Kyle Larson is missing something at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has shown lots of promise at the short track in both the Cup and Xfinity Series, but that has yet to deliver himself to victory lane in 16 combined starts at the track.
“It seems like every time I’ve been here, whether it’s Xfinity or Cup I can pretty much dominate the first half and then I guess I come back to everybody else,” Larson said Friday at Bristol. “It seems like I always make mistakes on pit road and stuff like that. Just got to clean it all up and that will give me a better shot at getting a win here. And then you’ve got to get somewhat lucky being in the outside lane to restart.”
In last season’s two Cup races at Bristol, Larson led a combined 272 laps. In the spring race, Larson started from the pole, led the first 202 laps and won Stage 1. But after a speeding penalty, Larson finished sixth.
In August, Larson led 70 laps after starting second, but fell to third by the end of Stage 1. He finished ninth.
In his last three Xfinity starts in “Thunder Valley” dating back to 2016, Larson has led 474 laps but finished third twice and seventh. He’s finished second three times in his eight starts.
“I think it’s probably more on me,” Larson said. “As the track changes, I think I have to get a little bit smarter in how I communicate on what changes I think need to be done to the car to keep turning the corner good and having good grip. … I don’t know why I have seemed to struggle, but it seems like everybody else just becomes a little bit better than I do the second half of the race, so maybe this weekend will be different.”
Larson started the weekend by placing fifth in Friday’s lone practice session.
The No. 42 team is coming off its first DNF of the year last week at Texas Motor Speedway. Larson finished 36th after losing a right-front tire and wrecking on Lap 126.
It is his worst finish through seven races.
Now Larson looks to redeem himself at one of his favorite tracks, where he deems lapped traffic “so much fun.”
“You don’t really have any time to relax,” Larson said. “You catch (lapped traffic) in 15 laps or whatever. Then you are just carving through it. You just catch a guy and you go to wherever they are not. It’s fun to have options like that. Yeah, I was watching the race back and I just, I guess I’ve been saying it a lot, but I just get really excited about this place because it kind of races like a dirt track and it’s a lot of fun.”