shop, it’s better than what we had,” he said. “I’m sure there will be some growing pains throughout the early part of the season.
“Hopefully we don’t (have any) but I’m not going to get upset if there is because we do have a new body style and there will be things we have to learn on the fly. Everybody seems to be pretty confident about it, so that makes me excited.”