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It was a solid day with a second place finish for Kyle Larson and his No. 42 DC Solar Camaro ZL1 in the Auto Club 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race at Auto Club Speedway. The defending event winner posted his third top-10 finish in five races at the challenging 2-mile California track. The result also marked Larson’s third top-10 finish thus far in the 2018 season. He was able to rally from contact with Kevin Harvick on Lap 37 of the 200-lap race, and then from a brake issue later in the event.
Jimmie Johnson, who has won at Auto Club Speedway six times, finished 9th in his No. 48 Lowe’s For Pros Camaro ZL1; and Austin Dillon, behind the wheel of his No. 3 Dow Coatings Camaro ZL1 was 10th in the final order.
Martin Truex, Jr. (Toyota) was the race winner, Kyle Busch (Toyota) was third, Brad Keselowski (Ford) was fourth, and Joey Logano (Ford) finished fifth to round out the top 5.
The next race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) will be at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia for the STP 500 on Sunday, March 25 at 2:00 pm ET. Live coverage can be found on FOX1, PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 DC SOLAR CAMARO ZL1 POST RACE PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our second place finisher in the 22nd Annual Auto Club 400, Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing.
A tough, grueling race out there today, a lot of tire falloff. Talk about the race today.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it was a pretty tough race from the start. Fell back a little bit, was able to get past a few cars. Obviously Kevin and I had our issue there down the backstretch, just racing hard, side drafting each other for a few laps. I think he came down to maybe side draft down me, got in my right rear, it spun him pretty quick.
From then on we had to repair a little damage, come from the back. Was able to get to sixth or so into the first stage in a short amount of time, which was good.
Then there late, we had an issue with the left front on one of our pit stops, then had to come from the back again maybe that whole last run there.
It was good to get all the way to second. Would have liked to be one spot better, but we couldn’t even see Martin. Got to be a little bit better.
All in all, a good day. We fought hard. That’s all you can ask for.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll start with questions.
Q. Kyle, you were around Kevin (Harvick) obviously quite a bit there in the early going. Do you think he would have had anything for Truex at the end?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it’s so hard to tell early in the race, but just the little bit I was around Kevin, I felt like he still had the best car. Who’s to say, though? Didn’t get to really race a whole lot. The little bit I was around him, his car seemed to get through one and two really good. I could be fairly even with him in three and four. One and two, he was really fast. I’m sure he would have made it better throughout the race.
But, yeah, I don’t know. He’ll be good every weekend.
Q. Kyle, what do you think it is that you’ve been able to find driving the new Chevy that the other teams can’t figure out yet?
KYLE LARSON: It’s nothing I’ve found. I don’t know, our race team has a lot of smart people within our organization. Any time we had a rules change over the last three or four years, the one off weekends like Darlington or Michigan, our team would do a good job, we’d be fast those weekends.
I think they just did a lot of homework on this new car. For whatever reason, we seem to be a little bit better than the other Chevy teams, which we were kind of last year, too.
But, yeah, I’ve been happy to see how we’ve started so far. But we still have a little ways to go to win.
Q. Kyle, when you were racing with Harvick, were you surprised you were racing as hard as you were? Did you think one of you was going to let the other person go?
KYLE LARSON: No, I wasn’t surprised that we were racing that hard, or he was racing me as hard as he was to try to hold me off. He had pitted a lap before me, so I had a lap fresher tires than him, was better than him at that point, in that little run we got in.
I think he knew he was better than I was overall, so he was just trying to hold me off, race me hard to maybe burn my stuff up, then he could stay in front of me, not have to worry about me 10, 15 laps later when he would be better than me.
I was actually having a lot of fun racing like that because this place is really cool, you can just kind of go wherever. I was a lot better than him in three and four. One and two, he was a little bit better than me in those few laps. Yeah, just got to battling really, really hard.
Q. Kyle, the radio chatter was fairly animated after that accident. Were you upset at all? Was there any damage that you felt impacted the ability of your car the rest of the race?
KYLE LARSON: No, I don’t really feel like any damage impacted us because we were able to drive to the front right after that.
Yeah, I mean, I was pretty amped up on the radio there right after just because I felt like at the time maybe he let his frustration build and kind of just ran into me down the backstretch, wrecked himself. I thought he would be mad at me or something like that, which I knew I didn’t do anything wrong at the time.
A couple minutes later, they let me know he was taking the blame for it on the radio, which was nice. I was able to chill out some.
Yeah, I mean, I respect Kevin a lot. I think he respects me a lot, too. You never want to see anything like that happen.
Q. The issue they had to fix, was that something that broke or a mistake?
KYLE LARSON: I haven’t exactly seen what broke. Sounded like brake duct or something fell in between the wheel. Yeah, I don’t know if that was something the pit crew guys hit and broke or whatever. I’m just glad I could feel it under that caution and was able to pit. That would have ruined our day, had I not.
Article by Nancy Wager
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