Add another runner-up finish to the tally for Kyle Larson and his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team.
After finishing second in three of the previous four races entering Sunday’s Camping World 500 at Phoenix, Larson finished as the runner-up once again for the third week in a row with another strong performance in the Valley of the Sun to come away as the points leader
Starting the day in fourth place, Larson ran inside the top-10 for the majority of the day, even taking over the lead on three different occasions for three laps led. With the laps winding down, it looked as if he wouldn’t have a shot at the win with Kyle Busch setting sail up front with a commanding lead.
However, when Joey Logano had his tire issue that sent him into the wall to bring out the caution with six laps to go, Larson and the rest of the field had their chance to try and take away the win from Busch in overtime.
On the ensuing final restart, Larson charged down into Turn 1 trying to get past Ryan Newman, who had stayed out on his old tires to take over the lead. With Larson on the outside, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. dove low on Larson and the two cars made contact, sending Larson’s car sideways. Though he was able to save it, the contact killed any momentum he had as Newman was able to pull away.
Despite having lost the ground to Newman on the restart, Larson re-gained that ground and then some as he set his sights on trying to overtake Newman on the final lap. However, it was too little, too late as Newman had enough of an advantage to cross the finish line first to win the race, causing Larson to have to settle for second place.
“You know, it was a fun race for us,” said Larson. “We ran no worse than fourth I think all race. Was really happy about that. Challenged for the segment win there the first stage with Joey. That was a lot of fun. Finished second, I think, the second stage, too. Second overall.”
“A solid run for us. Wish we would have been the winners. I thought we were — I knew we were in the best spot. Just, yeah, turned across Ricky’s nose and got sideways, killed both of our runs off of two, and allowed Newman to get out on us.”
Even though Larson has yet to score a win this season, he noted in his post-race press conference that he is not getting down about finishing second almost every week.
“It’s a lot of fun right now,” Larson said. “I’m sure, you know, if I ran second for the next eight weeks, yeah, it’s probably going to grow old. But, yeah, it’s so cool to be one of the fastest cars every week. I feel like I’ve got a shot to win every week at a racetrack like here and Vegas where I don’t normally run good, and challenge for wins. And Daytona, I suck on superspeedways.”
“It’s been a lot of fun to start this year. I just hope we can continue to work hard, be consistent, be mistake-free on pit road and on the racetrack. If we can just keep doing that, the wins are going to come. I could easily have four wins right now. Just got to keep working hard.”