TEAM CHEVY AT DARLINGTON: Kyle Larson Press Conf. Transcript

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
DARLINGTON RACEWAY
BOJANGLES’ SOUTHERN 500
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 30, 2019

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CLOVER CAMARO ZL1, met with media to discuss what Darlington Raceway means to him, hitting a positive stride leading into the Playoffs, what he can apply from his dominate run at Darlington last year, and more. Full Transcript:

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK, THERE’S ALWAYS DISCUSSION ABOUT INDIANAPOLIS AND WHETHER NASCAR DESERVES A DATE GOING THERE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON INDIANAPOLIS AND ITS PLACE ON THE SCHEDULE? DOES IT STILL HAVE RELEVANCE IN NASCAR?
“I don’t know. I mean as long as I’ve been alive, they’ve been going there. So, for me, yeah, I think we should be racing there. Obviously, the racing isn’t the most exciting there, but it’s still a historical place that I always enjoy going to, getting to be in the garage area and going around the same race track that some legends have. I don’t really know how else to answer that, but I think it deserves to be on the schedule.”


American Muscle

WHAT KIND OF TRACK IS DARLINGTON TO YOU? DO YOU LOVE DRIVING HERE OR DO YOU HAVE RESERVATIONS ABOUT THIS TRACK?
“This is one of my favorite tracks, probably in the top three of my favorites. I enjoy coming here. This track, more than the rest of them, when you drive into this place you feel like you are at a race track. I know it is throwback weekend, but even before all that, I always got that vibe that this felt like a race track. It has fairly small stands for how big this place is. The painted walls, the campgrounds and everything just feels like a grass roots kind of track. The surface is really worn out, the style of racing here is intense, so it suits me and I really enjoy it.”

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“Honestly, I believe that we should only go to tracks one time. I feel like if you added an event here, you would probably risk the potential of not having sellout crowds because you could go to either one. There are obviously race tracks where I love racing at and wish I could race there more than once. I think for the growth of the sport and attendance, I feel like we should only race in a market once. Go to more places, go to more tracks.”

YOU KIND OF HAD A CHANGE FROM JULY TO LATE JULY AND EARLY AUGUST IN YOUR RACES. YOU DID WELL HERE LAST YEAR. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK AND THIS TIME OF YEAR THAT HELPS YOU MAKE THAT STRIDE?
“I just think that with these tracks that are worn out with an old surface, our team has a good setup for those places. You look at Atlanta, I led the most laps there. Chicago, we almost won. We led a ton of laps here last year. I was good at Homestead. It’s just something about these intermediate tracks that suit us. It’s just unique; you run close to the wall and I’m obviously comfortable with that. So, I just get excited about this place and look forward to it.”

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES, IF ANY, OF RUNNING DOUBLE DUTY NEXT WEEK WITH RUNNING THE MIDGET AND THE BRICKYARD 400?
“I don’t know, there aren’t any challenges really. We race Wednesday and Thursday, we aren’t even on the track until Saturday I don’t think in the Cup car. So, it’s not going to feel like double duty to me. I have a busy week coming up. I race the go-cart in California Monday and Tuesday, the midget Wednesday and Thursday, and on track Saturday and Sunday in the Cup car. It won’t feel like triple duty, or whatever you want to call it. But having the day off will be nice and not being in multiple cars on the same day will be relaxing. I enjoy double duty. I haven’t gotten to do any double duty NASCAR stuff this year. I did double duty on my off week at Placerville with the midget and sprint car. That was fun, but hectic just because it’s all happening within a few hours. Next week will be fun and not too crazy.”

I KNOW YOU MENTIONED THE SHOWCASE AND THAT WAS KIND OF WHAT KEPT YOU FROM THE BC 39 RACE LAST YEAR. WHAT DID YOU ADJUST TO MAKE IT ALL WORK THIS YEAR AND WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THE MIDGET RACE THURSDAY NIGHT?
“I didn’t adjust anything. Last year, I was just worried about getting done late at Chico and trying to catch a 5:30 AM or 6:00 AM flight to Indianapolis. I think I land at like 3:40 PM on Wednesday, so if there are any hiccups in flight delays or anything like that, that’s where I could risk missing the race. Last year, I went to Oregon and raced the sprint car. I saw how cool the BC 39 race was last year, so I didn’t want to miss it and do everything I could to make it. We’re just going to do it and if there is a flight delay, then oh well.”

AS A PART OF A GENERATION THAT SAW JIMMIE JOHNSON DOMINATE THE SPORT AND THE 48 TEAM NOT BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING WRONG FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, TO SEE THE STRUGGLE THAT ADMITTEDLY A LOT OF ATHLETES GO THROUGH AT THE END OF THEIR CAREERS, WHAT IS THAT LIKE FOR YOUR GENERATION TO SEE SOMEONE LIKE THAT FIGHTING TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
“It’s weird to see. When you are watching somebody like that dominate, you never expect to see them in this position, being winless for as long as he’s been, at risk of not making the Playoffs and having a chance to win the Championship. Obviously, I’m a huge Jimmie Johnson fan. I want to see him either run well these next two races to get himself in a better points position or win. I would like to see him just win to shut everyone up, I guess. It is crazy and I think it just shows how tough our sport gets, how tough our drivers are, how close our equipment is, and how good of a combination him and Chad (Knaus) really were. Hopefully they can figure something out and finish up front where he belongs.”

