(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
Kyle Larson achieved a couple of “firsts” when he notched his third straight runner-up in last weekend’s race at Phoenix. He became the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity alum to top the points standings, as well as the first Chip Ganassi Racing driver to lead the standings this late in the season since 2002.
On Sunday, he’ll attempt to notch his first win of the season in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX) – the third and final stop of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ “NASCAR Goes West.”
“It’s weird running all these seconds,” Larson said. “It took me, like, three years to finish second in sprint cars. Now I finish second like every week, so… a little weird, but maybe we’ll turn them into wins soon.”
Larson, who at 24 years, seventh months old, is the sixth-youngest points leader in series history, has come close to earning that elusive win in almost every race this season. He led on the final lap of the Daytona 500 before running out of gas, paced the field at Atlanta with four laps left before Brad Keselowski passed him, and almost tracked down Ryan Newman during the two-lap overtime shootout at Phoenix.
The No. 42 Chevrolet driver claims finishes of second, 26th and 39th in three career starts at Auto Club. He grew up in Elk Grove, California (a suburb of Sacramento), a 6.5-mile drive from the two-mile track.
“(Auto Club) is a fun race track,” Larson said. “It’s super wide, really slick, lots of lanes to choose from. The seams play a big part in finding grip. It’s somewhat close to home for me. I get to see some old race fans or sprint car fans and friends and stuff. I enjoy going there.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!