CHEVROLET NCS AT DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY – Kyle Larson Media Availability Quotes

The 40 years of Hendrick Motorsports, this plays a big role in its history. How important is that to you? Done so many great things over the 40 years. 

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, no, it definitely means a lot to feel like you’ve got a decent spot in the massive history that Hendrick Motorsports has. I think 17 wins, a couple All-Star wins and a championship is pretty good in just a few seasons together. 

But yeah, that doesn’t mean a whole lot either because there’s still a lot more that we want to hopefully accomplish down the road. 

To this point it’s definitely really cool and great to be part of Hendrick Motorsports in an historic season coming up.

Q. One of the great things that you have done is sweep the front row so often for the Daytona 500. How mind-boggling is that?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy for sure. Even through different generations of vehicles and everything, it’s like they have a trick or two figured out to qualify faster. 

Yeah, I’m excited about qualifying. I know we’ll have a good shot I think at the pole. Hopefully get to celebrate with the guys.

Q. (Question about not winning the 500.)

KYLE LARSON: I think I feel like we do a good job, for one. I think looking at the results on paper, we suck. Yeah, I really feel like I’m just like a small decision away from making the right move and putting myself in the right spot there at the very end. 

I feel like I do a good job of getting us to that point where so many times on the final restart we’re lined up on the first, second row, then I finish 28th. DNF, crashed, end up in the care center. 

Every circumstance is different, right? I feel like we’re not far off from being really successful here. Just got to keep getting after it. 

Q. Are there 500s in particular that you look at that you can say that one got away or one small decision and… 

KYLE LARSON: I think, yeah, I look at last year. I think I had that big run on Ricky. The 20 was pushing behind me. I just felt like that run I had was way too big to, like, stay behind Ricky because I would have just slammed him and probably caused a crash. I thought safe bet was to go to the middle. Nobody was able to go with me. Then I got somebody from outside me that got hooked and I got crashed. 

It’s like if I can just – I don’t know – just kind of at times be more patient but at times I think you need to be more aggressive as well. I think there’s times where I’m, like, half a step behind. 

Yeah, I think last year maybe it definitely got away from me. At least a better finish. Then 2017 I was leading at the white flag and ran out of fuel. That was a big bummer. 

Q. I was reading a headline yesterday, the point they were trying to make is you made 10 starts in this race. We don’t think of you being particularly old or even mid career at all. Is there a part of you that says I got to try to get on this?

KYLE LARSON: No, no. I mean, I try every year, so… 

I mean, obviously I want to win this race really bad, just as bad as everybody does here on the property. Yeah, I’ve always accomplished a lot of good things in my career. I’m not anywhere close to being done. Whenever I am done, if I haven’t won this race, I don’t think I’m going to lose sleep at night. 

So, yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I love coming here. I love trying to win it. You want to win the big ones. It doesn’t get any bigger than this one for the NASCAR schedule. We’ll keep trying.

Q. To add the Daytona 500, have the Triple Crown, what would that mean for yourself?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I think for my NASCAR career, I want to win a lot more races. I’ve only won 20-ish races. So yeah, I want to win a lot more of ’em. I want to win the big ones, as well. 

I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of big ones. The Daytona 500, now that we’re going back to the Brickyard 400, those are the two that for me are next that I want to win. 

Hopefully I feel like this is a great opportunity for us this weekend and would be amazing to win the Daytona 500, get the opportunity again to race at the Brickyard 400 later in year and try to win that one. 

The good thing with Hendrick Motorsports is you know you’re going to have a good shot to win every time you show up at the track. 

Q. (Question about Hendrick not winning in a while.)

KYLE LARSON: No, at least in the few years I’ve been at Hendrick, Rick has mentioned it every year, that it’s been this many years since we’ve won. 

Yeah, I mean, like he’s not there adding any pressure. Yeah, I don’t know, it’s been 10 years, 2014 or something. So, yeah, we all know that. I mean, we want to win. 

It doesn’t add any pressure either at the same time.

