Second again for Kyle Larson: "This one sucks"

Kyle Larson finished second – again – but this time it did come with an added bonus.

Second again for Kyle Larson: "This one sucks"
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Larson appeared to be in the best position to capitalize on a late-race caution and was the first driver to line up with fresh tires at the start of the two-lap NASCAR overtime in Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. all stayed out and Larson lined up fourth on the restart. Entering Turn 1, Larson got to racing hard side-by-side with Stenhouse, which allowed Newman to break away with a lead.

On his two new tires, Larson was able to clear Stenhouse but couldn’t close the gap to Newman. Larson has now finished second in his third consecutive race and the fourth time in the last five races.

“I knew I was sitting in the best spot there. I thought I was clear of (Stenhouse) and my spotter said ‘clear’ for a quick second and he maybe drove in a little harder than I anticipated,” Larson said. “He was there and I got sideways and it killed our run and allowed (Newman) to get away.

“This one sucks.”

Leading the championship

Larson did get a bonus with his runner-up finish – he took over the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points lead. It’s the first time a Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the series standings at this point in the season since Sterling Marlin in 2002 (McMurray also led in 2010 after Daytona 500 win as part of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing).

“That makes us really happy. I am super-proud of everybody in the race shop,” Larson said as his team owner stopped by to offer his congratulations. “They are the ones working so hard, day and night, to build fast race cars and make sure were not having any parts failures.

“It makes mine and Jamie (McMurray’s) jobs a lot of fun. Really, they are reason we are running as well as we are right now. I can’t say enough about everybody at our race shop and what they have been doing.”

Sudden improvement in performance

Ganassi said the improved performance since last season has been a long process, not something that simply changed over the offseason.

“There has been the addition of a couple (new) people, the placement of a person here and the placement of a person there – it doesn’t take much with these teams to take you either way,” he said. “The change can take you good or take you bad pretty quickly.

“These teams are a delicate balance of people and partners and sponsors. It’s a very delicate balance and we’ve been working hard for a very long, long time to get that right balance.

“We feel like we’re right there now.”

And Ganassi added that Larson leading the series points was an important accomplishment.

“First time since Sterling Marlin, now that’s a big deal,” he said.

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