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Kyle Larson: getting second Cup win ‘just as important’ the first

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – This offseason is different for Kyle Larson in one big way.

For the first time in four years of racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Larson doesn’t have to worry about getting his first win.

Larson finally earned his first Cup victory at Michigan International Speedway last August. The victory was the first for Chip Ganassi Racing since 2013.

But Larson doesn’t feel any different heading into the 2017 season than he did the previous three offseasons.

“I just continue to want to win,” Larson said Wednesday at the NASCAR Media Tour. “Wanting to win the second win is just as important as wanting to win the first win, to me. So yeah, it doesn’t feel any different. I’m just going to go out there and try to do the best job I can every single week and hopefully we can get some more wins this year.”

Larson’s win put him in the playoffs for the first time with teammate Jamie McMurray, though both were eliminated after the first round. What will it take for Ganassi to capitalize on its most successful season in more than four years?

“I don’t know if there is one thing you can pinpoint,” Larson said. “I think everything needs to be better. Aero. To be a championship team, you need to just be better than everybody at everything. I could do a better job at executing. Our pit calls could be better. I’m not saying that anything is bad, but I’m saying that everything could be a little bit better to gain lap time and improve on finishes. So, we just try to focus hard and dig down deep to make everything a little bit better.”

As in seasons past, Larson won’t confine his racing schedule to the Cup Series this year. The 24-year-old driver will continue to pursue his passion of dirt racing.

Ganassi is permitting Larson to compete in 25 non-Cup races this year and he’s already used up three of those. Larson says he will have to find more mid-week sprint races to fit into his busy NASCAR schedule.

“This season, it’s harder to find races because last year worked out perfectly the way the NASCAR season was, at least where the off-weekends fell,” Larson said. “I got to run six nights of Ohio Speedweek with the All-Stars. I got to run the Knoxville Nationals. But this year, I probably only get to run two nights of (Ohio) Speedweek and maybe I can run Oskaloosa (Southern Iowa Speedway) during Nationals week. I’ll probably do a couple nights of Midget Week again. It will just be harder to find races.”

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NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson’s patience propels him to victory lane in Food City 500

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Jimmie Johnson is known for his patience behind the wheel. Where other drivers may get too hot under the collar and over-react, Johnson is typically cool as a cucumber — and that’s helped lead him to many of his 82 career NASCAR Cup wins.

That patience once again played out in Johnson’s win Monday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, only his second career triumph (and first in seven years) at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

On Monday’s NASCAR America, Greg Biffle and Kyle Petty discussed Johnson’s patience throughout Monday’s race.

 

 

Heavy foot on pit road foils Kyle Larson once again at Bristol

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Kyle Larson did everything he could to win Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He led a race-high 203 laps in the 500-lap event, including dominating Stage 1, leading all 125 laps, as well as the first 77 laps in Stage 2.

But Larson, known for the heavy foot he has, saw that need for speed at the wrong time likely cost him the win.

When Erik Jones wrecked on Lap 422, Larson came to pit road and was too fast across two consecutive timing zones on the front straightaway en route to his pit stall.

“I was just pushing on pit road and messed up there,” Larson said after the race. “To start the race, I was the leader, I would run all my greens down pit road, and then once I fell back … down the straightaway I was running one red and flashed the second red real quick, and I guess that was all she wrote.”

NASCAR penalized Larson for speeding on pit road, dropping him to the back of the longest line, restarting in 20th place with 72 laps left in the race.

“Yeah, I knew I gave the race away there,” Larson said. “(I’m) disappointed in myself. I think I speed on pit road every single time I come to Bristol. So, I’ve got to clean that up.”

There’s that heavy foot admission once again.

Ironically, it was Larson’s first speeding penalty this season.

To his credit, Larson was able to quickly climb back up the grid, but couldn’t finish higher than sixth.

Still, Larson tried to a positive spin on things as he began to leave the track.

“I don’t know what more you could ask out of this place,” Larson said. “This is the best track we go to, most exciting place, and I love coming here.”

But he doesn’t like the way he came out of it once again, thanks to that darn heavy foot.

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NASCAR America: Dale Jarrett, Kelli Stavast recap Bristol driver performances

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After waiting out 28 straight hours of rain, Monday’s rescheduled Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway produced a rather exciting race.

The addition of adhesive to the lower grove at the track gave drivers additional grip that led to side-by-side and even three-wide racing.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kelli Stavast discussed the top driver performances in Monday’s race.

 

 

NASCAR America: My Home Track: Maine’s Oxford Plains, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway

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NASCAR America’s My Home Track series continued Monday as we visited Maine, otherwise known as the Pine Tree State.

Not only is it a great state for racing, including places like Oxford Plains and Beach Ridge Motor Speedway, Maine also lays claim to NBCSN’s own Steve Letarte, who paid homage to his home state in Monday’s edition of NASCAR America.