MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 2, 2018
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed testing at Vegas in January, his thoughts on the importance of the West Coast swing and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR TEAM PLANS TO APPROACH THIS WEEKEND AND WHAT YOUR HOPES ARE COME SUNDAY:
“We had a good run here last year. I think we finished second in both races, Xfinity and Cup, which is better than I typically had run at Vegas. So, I was happy about that, but we were pretty good most everywhere last year. We tested here a couple of weeks before Daytona and were really fast. That was our first time with the new Camaro ZL1, so was happy about that. I’m sure we are back here with about the same set-up as we ended the test with. We had a good run there. Yeah, just kind of wait and see how it goes. Excited about it. Atlanta is a unique 1.5-mile. You get somewhat of an idea of who is fast, but I feel like once you get here and through the rest of the West Coast swing you get a really good sense of who is going to be good all year long.”
ARE YOU MORE CONFIDENT THAN YOU WOULD BE COMING INTO A NORMAL WEEKEND BASED ON WHAT YOU EXPERIENCED AT THE TEST?
“Yeah, probably. Just thinking back to last year, we really had no idea we were going to be as fast as we were. Where this year, after having the test and after having the year we had last year that really helps your confidence. We know coming here this weekend that we will be fast or should hopefully be fast, but you still have to execute. Yeah, we had a really good test. We made the car better throughout the two days. Our race trim runs were really good and then our mock qualifying run we made there at the end was fast as well. We will stick to qualifying trim all day today, which is nice. You know you are going to have a good balance in race trim, so you can just work on qualifying trim today and try and qualify as good as you can for later tonight. Excited to get on track and hopefully it all feels the same. A lot of times when you test though for some reason it can feel totally different when you come back for the race just a few weeks later. Hopefully, that is not the case today and we have a good balance and can be strong all weekend.”
IT’S WINDY HERE THIS WEEKEND. HOW DOES THAT EFFECT THINGS?
“I don’t know. I always feel like you ask the guys who have 15 years or more experience and they can feel a two-mph wind, but us young racers, I feel like the wind doesn’t bother us as much. I remember when that huge wind storm, dust storm, whatever, rolled through here a couple of years ago. I couldn’t really tell a difference in balance or what. So, I don’t know, I would like to say it doesn’t matter, but maybe if I go out there and my car is struggling, I will just blame it on the wind. It seems like all the older guys can pinpoint the wind direction a lot more than us.”
YOU WON FROM THE POLE AT FONTANA LAST TIME DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE DIALED INTO THAT TRACK AND IF SO, WHY?
“I don’t know, I think last year we were for the point in the season everybody is still working on their stuff a good bit, but we were really good at Fontana last year. We were able to get the pole and lead the most laps, I think, and win the race. Hopefully, we can do that again this year and do it even more often than we did last year. Fontana is always a fun racetrack. I ran second there my first year and then kind of struggled the next two or three years, whatever it was and then finally won last year. I think it just kind of matters with how good your car is.”
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT MOST OF THE TEAMS WILL BE DIALED-IN AFTER THE WEST COAST SWING?
“I don’t necessarily think dialed-in, but everybody can kind of get an idea of who is going to be your top 10 cars roughly throughout the next handful of months. It seems like, you know last year, myself and the No. 78 after the West Coast swing everybody pointed to us as being the two best cars and it kind of stayed that way the rest of the year. I think that is where you can kind of get your idea of who is the best car or who is the best team or the best few teams. I don’t know, Daytona you don’t get a good idea because it’s a superspeedway and then Atlanta you get somewhat of an idea, but it’s a little different because the track is so worn out and the driving style is different, the set-ups are a little different and then you get to Vegas and Phoenix and Fontana, tracks that have good grip and you can use your downforce. That is where you can figure out who is good.”
DO YOU KNOW TONI BREIDINGER SHE IS USAC’S ALL-TIME WINNINGEST FEMALE DRIVER? SHE IS GOING TO RUN SOME ARCA RACES THIS YEAR. ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH HER?
“No, I don’t know her. I did see some headline this morning that said she was running a few ARCA races. But, yeah, that’s cool it’s neat to see anybody come out of stuff that I grew up doing, USAC (United States Auto Club) stuff. I want to say maybe she did like Ford Focus stuff. I don’t think she ever ran really many USAC national races. Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve never raced with her and I’ve ran some USAC stuff. Hopefully, she can be good and get some more opportunities along the way.”
THIS CAR IS SO NEW AND THERE IS SO MUCH YOU GUYS, I GUESS, DON’T REALLY KNOW ABOUT IT. WHEN YOU GO OUT IN PRACTICE AND YOU ARE NOT AT THE SPEED THAT YOU WANT TO BE, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHERE TO GO FIRST WITH THE CAR?
“That is a better question for the crew chief, but it’s just a different body. It’s the same chassis, same components, everything. We have a nice notebook of stuff from when we had the (Chevy) SS. So far it hasn’t driven any different to me. It hasn’t felt any different. All the visual stuff inside the cockpit, side windows, all that it’s the same or it looks different on the outside, but nothing seems different yet for me. I felt like Atlanta, I know we finished second there last year and finished ninth there last weekend, but I finished a few spots better than what I should have last year and finished a couple of spots worse than I should have this year. I felt like maybe speed wise we were one spot to two spots off of where we were last year at Atlanta. But, yeah, I’m sure we will struggle at times with the new car, but it wouldn’t be any different than what we struggled with, with the (Chevy) SS.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY SUPERSTITIONS?
“I used to be really superstitious growing up racing and then once I got to stock cars I kind of realized that a lot of it’s out of your hands. The superstition stuff kind of goes away some. If I have a few good weeks in a row that is when you can kind of get a routine that you did the week before when you ran well and you carry it over to the next week. Other than that, nothing crazy, no lucky socks or shirts or anything like I used to have.”
CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW YOU CAN JUST GET IN THE CAR AND LAY DOWN A FAST LAP?
“It’s tough. Typically, in my career we always start in race trim, which I like because you do get that rhythm and you feel the track, feel your car and then when you switch to qualifying trim you already have an idea of how far you can push it and all that. Starting in qualifying trim, I always feel like when I have done that your first lap is 80 percent maybe to it’s potential. You might underdrive the corner or overdrive the corner, turn in the corner too soon. You are not and I wouldn’t even think even Jimmie Johnson who does it all the time, starts in qualifying trim, I’m sure his first run is a little off of what its potential could be. If we had enough tires I would obviously prefer to start in race trim just to get your rhythm with the allotment of tires it seems better or you can use your tires more wisely if you start in qualifying trim for tomorrow’s practices and stuff with Happy Hour and have more sticker sets to work on your race set-up. That is why we are starting in qualifying trim. It is difficult. You never nail your lap the first lap out. It’s hard to commit. It’s nice that we tested here a month ago and I have an idea of where I’m going to run, how much throttle input and stuff like that.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS RACE NOW THAT WE COME BACK HERE A SECOND TIME AND IT’S THE FIRST RACE OF THE PLAYOFFS?
“I think anytime you race at a track whether it’s cool or hot it relates. I mean there is definitely some added importance to this race with it being in the Playoffs. I mean hopefully we have a strong race and if not, you know what you need to go back and work on to be better when you come back later in the year to benefit your Playoff run. Not that this race when it was just a stand-alone event or one race wasn’t important, but anytime you can race at a track that you are going to come back at in the final 10 it’s got some added importance to it.”