Kyle Larson takes Dover near-miss in stride
Once again, a dominant day didn’t end in Victory Lane for Kyle Larson.
But in finishing second Sunday at Dover International Speedway, Larson wasn’t perturbed with the result after losing the lead on pit road to eventual winner Alex Bowman.
“I honestly don’t know if there was anything I could have done differently to win the race after we came out second on pit road,” said Larson, who was beaten out of the pits by Bowman during the Lap 303 caution.
“I would choose the top behind him, get to second every time. Maybe I could have chose the bottom on restart, but I still don’t think I would have stayed with him until he was inside or anything like that. Probably would have fell back to third or so.”
Larson still made some history as part of Hendrick Motorsports’ first 1-2-3-4 finish in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
The result was most certainly earned. On Sunday, the Hendrick drivers first assumed the top four on Lap 204 when Bowman passed Denny Hamlin for fourth. They stayed inside the top four for all but 22 of the remaining green flag laps.
Perhaps that’s why Larson was more gracious in defeat as opposed to two weeks ago at Kansas, where he also led the most laps but lost the win through a rash of late restarts and a run-in with Ryan Blaney.
Larson rebounded from Kansas with a second-place finish last week at Darlington after winner Martin Truex Jr. absorbed a late push from him.
“I feel like we maximized our day,” Larson said Sunday. “We were all so equal. I think any of the four of us could have been out in the lead. That person probably would have won. Just, yeah, we were all equal.
"(The No. 48) pit crew did an awesome job. Our pit crew has been amazing all year, too. Like I said, I’m not disappointed or upset about this second because I feel like there wasn’t anything else I could do.”
With Bowman’s win, Hendrick Motorsports is one win away from tying Petty Enterprises for most Cup wins all-time with 268.
Larson, who joined HMS this season, gave the organization win No. 265 in March at Las Vegas.
When asked if there’s more motivation with being on the verge of tying the record, Larson said it will be “business as usual” but acknowledged what it means to the organization.
“We all know that milestone is out in front of us,” he said. “We know that it’s really important to (Rick Hendrick). He mentions it almost every time I feel like I talk to him.
“I hope we can get there quickly. I hope I’m the driver to do it and break that record whenever we get to it.”
HMS’ 1-2-3-4 finish is another sign that they’ve returned to form after years of being off the pace. With four fast twenty-somethings - Larson, Bowman, reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott and William Byron - the organization may be set for another extended run of glory.
On that front, Larson noted Sunday how HMS president Marshall Carlson has talked about never seeing the organization more excited to go racing.
That’s a surprise to Larson. But it’s a happy one.
“I find that crazy to think because you look at all the races that Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, they’ve had multiple, like, powerhouse drivers at one time on their team,” he said.
“For them to be saying this is the most excited they’ve ever been is pretty unreal to me when we’ve got four young guys in the sport who haven’t really won many races, when you really think about it, compared to the guys that used to be there before us.
“I think maybe he’s saying a little bit of the future is what gets everybody really excited there. Yeah, just an awesome day for the organization. Glad I could be a part of it.”