Chevy Racing–Tuesday Teleconference–Kyle Larson



JENNIE LONG: We’re joined by Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kyle, thanks for joining us.

KYLE LARSON: Hey, no problem.

JENNIE LONG: You’ve scored three top‑three finishes in your last four starts, including a runner‑up finish last week at Kansas Speedway. With the Chase battle heating up and so many drivers hungry for wins, what’s it going to take for you to make it to victory lane before the end of the season?

KYLE LARSON: I don’t know, we’ve just got to maybe get a little bit better and I probably have to do a better job, also. We’ve been really close, like you said, in the Chase. It’s been good to see the speed we’ve had in our Target Chevy. Just got to keep working hard, and hopefully we can pull one of these off. We’ve been close, and Charlotte should be a good track for me, so hopefully we can go there and have a good run.

JENNIE LONG: The 11th annual Drive For Diversity combine is set to take place next week at Langley Speedway. Can you talk about how the combine and the Drive For Diversity program helped to get you where you are today in the sport?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, the combine is pretty fun. I went there I think when Bubba Wallace and Sergio Peña and stuff had been running their East program, so it was exciting to go there and try and see how you stacked up against them. And then the Drive For Diversity program was good because it helped me get into the K&N East Series and get on racetracks kind of that I’d got to run last year in Nationwide. I was already with Chip Ganassi Racing before I got with the Diversity program, so really that just helped me gain experience on the racetrack a little bit but more so I thought off the track because the Diversity program gets a lot of recognition, and we would go do sponsor appearances and things like that, and I was also part of the NASCAR Next program that year. It got my name out more doing that, too. I’d say it helped out a lot with the off‑track stuff more than anything.
Q. I wanted to ask you a little bit, this team that you’re on has had kind of sporadic success over the years and things, but what you’re doing right now and the run you’re on right now is kind of new, and I would imagine pretty exciting. What’s the atmosphere like for your team right now, and what about the confidence boost that your crew is feeling and things like that? If you could just talk in general ways like that.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I think we’ve been having a lot of fun as a team lately. You can tell everybody is pretty relaxed because we’ve been running well. Yeah, I mean, we’re all focused, and we see how close we are, and it makes everybody in the shop work even harder to just find that extra little bit.

I’m loving the way the team is working together right now. I just think we’re in a great spot, and we’re only going to get better. Just got to keep the atmosphere good in the shop and with the team and everything, and I think that’ll also help make the cars go faster.
Q. Just as a follow‑up, I think I know the answer, but are you leaving these racetracks feeling good or frustrated?
KYLE LARSON: No, I’m definitely leaving them feeling good. Yeah, it is a little bit frustrating to come that close and not get wins, but it’s also nice to see yourself running in the top three with everybody that’s in the Cup field. It’s amazingly tough. It’s really exciting but a little bit frustrating at the same time, but I still definitely leave in a good mood. It would be kind of weird to leave the racetrack in a bad mood for finishing second.
Q. I know Jeff Gordon has had a lot of compliments for you. I’m just wondering, have some of the other drivers, more experienced guys, have they been helpful to you? How is that going for you this year?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, as far as help with driving and I guess really anything, I kind of lean on my teammate McMurray the most for all that stuff. But yeah, I’m not the type to go out and ask for advice and things like that or walk through the garage and ask other drivers for advice. When me and Jamie are just sitting in the trailer or something, I’ll talk to him quite a bit and pick his brain a little bit if I’m struggling and things like that, and he does the same with me. He’ll ask me for advice, I guess. But yeah, we have a great relationship as teammates, so I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit.
Q. I think at the end of the race at Kansas, didn’t Kyle Busch come up to your car? Can you tell us what he said to you?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, he just said, good job, and he said the wins are coming. I just have to stay patient and keep doing a good job, and hopefully those wins will come.
Q. When you started the year racing in Rolex in January, seems like a long time ago, but did your 2014 expectations include hurdling so many learning curves and doing so well in Sprint Cup, as well?
KYLE LARSON: I mean, I kind of set out as a goal to be a top 15 car all season, and I noticed right from the start of the season we’d be a top 10 car most races. I changed the goals a little bit to run top 10 every race, and now the way things are going, you want to be top 5. The goals have definitely changed a little bit throughout the year, and that’s always a good thing when you’re raising your expectations.

Like I’ve said before, we’ve just got to keep working hard, and hopefully those top 5s will turn into wins.
Q. How does it make you feel that so many people out there, fans, expect you to win?
KYLE LARSON: It feels great. I get asked the question every week if this is the weekend you’re going to get the win, and I don’t know the answer to that ever, but I hope the win is coming soon.
Q. With all the people talking, as you say, that say, hey, the wins are coming, and Kyle Busch coming up to you after the race and saying the wins are coming, and the fans saying, hey, when are you going to get that victory, how much pressure do you put on yourself, if any, or do you feel like you’re under more pressure or more of a microscope to get that first win, and how relieved will you feel when it finally comes?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don’t add any pressure on myself. I really don’t even pay attention to any pressure, so I think that’s a really good quality as a race car driver to kind of put that in the back of your head. Yeah, I mean, I’ll be really relieved whenever that first win does come. I hope it comes sooner rather than later. But yeah, I definitely feel like we’re capable of winning a race or two before the end of the year, and just getting that first one out of the way will be awesome. Just seeing how close we’ve been a lot of the time this year is going to make that win feel really good. Just got to stick with it.
Q. And as a follow‑up to that, with the way you have been running, regardless if you’re able to pick up a victory in the remaining races or not, how much confidence does it give you and the team heading into next season with the way you’ve been running over the last month or so?
KYLE LARSON: Oh, yeah, we’ll definitely carry the confidence into next season. The rules will be a little bit different, but that confidence will still be there. I think that’s always a good thing to have going into a fresh year is having confidence before the season ever starts.

Just got to finish this year out even stronger than what we’re running and hopefully fire off next year and get a couple wins.
Q. Obviously now that you believe that you have a shot at winning any given week, after what race this year would you say that your confidence built enough for you to be able to begin to hold that thought?
KYLE LARSON: Which race I think I’ll get my first win at? I think any mile‑and‑a‑half that’s left in the schedule, so Charlotte, Texas or Homestead probably are the three where I’ll have the best shot. I hope I can get a win at any of these next coming tracks, but I’d say those are the highest chances for me to win. I’ll go into those races with extra confidence and hopefully get it done. Hopefully I can close one of these races out.
Q. Which race was it this year where you began to feel confident enough where you began to think that you could win any week?
KYLE LARSON: Which race? I don’t know, maybe the first Pocono race or so, Michigan maybe. Yeah, Michigan I’d say ‑‑ the first Michigan probably, I felt like we had a good shot to win that race had I not sped on pit road. I think we would have finished at worst second and probably would have won. Just mistakes like that kind of cost you, but from the midpoint of the season, maybe a little bit before the middle of the season, I thought we could get a win. It’s been nice. I’ve been going really well lately. I’ve enjoyed it.

JENNIE LONG: Thanks for joining us this afternoon, and good luck this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

KYLE LARSON: Thank you, and I forgot to mention one thing, that this weekend I’ve got a special Make‑a‑Wish paint scheme on the car, and I’ll be in victory lane I think Friday at 1:55 to grant a kid’s wish, so that should be pretty cool, and you guys can come out and we’ll have more media availability then. Excited about that.

JENNIE LONG: Thanks for the heads up. Thank you to the media for joining us.