Kyle Larson used determination and hard racing to earn his third runner-up finish of the year in his DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. Even though Larson came up just shy of scoring his first win of the season once again, he was happy with the team’s result.
“I am happy we finished second because we were probably a sixth or seventh place car today and to finish better than where you run is always a good thing,” said Larson. “I am happy about that. Our DC Solar Chevy was competitive, but needs to be a little bit better to compete with the 18, the 4, and the 78. They are definitely the class of the field. We are close and we are getting a little bit better, but so are they. So we just have to keep working hard.”
Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson earned his sixth top ten finish thus far in 2018 in the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Camaro ZL1 with a solid eighth-place finish at Pocono. Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, brought his No. 9 NAPA Camaro ZL1 home in 10th place to give Team Chevy three top ten finishers in the race.
Martin Truex Jr. (Toyota) was the race winner, Kyle Busch (Toyota) was third, Kevin Harvick (Ford) was fourth and Brad Keselowski (Ford) was fifth to round out the top five finishers.
Next week the series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the 15th race of the 2018 season. The Firekeepers Casino 400 begins at 2:00 p.m., ET on Sunday afternoon, June 10th.
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 DC SOLAR CAMARO ZL1 – Finished 2nd
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Kyle Larson, who finished second today. He’s the driver of the No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet. Take us through that run there at the end.
KYLE LARSON: We weren’t quite as fast as what I thought we’d be after practice. I ran probably sixth or seventh all day long and finished second. 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. 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 5 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.
Q. Larson, could you just talk about the progression of the 42 team? Just seems like Chevrolet has been trying to catch up all season with the Camaro. How was the car today compared to the Toyotas?
KYLE LARSON: I felt like my car today was kind of as good as it’s been all year. I feel like the Hendrick guys have definitely gotten better, as well as RCR guys. But I feel like I’ve kind of just been a step behind the 18, the 78 and the 4.
I definitely felt like the 4 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 3, he would close on me a lot, compared to the 18 and the 78 a little bit, but the 4 was definitely really fast.
But we’ve got to just continue to work hard and, yeah, try and get our cars a little bit better.
Q. Were you surprised by the difference that the clean air made as opposed to the tires? Not pitting and pitting seemed to make way more of a difference last year as opposed to this year?
KYLE LARSON: No, I mean, clean air is always super important here. He and the 4 were way better than I was at the end, but I was just able to kind of stay just low enough on exit I felt like to keep them tight behind me, so yeah, clean air is just important everywhere, but especially I feel like when you get to these fast tracks that are pretty flat.
Q. Kyle, I know obviously you were at the go‑kart track last night, but then right after that you and Denny ran into someone who was out of gas. Can you kind of go through that story and explain what happened? Any good karma now that you end up P2?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, a little good karma probably. Yeah, that was fun at S&S Speedway there, a little slick track. That place was a lot of fun. But yeah, as soon as we left, like a quarter mile up the road, kind of gets windy and it was dark and we were following this minivan that had started slowing down in front of us, so we stopped just to see what was wrong, if they needed help, and they were out of fuel, so all we did was really just turn around and go get a fuel jug from the go‑kart track, cruise up and put a couple gallons in their car and sent them on their way and led them to a nearby gas station. Yeah, it was cool to help out. They had a little daughter, so we just wanted to make sure that they were safe because it was a very ‑‑ I think they called that corner dead man’s corner, so yeah, we didn’t want to leave them stranded there.
Q. Larson, just how do you feel going into Michigan next week where you’ve been so good, and how do you evaluate what your season has been so far this year?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I hadn’t really thought about Michigan yet. But yeah, I’m excited to go there off of three wins in a row. Yeah, you know, 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.
Q. How likely do you think it is that the four guys that finished top 4 are likely to be like the championship racers at Homestead in November?
KYLE LARSON: I’m good with it. Let’s do it. I don’t know, I think three out of the four have definitely been the best. I think ‑‑ I would say me. I mean, I’m the only one that doesn’t have a win in the front four. But yeah, I mean, the 2, the 12 ‑‑ yeah, I don’t know. I think that three of those guys are definitely head over heels better than the rest of us, but I think from fourth to sixth or seventh best car, it’s pretty close.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports/Team Chevy PR/Photo Credit Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images