By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Kyle Larson may have not led any laps in Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, but he continued carrying the Chevrolet banner after scoring his third runner-up finish this season.
Larson had a top-10 car throughout the afternoon, finishing eighth in the opening stage, and sixth in the second stage. From there, he gradually moved his way towards the front pack. As the race was less than 10 laps to go, Larson tried outperforming race leader Martin Truex, Jr., but to no avail, and lost momentum after being blocked.
However, Larson countered the move and almost saw an opening, but a loose car denied that possibility.
“Yeah, I actually liked that the 78 (Truex) tried to pull down and block me a little bit because it messed his angle up to the corner,” said Larson on battling Truex. “I knew he would have to slow down a little more on entry and I was hoping I could get close enough to him to get him loose. Which I did, but I also got kind of loose behind him.
“So I just had to tuck back in line on exit and then had to try and fight off the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) behind me. I was just trying to stay lower than them on exit to get them tight.”
Truex went on to score his second victory at the ‘Tricky Triangle,’ while Larson brought his No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 home 2.496 seconds later.
“I am happy we finished second because we were probably a sixth or seventh place car today and to finish better than where you run is always a good thing. I am happy about that,” Larson added. “Our DC Solar Chevy was competitive, but needs to be a little bit better to compete with the 18, the 4, and the 78. They are definitely the class of the field. We are close and we are getting a little bit better, but so are they. So we just have to keep working hard.”
Larson described the team’s progress as he’s the highest points driver from the Chevrolet camp in ninth, but also trying catching up with the three repeat winners after 14 races.
“I felt like my car today was kind of as good as it’s been all year. I feel like the Hendrick (Motorsports) guys have definitely gotten better, as well as RCR (Richard Childress Racing) guys. But I feel like I’ve kind of just been a step behind the 18, the 78 and the 4. I definitely felt like the 4 had the most power down the straightaways today, the little bit I was in front of him there at the end. I felt like even when I get a good exit off of 3, he would close on me a lot, compared to the 18 and the 78 a little bit, but the 4 was definitely really fast.
“But we’ve got to just continue to work hard and, yeah, try and get our cars a little bit better.”
All eyes will now be glued on Larson as he’ll head to his sweet track, Michigan International Speedway for the running of the Firekeepers Casino 400 on June 10.
The Elk Grove, California native looks to join the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Talladega) and Kevin Harvick (ISM Raceway), and win four straight races at a single track.
Despite being the odds-on favorite to win at the 2-mile circuit, Larson hasn’t focused on what’s ahead, but confident he can deliver in the ‘Irish Hills.’
“I hadn’t really thought about Michigan yet. But yeah, I’m excited to go there off of three wins in a row,” said Larson. “Yeah, you know, for whatever reason, we’ve been fast there. We actually weren’t that fast the last one we had, but we were able to have some good restarts at the end. Hopefully we can go and have our car as competitive as it was the first two times and try and get a fourth win.”
Since his most recent win at Richmond Raceway last September, Larson has finished in the top-five nine times, six of which were either second or third.