Q. In the last 10 years since Dale won the 500, all four of you at Hendrick Motorsports currently have won the pole. You’ve done it more than once. Does that focus on qualifying, anything that affects you on race day that may take away from race performance or detract from your shot to win?

KYLE LARSON: I think maybe with the previous generation car, it might have some. I don’t think with the Next Gen car, because you’re not building your bodies, right? You’re just buying parts and pieces and putting them on the car, fluffing a few tricks in it to go fast. That’s all stuff you can get out after the Duels. 

I don’t foresee any reason why we can’t qualify on the pole and have the best race car in the field on Sunday. I don’t build the cars, though, so I don’t know either. I’m pretty sure that these days, you can get everything back into that you want for Sunday. 

Q. What does winning the Daytona 500 tell you about the driver?

KYLE LARSON: Tell me about the driver? I don’t know. I’m not sure. That it was their day, I guess. I don’t know. I mean, in the past I would say I used to think that this race was more luck than skill. As I’ve gotten older and really studied more, the same guys are always up front. A lot of the same guys win this race. They’re not luckier than anybody. They’re just really talented when it comes to this style. They’ve got a good sense of how things work, where to be at the right time. 

For sure it takes some luck, as it does every race. Yeah, no, I don’t know, I don’t really know what it says about anybody. 

Q. Denny says he’s going to race more selfishly this year. Is that possible? 

KYLE LARSON: Netflix must have been around still… 

No, yeah, I don’t know. I mean, we all race selfishly out there. I mean, he’s the only one in his race car. I’m the only one in my race car. We’re all selfish out there. 

I don’t know. I don’t mean this negatively. I don’t see how he can change his driving style to be more selfish. We’re all selfish. We all want to win for our teams. 

I think Denny is really good at, like, being dramatic and building our sport up well, bringing some drama to it. I think that’s good. 

Q. Unselfishly, Ryan Blaney, do you have a relationship with him?

KYLE LARSON: Unselfishly?

Q. Were you happy with his success last year?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I’m not like close with him. At least when I started racing stockcars, there’s a lot of us in the Cup Series now that raced with each other in 2012 when I came in. 

Yeah, I mean, I was not upset to see him win the championship. I wanted to win the championship, but… No, I mean, I’m not close with Ryan. Like, I’m a huge Blaney fan. His dad and uncle I’ve gotten to race with on the sprint car side of things. His grandpa, I never got to see him race or anything, but I’ve heard he’s like an extremely talented driver, very Hall-of-Fame style career. 

The Blaney name is probably one of the most successful last names in auto racing, at least in America. I was happy for him to win that championship because it just adds to the Blaney legacy. 

Q. Because so much of this race is a chess match, when you’re on the flight home after the Daytona 500, can you help but not replay some of those moves over in your head?

KYLE LARSON: I mean, every race. Every race you run, some sort of a chess game, right? We go to Kansas, which is a cookie cutter mile-and-a-half, it’s not any more or less of a chess match than Daytona, in my opinion. 

There’s always moves every week you make that are, Man, I could have did that a little differently. That really helped me win the race, get that extra spot, whatever it may be. Same goes for here. 

Yeah, every flight home is spent thinking. It’s typically hard to fall asleep that night that you race just because your mind is still running about things you did good or things you could do better.

Q. Talking to alot of the guys around here, your name came out of nowhere, you’re the best. For you, what does that mean? What do you think you do well that propels you to the top of the sport right now?

KYLE LARSON: I appreciate hearing that, for sure. When your peers are talking highly of you, it definitely means a lot. 

I think for me, though, what makes me stand out is I race a lot of other types of cars. I race more than just NASCAR stuff. I think I’m just out there racing a lot and I am fortunate to be racing with great car owners and crew chiefs that I can have success in everything that I run. Yeah, that helps. 

No, it’s cool hearing that.

Q. This time last year, you were testing in an INDYCAR as you were approaching the Daytona 500. Where is your mind? Is your mindset any different versus this time last year?

KYLE LARSON: I don’t think so. I think everybody would assume that it should be different and stressful and more unfocused, I guess. 