I KNOW YOU’RE FAR AWAY FROM HAVING TO MAKE A DECISION ON WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO WITH YOUR CAREER, BUT OBVIOUSLY AT THE END OF JEFF GORDON’S CAREER, IT WAS MORE CHALLENGING TO WIN. AT THIS LEVEL, JIMMIE JOHNSON IS GOING THROUGH THAT. WHEN YOU SEE EVEN THE GREATS OF THE SPORT GO THROUGH THAT, WHAT DOES THAT MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT OR WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER IN KNOWING THAT, AT SOME POINT, THAT IS GOING TO BE YOUR FUTURE?
“Yeah, I mean you see it all the time. Look at Steve Kinser, the greatest sprint car racer ever, and to watch him go through his struggles his last few seasons was honestly sad. It’s hard to predict and probably hard to convince yourself that maybe it’s time to retire whenever it is that time, but hopefully a long time from now whenever I have those thoughts in my head, I choose the right time to which I’m still competitive. I would like to retire when I’m still competitive, that way you don’t go through those down moments. I think it’s just hard for anybody to figure out when that time is, rather than have other people try to convince you. I think you want to be able to do it on your own terms. Our egos as drivers are big too, so we always believe we can win. It doesn’t matter how old you get or even after a string of 100 bad races, you still think you can go out there and win. So, I think that’s also what makes it tough for some people to know when the time is right.”

YOU DROVE A DYNAMITE RACE HERE LAST YEAR. LOOKING BACK AT IT, WHAT COULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LEARNED FROM LAST YEAR TO CLOSE IT OUT AND GET THE WIN IF YOU RUN THAT WAY THIS WEEKEND?
“We had the best car all race long last year. Brad Keselowski’s team just did a little better job than us on pit road that final stop and beat me off pit road by a foot or whatever it was. With not a lot of laps left, which I was really good on the long runs, we didn’t have enough laps for me to get anything going. I don’t think there is anything I could have done differently there at that point. I felt like I ran a really good race, took care of my stuff, kept out of the wall. We had a car capable of winning. We honestly didn’t have a bad pit stop at that time; Keselowski’s team was just really good. He was able to control the restart and control the last little run.”

HOW MUCH GROWTH HAVE YOU SEEN FROM CARSON MACEDO SINCE HE CAME INTO YOUR SPRINT CAR PROGRAM?
“Yeah, I’ve been extremely happy with Carson (Macedo) and the team. They have been doing a good job. He’s done honestly better than I thought he would do as a rookie on the World of Outlaw tour. Winning a few times on the road at a lot of these places that he’s never been to before is really cool. There is still a lot of racing to do, so hopefully he can get himself a few more. I don’t know how the points look, I think Shane Stewart is close behind him, but hopefully he can at least stay where he’s at.”

I TALKED TO JEFF GORDON ABOUT DAVID GRAVEL. YOU SAW THE KIND OF SUPPORT HE GAVE HIM DURING THE KNOXVILLE NATIONALS. I ASKED HIM WHAT HE THOUGHT THAT LEVEL WOULD GO TO AND HE SAID THAT AT HIS AGE, IT’S PROBABLY TOO LATE FOR HIM TO DO ANYTHING ALONG THE LINES OF WHAT YOU’RE DOING, BUT HE DOES FORESEE HIM GETTING INTO A TRUCK. HOW DO YOU THINK HE WOULD TRANSITION IF HE WAS TRYING TO GO FROM THE WORLD OF OUTLAWS TO STOCK CARS, GIVEN THE FACT THAT HE, RYAN PREECE AND JOEY LOGANO ALL GREW UP TOGETHER?
“I thought what Jeff (Gordon) and David (Gravel) were able to do together for Knoxville was awesome. Hopefully that can grow into something because that’s good for the sport. I hate to hear Jeff (Gordon) say that he’s too old to make it because obviously he has the talent. There aren’t a lot of people that have won the Knoxville Nationals and won as many Outlaw races that he has at our age. I feel like if you’re good, you should get the chance to race. He’s got more talent and deserves a better opportunity than just the Truck Series alone. I hope it can grow to that where he can at least get some starts in a Truck. You never know what could happen if he goes out there and starts winning races like I know he would. I honestly think he would do better in a Cup or Xfinity car than a Truck. A Truck is way different than what a sprint car feels like; Xfinity or Cup is a little closer to it because you’re sliding around and you have more horsepower. Jeff (Gordon) has big dollars, so maybe he could invest. We talk about Jimmie (Johnson) retiring in the future, maybe David Gravel will be that guy.”

COULD YOU IMAGINE MAKING THAT TRANSITION AT YOUR AGE NOW COMPARED TO BACK THEN WHEN YOU DID?
“I think it would be easier to make the transition because you have more experience now than what we would have when we were 18 years old. I think the transition would go smoother and I think owners need to look at that rather than just thinking they need the next teenager.”

Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.

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