Kyle Larson Falls Short In Kansas, Misses Round Of 8 In The NASCAR Playoffsby Nicole Hetrick October 23, 2018 0 comments
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – As the checkered flag waved in the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Kyle Larson’s 2018 hopes at a championship were gone. Finishing third was not enough. Larson had to win the race to advance to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs.
Larson finished 12th, 11th and 3rd and only scored one Playoff point in the Round of 12. He knew what he had to do, but he just didn’t have what it took in the remaining laps to pass Kyle Busch and race winner, Chase Elliott.
“If I could have stayed second with the line that the No. 9 (Chase Elliott) was running there at the end I could have done something with it,” Larson said. “I felt like our balance was really good there at the end. Wish I could have done something there, but Chase (Elliott) ran a good race up front and you know Kyle (Busch) never makes mistakes as well, so hard to beat those guys.”
With the playoff format, points are crucial to acquire, both throughout the season and especially during the NASCAR Playoff rounds.
“Stage points are so important,” Larson said when asked about the intensity and pressure that comes along with the format. “That’s just kind of where us as a team weren’t able to get really any stage points. We didn’t have any stage points until today. Can’t really expect to make it to the next round without being up front all race long. So that’s just kind of where our round went wrong.”
Larson hasn’t had things go his way during the NASCAR Playoffs in the past.
“I’m actually glad that nothing stupid took us out of the Playoffs this year,” Larson said. “We had that battery come out at Dover a couple years ago. Blew up an engine here (Kansas) last year. I would have liked to have made it to the next round. But I’m glad it wasn’t anything other than just us not performing where we needed to be that kept us out of the next round.”
Despite missing out on the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Playoffs, Larson’s 2018 season was not his worst. He has led a total of 737 laps through 32 of 36 races this season, and he has only three DNFs. Although he doesn’t have a win yet this season, Larson remains optimistic.
“We will see how it goes,” Larson said. “Try to finish out the year strong for everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing and would like to get a win, got some good tracks coming up especially Homestead.”
The remaining tracks on the schedule include Martinsville Speedway this weekend, followed by Texas Motor Speedway, ISM Raceway (Phoenix) and Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. Homestead poses the best chance for Larson to finish the season with a win. His average finish of 5.8 is his best of the 25 tracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
“It’s been a good season, up and down at times.” Larson said when asked what he can take from the experience, especially following Talladega when he had some constructive criticism for his team. “Just have to keep working hard. You know the package is way different for next year too, so don’t really know how anybody will be until we get to Atlanta I guess, next year.”
The first race of the Round of 8 will be held at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. Live coverage of the First Data 500 will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 28.
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