CHEVY MENCS AT FONTANA: Kyle Larson Press Conf. Transcript

by Patrick Sue-Chan On Fri, Mar. 15, 2019

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
AUTO CLUB 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 15, 2019

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed the windy weather, driver codes, his California fan base, and more:

HOW WAS FIRST PRACTICE AND THE WINDS? HOW DID IT AFFECT YOU AND TRYING TO DRAFT WITH THE OTHER CARS ON THE TRACK?
“I was surprised. I thought we would feel the wind a lot more when I was out there, but I didn’t feel too much of it, I think. When I made my single car run, I felt a headwind down the front and maybe a tailwind down the back a little bit. That was about the only time I could really feel the wind. When we get to qualifying I think we’ll get a better idea of whatever everybody’s plans are as far as drafting and things like that. In the first round, if your car is good enough, you can make it without drafting but then I think the next two rounds, you’ll need to get somewhat of a toe. That’s kind of the fun part about this package so far is that you don’t really know what to expect going to each practice session or qualifying or the race.”

AFTER WHAT YOU SAW LAST OCTOBER AT MARTINSVILLE WITH JOEY LOGANO AND MARTIN TRUEX, DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT’S IN BOUNDS VERSUS OUT OF BOUNDS?
“I don’t know. I would just love to be in their position in the top two at the end of the race at Martinsville (laughter) rather than outside the top 20. I felt like Martin raced probably how I would have. So, I would have been bitter also. But then, with Joey making that move, led him to winning the championship. So, I think it’s a little different maybe earlier in the year than Playoff time, but it’s short track racing and everybody is raised a little differently.”

ARE YOU GUYS EXPECTING TIRE WEAR TO COME INTO PLAY A LITTLE MORE THAN USUAL HERE? DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE A TOTAL TIRE MANAGEMENT RACE?
“I wouldn’t say more than normal. But yeah, I still think car set-up and tire management will still be important. But, I don’t know if you’ll be short-pitting as much as we’ve done in the past here. With the downforce you can maintain grip longer throughout a run. I think the lower the downforce you have, the more you have to manage everything than now.”

WITH THE WIND SITUATION, IS IT DIFFICULT TO SET UP THE CAR? DOES IT AFFECT THE AERO BALANCE OF THE CAR?
“We’ve got a new engineer from the No. 78 team last year, Jazzy, and it’s been interesting to hear him talk each week about the wind and what direction it’s going and how that’s going to affect the balance. That’s stuff that I’ve thought about in the past, but never really thought about how it would affect set-up and how the crew chiefs would go about that. I think there are different things you can do to adjust for the wind, but I’m not really sure what that is.”

YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT DRIVER CODE AND HOW YOU TREAT OTHER PEOPLE. EARLY IN YOUR CAREER THERE WERE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU BEING ALMOST TOO NICE IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS. AS YOU HAVE EVOLVED AS A DRIVER, HOW YOUR CODE HAS CHANGED OR IF YOU HAVE HAD TO ADJUST DURING YOUR CAREER?
“At least since I’ve been here, I don’t think the sport has changed as far as driver code and things like that. I think when I was in 2016 and ‘17 is when people were maybe saying that. Or maybe I had more chances to win then and it stood out more. I don’t think I’ve changed really the way I go about racing for wins. I feel like I try to race with respect every lap of the race. But then you can look at Chicago last year and I was more aggressive than I would have been in the past or maybe it looked like I was okay with getting run into in the next corner because I initiated it. I feel like I have a good understanding. I don’t want to say what comes around goes around but I wasn’t upset then because I initiated it. Where, I think if you’re comparing Martin (Truex, Jr.) and Joey’s (Logano) deal, Martin raced him 100 percent clean and then Joey just got to his back bumper and moved him. Everybody is raised in how they race a little bit different.”

YOU HAVE A LOT OF FANS IN THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY AND YOU’RE VERY GOOD AT THIS TRACK. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR ABILITY TO PULL SOMETHING OFF FOR YOUR WEST COAST FANS THIS WEEKEND?
“We won here a couple years ago and ran second here last year. I got my first Xfinity win here. I think I’ve won two now at this track. I’ve gotten a pole. So, it’s been a good track for me. It’s somewhat close to home. I’m from Northern California so it’s still six hours of more from there. Yeah, it’s cool to have support at your home state. It’s nice. I guess it gives me a little bit of extra motivation to go out there and win for all the California people.”

DOES THIS PACKAGE LEND ITSELF TO HAVING TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE?
“Maybe to other people. I feel like I’m always really aggressive though, no matter what package. Restarts, especially, it’s hard to pass with any package you have. So, you always have to take advantage of restarts. That’s somewhere I feel like I’ve been strong. I don’t think I’m any more aggressive than I’ve been in the past.”

CAN YOU PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE FROM YOUR VIEWPOINT KYLE BUSCH BEING CLOSE TO 200 CAREER NASCAR WINS? ANY TYPE OF PATH LIKE THAT FOR YOU WOULD BE A LOT MORE DIFFICULT DUE TO THE RESTRICTIONS OF RACES YOU CAN RUN NOW AND KYLE DIDN’T HAVE THOSE FOR MUCH OF HIS CAREER. FROM A COMPETITOR WHO RACES A LOT AND SEE THAT SUCCESS, WHAT’S YOUR VIEWPOINT?
“I hate to see Kyle Busch win as much as anybody does (laughter). It’s just amazing to see how good he is in all types of series and race cars and his win percentages are unbelievable. Even with all the restrictions that you have now and races you can run, he still wins just as much if not more. For him to be as good as he is at every race track is pretty spectacular. You can look at most drivers and pinpoint their best race tracks. And, I don’t really know if you can do that with Kyle Busch. I think every race track is kind of his best track. For him to be one win away from 200, I think people can have opinions on where it stacks up against Richard Petty, but either way it’s amazing. He’s still got a long career left. He’s still really young. There’s no telling how many wins he could end up with before he retires some day.”

WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELING AT 180+ MILES PER HOUR, HOW DO YOU MANAGE NOT TO SCRAPE THAT WALL IN TURN 1?
“It’s no different than any Turn 1 that we race each and every week. We’ve all been doing it a long time. It’s not like at 180 mph going in a straight line it’s not hard to control. As your tires wear out it gets a little tougher and each lap gets harder. But we’re professional so it’s just part of the job.”

HAVE YOU GUYS TALKED AS A TEAM HOW IN THE WORLD NOT TO BEAT YOURSELVES? OR, DO YOU JUST SAY OKAY, MISTAKES HAPPEN AND YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT THEM?
“Yeah, we talk about them. We haven’t had the greatest last three weeks when it comes to execution. So, we just try and learn from it and talk about it and figure out how to not make that mistake again. I think I only had one speeding penalty last year and then I sped at Atlanta and the pit road penalty we had at Vegas, the call could have gone either way. And then last week, that was kind of embarrassing in qualifying. We’ve never made that mistake before. You’ve just got to learn from your mistakes. This series is so tough you have to be perfect all week long. From Friday to Sunday, you can’t make any mistakes. You’ve got to make all the right decisions and just try to maximize your potential of winning. Putting us back starting 31st last weekend hurt us in the stages. The pit road penalty at Vegas killed our stage points. We could have a lot more points right now and be up in the top three or four in points. But we didn’t do a great job. So, we’ve just got to clean that stuff up. I’m confident our team can do that. We’ve shown in the past that we can execute. We’ve just got to clean it up a little bit.”

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