By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Battling a loose racecar and avoiding the late-race mayhem allowed Kyle Larson to fly under the radar at Dover International Speedway. While many on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Grid finished up front in the Gander Outdoors 400, Larson quietly finished the race in 12th.
Larson finished outside the top-10 after struggling throughout the race in his No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. He avoided a late-race melee that involved fellow Playoff Grid drivers Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex, Jr., and Ryan Blaney.
The race was dominated by Almirola and Kevin Harvick. A fast-paced and tame first two stages kept Larson from entering the top-10 to earn stage points.
Larson was unsure as to why his Chip Ganassi Racing team was so far off.
“I’m not sure why we were that bad. It was a little cooler yesterday, but you wouldn’t think that would make us that much different. I don’t know, but yeah, just a really disappointing day. We were really, really bad. I mean there were a lot of times throughout the race where I wanted to give up. But we are going to need a lot of people to have a lot of issues if we want to make it to the next round.”
After the events of Dover International Speedway, Larson is 11th on the Playoff Grid. He now sits 70-points behind Harvick, the championship points leader. Larson is 12 points behind Blaney, who holds the final transfer spot for the Round of Eight.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Larson’s odds are about even with the rest of the field. Among active drivers, he has the 24th-best average finish, 21.33 in nine career starts at the 2.66-Mile restrictor plate track.
Larson is 22nd among drivers in the five most recent races at the track with an average finish of 20.00. Kurt Busch has the best average finish, 9.00. Larson’s driver rating at Talladega is 76.9.
Now Larson, crew chief Chad Johnston, and the entire No. 42 team will look to earn their first victory of the season in the unpredictable event.