For me, my schedule always stays pretty hectic. I always race about a hundred races a year. It really doesn’t feel much different to me at this point. I don’t think too far ahead either. 

I’ve done a shit ton of these media availabilities since last year. I think everybody assumes I should be thinking about the Indy 500 every single waking moment of my life. I’ve got way too much other stuff going on to get too far ahead of myself. 

I really just get focused on whatever is the next thing in front of me. Right now it’s the Daytona 500. That’s all I care about right now. Then when I get through this race, I’m racing dirt stuff next week. That’s what I’m going to care about till I get done with that. I’m going to be focused on Atlanta, as well. 

My mind, it’s really hard for me to look more than days in front of me. 

Q. What is it about this race that makes it so special to you and so many other drivers?

KYLE LARSON: Well, I mean, what they’ve built this event into, they continue to make it bigger and better every year, it’s just a prestigious event. The purse, trophy, the crowd, the atmosphere here is unmatched for our schedule. All of those combined make for an event that you want to win. 

There’s been so many Hall of Famers that have won this race or guys who this race made their career as a Hall-of-Fame career. Yeah, I think knowing all that makes you want to win it. Hopefully someday I can add my name to the winners’ list.

Q. First thing on the schedule is getting pole. That’s very important to Mr. Hendrick. Do you have internally a competition going? Or just go out there and focus on it?

KYLE LARSON: I mean, I can’t speak for the teams because I’m just the driver. Like, I’m not in the shop every day. I’m not building the cars or anything. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if the mechanics kind of have not even side bets but bragging rights like when you get the pole. I don’t know. I’d have to ask Cliff. 

I think all four teams are professional, too. They might not either. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some little bragging rights, but at the same time I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.

Q. It’s still nice to rib your friends if you’re the one that continues that legacy. 

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of the flipside. I know when I got the pole here a couple years ago, Bowman was second, he was like, Ha-ha, you have to do all the media. Last year he got the pole, I got second, and I was laughing at him. 

I think on that side of things, I’m sure the drivers can poke a little fun.

Q. How would you grade the coming out party of the newly named High Limit? Now it’s a little different ballgame given the expanded schedule and all that. How would you grade the first weekend or week?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I thought it went really good. I tried to follow along with the broadcast as much as I could throughout the night, watching heat races and stuff, races that I wasn’t in, just so I could listen to how that was all going. 

I thought Chase did a really good job. Tony LaPorta did a great job. I loved the DJ playlist that Jacob Allen had. I thought the night ran efficiently. We ran half of Monday’s program, had a quick turnaround on the track, ran a great program the rest of the night with an awesome surface and awesome race. 

A good start. But I’m not surprised either that it was a good start. Everybody that we have at High Limit has a ton of experience and are really, really good at what they do. I think it was a great start and great to build on something. We’re just going to continue to make things bigger and better from here on out.

Q. Looking ahead to Atlanta, since they changed the configuration of the track, the new car, it’s been a struggle for you. Why is that? 

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like Daytona and Talladega we don’t finish well, but we’re up front at the end of the races. Atlanta, I don’t even know if I’ve finished a race there since they reconfigured it. I feel like I typically crash out early in those ones. 

I don’t know. I hate to blame other people and other things, but I feel like I get spun off of people’s front bumpers more often than not at that track. 

I’m not sure. I’m not sure if it’s something I’m doing behind the wheel either.

Q. Last year and maybe the year before, you mentioned how at these types of tracks, you don’t have the confidence to make a move to the middle. Seems like last year you did. Has that confidence come about?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I think I have a little bit better understanding. I feel like these Next Gen cars are a little bit more straightforward as far as the way you draft and stuff. That makes things a little simpler. 

Yeah, no, I feel like we do a really good job. I feel like I’m just one small decision away from making the right decision. Like last year, going to the middle, that’s confidence, but that was the wrong move. Then I got crashed 500 yards later. 

Yeah, just making better decisions. Keep putting ourselves in position, but then making better decisions there the last couple laps. 

