MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TOYOTA OWNERS 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 20, 2018
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed the race at Bristol last week and finishing second to Kyle Busch, the upcoming race next week in Talladega, his expectations for this weekend at Richmond, the championship picture at this point in the season, the newly-announced package for the All-Star race, intermediate track racking, and more. Full Transcript:
WHAT MAKES RICHMOND RACEWAY UNIQUE AND WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE THIS WEEKEND IN RICHMOND?
“It’s unique. It’s a pretty flat short track. The front stretch is round. You have to take care of your tires quite a bit, which makes it challenging for sure. Typically this hasn’t been a good race track for me, but for whatever reason, the last time we were here we were about a top 3 car all race long. (Martin) Truex was really fast. But, I was a little bit lucky there at the end with a caution to beat him off pit road and get the win. I think that adds a little bit of confidence coming back here; but at the same time, I’ve struggled here in the past. I don’t know if I’ll be as good as I was last time, but I hope so. Even though I’ve struggled in the past I enjoy this track because it is different than what we typically go to.”
“I don’t know. I played with all the tools I had in my car to try to tighten it up. The balance kind of caught me off guard the last run. Other than when the track was wet from rain, I was never that loose. And then I was just really loose that last run. I tried driving easier. Went slower. Tried driving it harder and made more mistakes. So, I don’t really know what I could have done a whole lot different. The bottom was too fast to be able to move up that early in a run to try to make the top go, so I don’t know. His car was a little bit better than mine there at the end.”
WITH AN EYE TOWARD THE ALL-STAR RACE NEXT MONTH, THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT THE CURRENT STATE OF INTERMEDIATE RACING IS. AND WITH THE TIRE COMPOUND STRATEGY USED LAST YEAR, PLATES THIS YEAR, MY QUESTION IS DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANYTHING FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG WITH THAT STYLE OF RACING AND THE PACKAGE RIGHT NOW? AND IF SO, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
“I feel like everybody has been complaining and complaining and complaining about 1.5-mile racing at least since I’ve been in Cup; and I feel like we’ve only made it better but the complaining has gotten worse or more. I don’t know; 1.5-mile racing might not have come across on TV as the most exciting racing that we have, but inside the cockpit I think you could ask most everybody and they would say that our 1.5-mile racing is a lot of fun and exciting and competitive. So, I don’t know why it doesn’t come across that way on TV. But I don’t know. As far as the All-Star package goes, I think that will be a package that comes across as better racing on TV, but it’s going to be extremely easy inside the cockpit. But, I think we’re kind of in the entertainment business, so whatever we can do to make it better on TV; but I don’t think there is anything wrong with the package we have now on 1.5-miles.”
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE CHIP GANASASSI RACING SHORT TRACK PROGRAM? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING INTO TALLADEGA NEXT WEEKEND?
‘I feel like our short track program has become really competitive over the last few years. Aside from Martinsville, I don’t even know if our package is good or bad there; I think I’m just not very good there. But, for us to get a couple two finishes here at Richmond now the last couple of years, at a track that I struggle a lot at, I think says a lot about our short track program. Even Bristol, I think Bristol is my best race track but a few years ago I would just kind of run around eighth to 12th. But now lately, I’ve been able to lead the most laps and get close to wins. So, I feel like our short track program is right up there with our downforce package. I think our intermediate and two-mile stuff is really good. But, you can throw Louden in there as well. We’ve been really strong there with a few top 2 finishes there. I get excited for short tracks even though it doesn’t suit my driving style.”
DID YOU HAVE ANY ISSUE WITH RYAN NEWMAN AND THE WAY HE RACED YOU AT BRISTOL?
“No. I get along with Newman. And line that I run in (turns) 3 and 4 throughout a run is really fast, but I can get myself in trouble if people poke their nose in on me. That’s the second time I’ve gotten spun by running that line, so I think I just need to be a little more cautious. I don’t think he did anything wrong there. It was getting somewhat toward the end of the race. You’re trying to race for lead-lap spots. So, I cut it a little too close, I think, and ran across his front end.”
YOU ARE GOOD FRIENDS WITH RICKY STENHOUSE. HE’S GOING BACK TO TALLADEGA WHERE HE GOT HIS FIRST WIN. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT WIN MEANT TO HIM? ALSO, HOW DO YOU THINK HE IS HANDLING THIS SEASON WHERE HE’S HAD TO GO TO A BUNCH OF BACK-UP CARS?
“Ricky winning there and being pretty dominant on superspeedways last year was really cool to see. And, I feel like it was good for him to get a win because he’s got a ton of talent. You don’t win two Xfinity championships and not have a bunch of talent. And I feel like at times, he kind of gets forgotten out on the track with us, but I think that’s more of an organizational issue than anything. So, it’s been nice to see him and their team get better and better. I don’t remember the last part of the question.”
