With old tires, Kyle Larson had to be perfect on three restarts over the last 16 laps of Sunday’s Cup race at Pocono Raceway.
Otherwise, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver would jeopardize a shot at his fifth top five of the season.
Larson succeeded, managing to hold off a Kyle Busch, who had newer tires, to place second, earning his third runner-up result of the season.
“Was happy about that because I felt like obviously we were at a little bit of a disadvantage on tires there, but the track position overcame that,” Larson said. “But I felt like if I didn’t have a good restart on any one of those, I would have fell back outside the top five from those guys on fresher tires. Happy we finished second but needed a lot more to kind of compete with the three guys that ran up front all day.”
Larson earned his second top five in three races and just his third since the April 16 race at Bristol, where he finished second.
The No. 42 team has consistently been the highest performing Chevrolet in a year when Chevy teams are getting acclimated to the new Camaro model. Larson was the highest-placing Chevy driver Sunday with Jimmie Johnson next in eighth.
“I felt like my car today was kind of as good as it’s been all year,” Larson said. “I feel like the Hendrick (Motorsports) guys have definitely gotten better, as well as (Richard Childress Racing) guys. But I feel like I’ve kind of just been a step behind (Busch, Truex and Harvick).
“I definitely felt like (Harvick) had the most power down the straightaways today, the little bit I was in front of him there at the end. I felt like even when I get a good exit off of (Turn) 3, he would close on me a lot, compared to (Busch) and (Truex) a little bit, but (Harvick) was definitely really fast.”
Larson and the series now head to Michigan International Speedway, the 2-mile track where Larson has won the last three Cup races.
He will be looking to earn his first victory since last year’s regular-season finale at Richmond.
“I hadn’t really thought about Michigan yet,” Larson said. “But yeah, I’m excited to go there off of three wins in a row. … For whatever reason, we’ve been fast there. We actually weren’t that fast the last one we had, but we were able to have some good restarts at the end.
“Hopefully we can go and have our car as competitive as it was the first two times and try and get a fourth win.”