By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Rotten luck has been the dreaded theme for Kyle Larson’s 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. In just the last four races alone, three of his days ended due to crashes, including a violent Talladega tumble that knocked him out of the top-20 in points.
Whether it’s his Fox Sports segment with Jeff Gordon that aired during the race or simply having his best performance since leading 142 of 325 laps at Atlanta in late February, Larson’s luck was in his favor and scored his first top-five finish of the season, finishing third in Monday’s Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Larson’s No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was a top-five car all day long after starting from the third starting spot, and finished fourth in sixth in the opening stages.
While he didn’t lead a single lap, Larson’s consistent afternoon paid off as he didn’t face any setbacks and his third-place finish marked his first top-five since Phoenix last November, where he also finished third.
The Chip Ganassi Racing veteran described his top-five dominant afternoon as a battle finding proper car handling and clean air that almost could’ve cost him third as Kevin Harvick was hot on his tails in the closing laps.
“We fought tight early-on, with our Credit One Bank Chevy, but we freed it up and got it to where I felt like I was pretty good,” said Larson. “And in the last run there, after cycling through green-flag stops, I was really loose and got stuck in traffic and then was just looser in the dirty air. So, I had to just make sure I hit the bottom lap after lap to hold Harvick off. So, it was good to finally have a clean race.”
Furthermore, Larson’s maiden top-five of 2019 moved him from 21st to back into the playoffs in 15th, only six points ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon, who are tied in 17th and the first guys out of the playoffs after 11 races.
“I don’t think we’ve had a clean weekend all year long. And we’re 11 weeks into the season,” Larson on his luck. “So, it’s good to finally get a clean day, like I said, and thanks to our race team. Our pit crew did a good job today as well. It was a nice day.”
The 12th stop of the Cup Series tour hits one Larson’s strongest tracks, Kansas Speedway which is the sight of the Digital Ally 400 May 11. In 10 previous starts, Larson has three top-fives, including both races last season. Notably, the spring race where he finished fourth after leading 101 laps.