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Larson glad he didn’t turn Kenseth, heartened by better runs in 2016

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 Drive for Autism

DOVER, DE - MAY 15: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, leads Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway on May 15, 2016 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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Kyle Larson is still replaying Sunday’s final laps at Dover through his mind.

But each time he does, he comes to the same conclusion: He made the right call in not trying to turn Matt Kenseth, who went on to win while Larson finished runner-up.

It was Larson’s best finish in a Sprint Cup race since his rookie season in 2014.

“I felt like I did everything I could do to get by (Kenseth) without getting into him,” Larson said during a break in Tuesday’s Goodyear tire test at Michigan International Speedway.

“I did have a couple chances to get into him, but that’s not really how I want to win my first one (Sprint Cup race),” Larson said. “I want to do it the right way. I don’t regret it (not turning Kenseth). Maybe it’ll come back to haunt me, but you never know.”

Another reason why Larson didn’t turn Kenseth is in the big scheme of things he’s seen marked improvement in the No. 42 team.

“Our team’s been getting a lot better over the last three weeks or so,” Larson said. “It’s starting to turn into a lot of fun again.

“I was not having much fun last year and the start of this year. To get in front and see the gains we’ve made makes me feel pretty proud, to see how hard everyone’s been working and it’s starting to pay off recently.”

Gains are also coming from Larson, as well.

“I definitely feel I’m a smarter racer now, a better race car driver,” he said. “Our cars just haven’t been quite as fast as they were in 2014. We’ve fallen behind a little bit on building the bodies the way they need to be and maybe the chassis stuff a little bit.”

Consistency has also been an issue, one that has been ongoing for quite some time, Larson said.

“Consistency is always extremely important and that’s been a major thing the 42 team has struggled with a long time, even before I got here,” Larson said. “(Predecessor Juan Pablo Montoya) had a lot of good runs and bad runs, peaks and valleys, and I’ve seemed to be the same way.

“I don’t know if there’s a curse. I know I have less of a curse than Martin Truex Jr. does, but I’d say I’m the next guy behind him for bad luck. I don’t know what we both have to do to change that.”

But if Larson keeps racing like he did at Dover, it’s likely the consistency issue may soon start taking care of itself.

Follow @JerryBonkowski