MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
FOOD CITY 500
TEAM CHEVY ROUNDTABLE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 2, 2019
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CAMARO ZL1 met with media for a roundtable discussion of the upcoming Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Full Transcript:
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE DATE CHANGE FOR THE FALL RACE IN BRISTOL NEXT YEAR?
“Overall, I think the schedule is really good. It just adds a lot of excitement to the year. I think going to the West Coast before Atlanta is good. I think all the cutoff races in the Playoffs are really intense, exciting places that the points can change a lot throughout those events. Yeah, I think it was good. Having a two week break is nice. Some weekends take some Sprint Car races away from me, but others add a lot more, too. So overall, I think the schedule is really exciting.”
DO YOU THINK IT WILL ADD URGENCY BY BEING A CUTOFF RACE?
“Yeah, any cutoff race is intense. And Bristol is always intense anyway. I think it just adds a whole other level of intensity to it. You’ll see just more strategy and more aggressive driving, even though it already is really aggressive there. If any track had a cutoff race, it would be more intense than it was before.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE BRISTOL OWES YOU A WIN?
I don’t feel like I’m owed anything anywhere but that’s the one track where I feel like time after time I’m close to winning a race there every time I go. I just don’t get it done. Not that it owes me anything. I just need to do a better job at the end of the races.”
HOW DOES THE PJ1 THAT THEY USE ON THE TRACK CHANGE THE RACING AT BRISTOL?
“I just feel like it gives you a little more options through lapped traffic. If you catch a lot of traffic and the bottom is so much slower than the top it was hard to pass people. Where now, you still get going at the top throughout the race, but when you get to traffic now you can have options of moving around. It’s made less time to relax there and just having more options is just more fun as a race car driver.”
WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE TO HAVE KURT BUSCH AS A TEAMMATE?
“Kurt has been good. I wish I could have been his teammate back when driving styles meant something. It’s just tough to learn as much as I could have learned off of him. I think had it been last year…. But still, listening to him, you dissect a race car and what he’s feeling each and every weekend. It doesn’t matter what track you go to. He can describe a car and what he’s feeling down to every inch of the race track. So, it’s pretty amazing and I don’t have that feel. I think just for me, not growing up racing these cars; but just listening to him and trying to learn off of that kind of stuff has been fun to listen to.”
OBVIOUSLY YOU’VE HAD GREAT SUCCESS IN SPRINT CARS. IS IT HARD TO TRANSITION BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THAT AND STOCK CAR RACING? DO YOU GET BAD HABITS?
“I think you’ve got to be really aggressive to run a winged Sprint Car and maybe sometimes I’m over-aggressive in a stock car. Other than that, I think there are more good habits than bad habits. I think racing any type of car helps for any type of car, too. I mean the aggressive side of things is also good in NASCAR. You need to be aggressive. But, I don’t know; maybe sometimes I get over-aggressive. I’m not really sure. But, I think racing winged Sprint Cars helps me more than anything.”
THAT BEING SAID, YOU ARE KNOWN FOR USING THE TOP GROOVE AND THAT SORT OF FITS RIGHT INTO BRISTOL. WHAT IS IT ABOUT BRISTOL THAT LIKE SO MUCH?
“Bristol to me feels like a 500-lap dirt race. It’s just really intense and aggressive. Again, you can run the top and the bottom and pull slide jobs and all that. It suits my driving style a lot. It’s got progressive banking so I think that’s why; everybody can run the top there. It’s not to hard to run the top at Bristol.”
HOW BIG OF A CHANGE IS IT TO RACE SPRINT CARS AND THEN STOCK CARS?
“This is my sixth year in Cup. So, I think I’m well into that transition. But in the beginning I think yeah, just getting used to the pit stops and stuff like that and how to manage a race was difficult. Where, now I race more in stock cars than I do dirt stuff. So, If anything, it’s harder now to go run a 30-lap feature than it is to run a 500-mile race. It’s almost being too patient when you get to those races. But, I don’t know. I don’t really think about that stuff anymore just because I feel like I’m not a rookie anymore.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ANOTHER BRISTOL BUILT? OR ANOTHER RACE THERE? DO YOU LIKE IT THAT MUCH?
“It’s my favorite track. I’d show up every Saturday night if I could (laughter).”
DID THE SWITCH JUST FLIP THE LAST TWO YEARS BECAUSE YOU’RE AVERAGE QUALIFYING HAS BEEN KNOCKED DOWN TO 2.5 AND YOUR WORST FINISH IN YOUR LAST FOUR STARTS THERE IS NINTH? IT’S BEEN A REMARKABLE TURNAROUND
“As far as qualifying goes, I don’t know. I’ve always raced well there. I think I lead laps almost every time I’m there and always, at some point in the race, I feel like I’m challenging for the win. As far as qualifying goes, I don’t know. Yeah, I mean, I think before, our balance wasn’t as good in qualifying. And then I would try to over-compensate and drive too hard and that makes everything just worse. The last couple of years in working with the same group of guys, we’ve kind of gotten a good package when we go there. So, that always helps for qualifying; and just becoming older and knowing what you need to do more.”
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THE SAVE THAT YOU HAD IN AUGUST 2017 AT BRISTOL?
“I’ve had a lot of near misses. Was that in practice or in the race? I guess if we’re talking about the race; I was leading and carving through traffic pretty well and always at Bristol, I get a pretty nice line going and you’re high into (Turn) 3 and exit low off of (Turn) 4. I’d lapped (Ryan) Newman and went to continue to do that line and he just got to my inside as I was coming down and clipped his right front and I spun and somehow didn’t hit anything; and then still came back to somewhat challenge for the win, I think, later in that race. Yeah, I don’t know. I just got lucky.”
YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF SAVES, BUT TO SAVE AT BRISTOL IS BIG. THAT’S WHEN THEY CAN GRAB YOU EASILY
‘Yeah, I don’t remember really like if I was like wheeling it or anything. But, I didn’t hit the wall and nobody hit me, thankfully.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT PACKAGE IS GOING TO DO THERE BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY AT PHOENIX, THE SPOILER, AND EVEN AT MARTINSVILLE IT SEEMED LIKE IT HAD A BIG EFFECT. HOW WILL THAT AFFECT THE RACING AT BRISTOL?
“I just try to judge everything off of Xfinity back when their spoiler was a little bigger. And yeah, I think it will get so fast at top, you’ll still be able to move around. It’s still going to race like Bristol. It’ll be just a little tougher to pass just like it has been everywhere, I think. But, I feel like they’ve gotten a pretty good handle on the PH1 and where and how to apply it, where you’ll have options to hopefully find some cleaner air and work people and get by. I’ve always felt like in Xfinity you can do slide jobs a little easier for whatever reason. So maybe we’ll see more of that in the Cup race. Just like anywhere; any track we go to this year, I don’t really know what to expect until we get some laps into the race.”
COULD THAT ESSENTIALLY PLAY INTO YOU HANDS SINCE YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE RACING XFINITY THERE RELATIVE TO SLIDE-JOBS AND THINGS LIKE THAT?
“I don’t know. Bristol is just my favorite track and probably my best track, so I think that’s why it would play into my hands just than I’m comfortable there; not necessarily because of a different package than we’ve had there in the past. I’ve been fast in every style of package we’ve ran there. So I don’t expect anything different this time around. Kyle Busch could lead a bunch of laps and probably win or be there challenging for the win unless he gets some bad luck. Your normal guys are going to be up front racing hard. It’s just different horsepower and downforce. Or, I guess not even different horsepower, just different downforce.”
WHEN YOU WON THE XFINITY RACE LAST YEAR I THINK ONE OF YOUR COMMENTS WAS IT WAS KIND OF A SHAME THAT KYLE BUSCH HAD THE PROBLEMS. YOU’VE FINISHED SECOND TO HIM FOUR TIMES THERE. I UNDERSTAND YOU WANT TO WIN ANYWHERE. WOULD IT BE SOMETHING SPECIAL TO BEAT HIM IN A MANO-A-MANO TYPE OF BATTLE IF YOU HAD THAT OPPORTUNITY?
“Yeah, it would be nice to beat him anywhere (laughs). Maybe my first Xfinity win at Fontana would be like the only one where I feel like I’ve actually beat him. At Bristol, I feel like I’m as good or better than him there. Their team and him does a really good job the second half of the races to beat me; to get track position and beat me. So, I feel like I’m definitely at least equal with him there. But he wins all the time. So yeah it would be nice to finally beat him there.”
WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE MISSED OR MISSED IN THE PAST IN SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR THE SECOND HALF? IS IT PACING? IS IT JUST SOMETHING THAT JUST HAPPENS ON PIT ROAD? IS IT TRAFFIC?
“I feel like I get through traffic just as good as him or better. I just feel like I don’t know if it’s him or their team or whatever that does a better job with keeping up with the race track the second half of the races to have a better balance. And then also, just doing a little better job on pit road and gain a spot or two more than I might. And then you get stuck on the inside lane and you’re killed. If you can come off the leader, it’s tough to beat him if you’re starting inside and you’re probably going to leave Turn 2 in third or fourth. So, to make up that ground is tough. I just think they’ve done a little bit better job than I have there.”
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT COULD BE DONE TO KIND OF BALANCE OUT THOSE LANES BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN THAT DRAMATIC ADVANTAGE WITH THE OUTSIDE LANE?
“Go single file restarts (laughs). There is PJ1 on the bottom, and the leader is still able to choose the outside and get the jump.”
WOULD IT BE HELPFUL TO PUT THE PJ1 IN THE RESTART ZONE OR WOULD THAT JUST MESS UP THINGS?
“Honestly, I mean you take off in the PJ1 when you’re on the bottom, I think, from what I remember. So now I mean, I don’t know. Because if you do that, you’re still racing in the bottom lane. I don’t know. It’s just the way the banking is in the corners and stuff, I think the top lane in the first couple of rows is going to be dominant no matter what, unless you put baby powder down right before you take off (laughter).”
ON REMOVING HOMESTEAD AS THE FINAL RACE ON THE 2020 SCHEDULE
“Even though Homestead has been a track where I can lead a bunch of laps and also challenge for wins, I feel like it needs to go somewhere else. I’d still like to see it go, and Joey Logano mentioned it on TV this week, but go to a different track every year just like the Super Bowl does. Like for me, Homestead is my best track and everybody says if I make it to the final four, I’ve got the best shot. Well it shouldn’t always be like that. It shouldn’t go to Phoenix where Kevin Harvick has got the best odds to win every year. It should be able to move around. I think if tracks could bid on it or however it works in football, I think that would be cool.”
EVERY YEAR OR EVERY COUPLE OF YEARS?
“Every year. Why not?” Well, I wouldn’t like it to go to Martinsville, but other than that (laughter).”