Kyle Larson drove his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet to a third place finish in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, earning his best result of the season. It’s a track where Larson has struggled in the past which made this top five even sweeter.
His four previous starts at Martinsville resulted in finishes of 42nd, 27th, 30th and 19th.
“It was really fun this whole weekend to be competitive every time I was on the race track. Normally, I’m very bad here and to finish top three feels like a win for me. Never would I have thought that I’d get a top three here and now I can kind of see a (Grandfather) clock, maybe in my future,” Larson said post race.
“We were running in the top five and top seven the whole race. I learned a lot,” he continued. “I spent a lot of time behind Jimmie Johnson and I felt like I just followed his track there and got a lot better throughout the race. Chad (Johnson, crew chief) did a good job taking two tires there at the end, we got lined-up on the inside row and we were pretty good there. So, hat’s off to everybody on this Target Chevy and it was cool to get a good finish.”
Larson also ran in the Camping World Truck Series event this weekend, where he finished fourth. He talked about the advantage of competing in both races and the importance of seat time.
“Normally, a truck does not drive anything like a Cup car, and this is the only racetrack probably where it does,” he explained, “just getting more laps on this racetrack is the most important part for myself. In the past, I’ve always struggled with just hitting my marks lap after lap, and I think getting almost twice the amount of laps here this weekend as I normally would here, just helped me become smoother and more patient and maybe get an idea of what I need to feel like going around the racetrack.”
I definitely think it paid off,” he added. “Hopefully, the next Martinsville I can run both again. I think it helped a lot, and hopefully, it’s something I can do from here on out for a while until I feel like I’m good enough where I don’t need to run it.”
Larson’s 2016 season has a rollercoaster of highs and lows but he hopes to use his success at Martinsville as motivation going forward.
“In the past,” Larson said, “it’s (Martinsville) been my worst racetrack on the schedule, so to get a top‑three finish here feels great, feels like a win, to be honest, and hopefully, this is a good momentum shift that we need. We’ve been struggling all year long so far and been working hard, but it hasn’t paid off.”
The Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next week where Larson will try to capitalize on his success at Martinsville as he looks for another “solid finish.”