Kyle Larson not frustrated at recent runner-ups; hopes they lead to win Sunday

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In his last five races, Kyle Larson has three runner-up finishes, a third and 12th in NASCAR Cup competition.

Two of those three runner-ups have come in the last two races (Atlanta and Las Vegas).

So after being so close, so many times, could Larson finally reach victory lane in Sunday’s Camping World 500 at Phoenix Raceway?

“I hope so,” Larson said. “Our cars have had great speed every week. I’m very happy with everybody’s hard work at our shop, the hard work they put in through the offseason and through the beginning of the year.

“A win would be nice, and it would be nice to be the point leader right now, but we just have to keep these solid runs going and build on that momentum and hopefully the wins will start coming.

“Like I said, though, I’m really happy right now having a lot of fun, and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Larson is one point behind series leader Brad Keselowski, who won earlier this month at Atlanta.

Larson is one of several young drivers who have flourished during the first three races of 2017. The others include Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano – all 26 years old or under.

But Larson doesn’t believe youth – or the race format that includes stages – is the reason. Rather, it’s more a matter of how things have improved at Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I think our race cars are just really good,” Larson said. “I think our race cars are all just really good right now. I don’t think our age or inexperience or experience helps us. I think our race cars are just really good right now.”

Having better communication and sharing more data with Hendrick Motorsports has also been a big part of the No. 42 Chevrolet’s start this season.

“We share driver data, so throughout practice I can look at all four of the Hendrick driver’s stuff and they can look at my driver data as well,” Larson said. “So, like throttle braking, steering, RPM’s, stuff like that.

“We at Chip Ganassi Racing build our own chassis. … All we really get from Hendrick is that driver data, as far as I know, there might be more behind the scenes. But the driver data and the engines.”

Being so close to winning four times in the last five starts might frustrate some drivers but not Larson. He’s looking at things from a glass half-full outlook.

“No, I’m not frustrated at all,” he said. “I would love to run second every single week. That would mean we have a great shot at winning the championship.

“Obviously, it would be nice to get a win, and we have challenged now for most of the last probably five races. So, yeah, it’s really cool to run up front, but at the same time it’s not frustrating because it’s good. I’ve never had this speed this early in the year. I’m soaking it all in and enjoying it.”

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