For Kyle Larson, his third-place finish Sunday at Michigan International Speedway came out of nowhere.
“The last thing I knew I was running like ninth and I passed a couple guys,” Larson told NBCSN. “I guess more people ran out of fuel than I thought. I don’t really know what happened there. But yeah, it worked out.”
Larson’s top-five finish, his fourth in the last seven races, came after drivers like Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski had to pit inside the last 11 laps for fuel and others ran out of fuel on the last lap.
Other than a speeding penalty on Lap 45, Larson had a mostly uneventful day after he started 17th and failed to place in the top 10 in either of the first two stages.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver called the result a “great point saver.” With three races left in the regular season he is now 13th in the standings, 71 points above the playoff cutline. With his winless streak at 69 races, Larson will take all the good news he can get.
“Passed what felt like the most people today, so happy about that,” said Larson, who was correct. He had the most green-flag passes in the race with 128, one more than Ryan Preece. “We’re getting a little bit better. I feel like our cars are good. I feel like for intermediate style kind of racing, Michigan would probably be our worst track right now as far as just speed, so I’m excited now for the rest of the season.”
That’s surprising statement given Larson’s three consecutive wins at Michigan just a few years ago. But he finished 14th on the two-mile track in June.
In the eight races since, he’s finished outside the top 10 just twice, including placing 33rd at New Hampshire due to a wreck.
“I feel like we’ve been showing a lot of speed here the last two to two-and-a-half months now, so we contended for a win in Chicago and have had some good runs since then,” Larson said. “Some mistakes on my part (led to racing) backup cars, but all in all we’ve done a good job to bring fast race cars to the track every week.
“Just says a lot about our team and fighting through the season, and yeah, it’s a good time of year to get the speed and get some rhythm, so hopefully we can keep it going.”