“Oh, I haven’t really noticed a whole lot of change in his attitude. He’s always really positive for how bad things can be for him and his race team at times, he finds positives in all of it and he’s always trying to figure out how to make himself better or communicate with (Brian) Pattie (crew chief) on how to get their program better. So, I think he does a really good job at finding the positives.”
AT THE START OF THE SEASON IT SEEMED LIKE KEVIN HARVICK WAS GOING TO BE THIS YEAR’S MARTIN TRUEX JR. AND HE WAS THE ONE TO FEAR. AND THEN LATELY, KYLE BUSCH HAS BEEN ON SUCH A RUN, MAYBE HE’S THIS YEAR’S TRUEX JR. DOES EITHER THE NO. 4 (HARVICK) OR THE NO. 18 (BUSCH) THAT SCARES YOU MORE THAN THE OTHER AS FAR AS THE CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE RIGHT NOW?
“I still think the No. 4 car is quite a bit better. I think you can call the No. 18 second-best. But I still feel like the No. 4 is quite a bit better. He had his issues on pit road at Texas, but if he didn’t have that, he was by far the fastest car there. And then at Bristol, you don’t really know how he would have been if he was in his primary car. He could have been up there. I guess his teammates were in back-up cars as well or had to fix damage at some point. But, I still think Harvick is really fast. I think Kyle is really good at executing, which has helped him win the last couple of races and really run in the top 3 for as long as he has now. But yeah, as far as pure speed, I think the No. 4 has everybody covered.”
CAN YOU COMPARE YOUR SEASON AT THIS POINT THIS YEAR TO LAST YEAR? DO YOU FEEL YOU’RE UP TO SPEED WITH THE CAMARO OR DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO GET BETTER AT IT AS THE SUMMER GOES ON AND YOU GO BACK TO TRACKS IN THE FALL?
“I feel like speed-wise, we’re close to where we were at this point last year. But I feel like other teams are better than where they were at this point last year. So maybe that’s why we’re back a couple of positions in the running order throughout the race. So yeah, I feel like we’re gotten off to a really good start with the new body and all that. It’s early in the year and we’re going to continue to get better and better every week. We’ve continued to bring better race cars to the race track every week, so that’s good. So we’ve just got to keep working hard and I think we can get to the point of being the fastest car on the race track every weekend. I think we’ve proved last week that we were the fastest car. We didn’t get the win so we have to keep working on that and move it to other race tracks so we can be really fast.”
WERE YOU MAD LAST WEEK WHEN YOU LOST? DO YOU GET MAD AT SOMETHING LIKE THAT OR DO YOU JUST TRY TO FUEL THAT ENERGY INTO SOMETHING THAT’S GOING TO PROPEL YOU IN THE FUTURE? WHAT WERE YOUR EMOTIONS?
“Oh, I was really, really happy to run second to Kyle Busch and get beat in the final six laps. I love getting beat by Kyle Busch at Bristol (sarcastic response).
“Yeah, I was mad. That’s as close as I’ve come to winning a Cup race at Bristol. I don’t want to compare Bristol to any other races because that seems to get me in trouble when I compare races to races. But, I want to win extremely bad at Bristol. So, yeah, that one stung probably more than any Cup win I can kind of think of at this point. Every single time I race at Bristol, I go head-to-head with Kyle. Even though I might not win and run second to him every time or whatever, but throughout the majority of a race it’s always him and I nose to tail in lapped traffic, which is a lot of fun, but he seems to come out on the better end of it with wins and all that stuff. So yeah, it sucked.”
“I don’t know. Yeah, I’d moved on shortly after because I was really mad when I got back to the bus and I texted Kyle about this, but the last thing I wanted to hear but the first thing I heard when I walked in the bus was, ‘Oh, did you get me some Skittles?’ (laughter). So, I couldn’t help but laugh at that, so that wasn’t what I wanted to hear but it kind of lightened the mood, so it helps to get over it a little bit.”
WHAT WAS YOUR THEORY ON WHY THE BOTTOM TURNED OUT TO BE SO DOMINANT AND THE TOP NEVER REALLY CAME IN AT BRISTOL? DO YOU THINK THAT WILL BE THE CASE IN AUGUST?
“I think it depends on the weather. You look at that race and all the stoppages we had, we never really had a long run or a couple long runs. I think it takes like two to three long runs there for the top to get worked in and the bottom wore out. We never really got that. Every time we’d get into somewhat of a feeling we were ready to go to a long run, rain would show up and the top wouldn’t come in. And then we’d restart and you’d run another 30 or 40 laps around the bottom and get cautions. You never had the opportunity for the top to get going. I felt like there in that last long run before the final caution, the people I was lapping were all up top. So, I felt like the top was where they all needed to be. My car was just really good and I could kind of run wherever I wanted. But I thought the track was really good. It’s always nice when you have options and stuff and you get to lap traffic. I felt like they’ve honed-in on a good VHT set-up for that place. I don’t know what