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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Larson Feels Like Bristol Doesn’t Owe Him a Victory

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As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the eighth race of the season, Kyle Larson is returning to his favorite track. The California native has never won at the high-banked short track in the Cup Series, but hopes to find victory after being so close many times in the past.

A victory would be critical at this time as unfortunately for Larson, it hasn’t been the smoothest start of the season for the 26-year-old. He only has two top-10 finishes and an average finish of 15.1. Last year, he placed second in both races at Thunder Valley.

“I don’t feel like I’m owed anything anywhere, but that’s the one track where I feel like time after time I’m close to winning a race there every time I go,” Larson said. “I just don’t get it done. Not that it owes me anything. I just need to do a better job at the end of the races.”

The Sprint car expert is no stranger to losing close races in dirt competition as well. During this year’s memorable Chili Bowl, Larson lost the event with a few laps remaining against rival Christopher Bell.

Both drivers come from dirt racing backgrounds and have proven to be successful on asphalt. Larson’s aggressiveness in a Sprint car sometimes transitions to stock cars, which may be a reason why he hasn’t been able to close out a Cup Series race at Bristol.

“I think you’ve got to be really aggressive to run a winged Sprint Car and maybe sometimes I’m over-aggressive in a stock car,” Larson said. “Other than that, I think there are more good habits than bad habits. I think racing any type of car helps for any type of car, too. I mean the aggressive side of things is also good in NASCAR. You need to be aggressive. But, I don’t know; maybe sometimes I get over-aggressive. I’m not really sure. But, I think racing winged Sprint Cars helps me more than anything.”

While Bristol is just another race this year, it will play an important moving forward in NASCAR. Last week, the Cup Series schedule for 2020 was released, with the half-mile becoming the first cutoff race in the playoffs. Other  significant modifications includes the changing of the season finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway to ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona.

Larson is enthusiastic about the schedule change and the cutoff races.

“Overall, I think the schedule is really good,” Larson said. “It just adds a lot of excitement to the year. I think going to the West Coast before Atlanta is good. I think all the cutoff races in the Playoffs are really intense, exciting places that the points can change a lot throughout those events. Yeah, I think it was good. Having a two week break is nice. Some weekends take some Sprint Car races away from me, but others add a lot more, too. So overall, I think the schedule is really exciting.

“Even though Homestead has been a track where I can lead a bunch of laps and also challenge for wins, I feel like it needs to go somewhere else. I’d still like to see it go, and Joey Logano mentioned it on TV this week, but go to a different track every year just like the Super Bowl does. Like for me, Homestead is my best track and everybody says if I make it to the final four, I’ve got the best shot. Well it shouldn’t always be like that. It shouldn’t go to Phoenix where Kevin Harvick has got the best odds to win every year. It should be able to move around. I think if tracks could bid on it or however it works in football, I think that would be cool.”

The 2020 Cup Series schedule is the first of changes to come to the sport heading into the future. Revising the schedule has been in the talks the past few years and the adjustments show that NASCAR is listening to the fans.

Nonetheless, this season is still young and there is a lot of racing to be run before we think about next year. As for Larson, he still has time to become more consistent and contend for wins.

This weekend at Bristol may very well be what turns around the No. 42 teams’ season and it couldn’t come at a better time in the schedule.



The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Brandon Rivero

Brandon Rivero lives 45 miles north of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Born and raised in Miami, FL, he currently is a student at Florida International University school of Communications and Journalism with a focus in Public Relations. In addition to POPULAR SPEED, Rivero is a member of his university's Public Relations Student Society of America and an intern for the Florida Panthers NHL Club.