Q. You talk about racing on different surfaces. How do you think that really helps you hone in on the skill? What is important to all those different types of racing?

KYLE LARSON: I think being in racing situations. Even when you’re not in the same type of vehicle, you’re still putting yourself in racing situations. Your reaction times are staying sharp, all this and that. 

Especially like when you can get comfortable in a sprint car, you can get comfortable in most things I feel like. They’re 950 horsepower, 1400 pounds. They blow the rear tires off of them. They want to throw the front end off the ground. They want to hurt you. I think when you can get comfortable in that, it kind of slows things down for the other types of racing that I do, which I good. 

Yeah, I really think it’s a great tool for me. I’m glad that Hendrick Motorsports believes that it’s a tool, as well, because I think it definitely makes me who I am and as successful as we can be on Sundays, the most important piece.

Q. On that pure racer concept, is there an extra sense of relaxation when you can come into a 500 week like you have the last couple years off of racing a sprint car and winning?

KYLE LARSON: Sure, it doesn’t hurt to come off a win. At the same point, I don’t know if it matters either. It’s just nice to get racing a little bit before we get our season started. There’s a lot of these guys that maybe only run the Clash. I’ve probably ran 10 races or so this off- season. I don’t think that hurts by any means. That’s why I do it. That’s why I like to stay active. 

Q. From a business perspective, what is the process for you as far as building High Limit? Kind of looking at that process it seems like you maybe are trying to pull in some elements from the NASCAR side maybe to help out sprint car racing. 

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, we’re kind of looking at the way we do things from all directions. I mean, sprint car racing is a great product. World of Outlaws, they’ve done a super good job of building the sport to where it’s at. 

It also takes fresh thoughts and ideas to get things to the next level, and that’s what we’re trying to do. That obviously takes a lot of money though, as well. Trying to get all that to come together is difficult at times. 

We have big ideas. It’s just going to take time. You can’t do everything, like, overnight like I would like. I think we’re all impatient, especially when you start something new. I think if you can be patient, slowly build into things, you can build something that’s really strong.

Q. There are people that might look at High Limit and say it’s going to be a flash in the pan. I get the sense that you intend for it to be around for the long-term. 

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have the thought that we could continue to do this until I’m dead. 

Yeah, too, we’re not trying to kill off the Outlaws. I think that’s what fans might think. We’ve proven already there’s room for two national series. Fans thought you were going to take the Outlaw drivers and split them in half. With our business model, we’ve been able to attract a lot of other teams to travel. 

We had 58 cars at East Bay, Tampa, Florida, in February. I would have never thought we would have 58 sprint cars or 17 or 18, whatever you have, full-time traveling teams signed up right now. They obviously believe in us. 

I think fans have their opinions, as we all do. They’ll see. I think they got to see a lot last night. I think the night went really good. I think the broadcast went great. That’s only been two races. 

It’s going to come over time.

Q. How involved will you be able to be in and around everything you have to do on the Cup side? From a business and ops perspective… 

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I feel like a good bit. I’m there during the week. We get on calls and stuff or text chains, all this and that. 

I’m not, like, super involved because I’m not there every day living it. I’m not there on the weekends at every High Limit race. I don’t want to be that annoying guy getting too involved either. 

Q. You have Hess for that. 

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, this is his baby in a way. Same with Brad, Kendra, Brian Walker, J.P. I would say those are the core people building it. I’m there, as well. 

Yeah, I think everybody understands I’ve got way more going on that I can’t devote as much time as they can do it.

Q. I don’t know if ‘responsibility’ is the right word, but is there a responsibility to help grow the sport, this is what you love to do, this is who you are, but is there another part of you that looks at it from the aspect of being the Pied Piper for motorsports?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, no, I mean, there’s been so many people before me to get to this level. I think, yeah, I definitely look at it at times — not at times, but that for sure is a part of why I feel like I have a responsibility to grow this sport that I’m passionate about. 

Tony came and did his time, grew sprint car racing I think, dirt racing a lot. He’s kind of moved on to different ventures over the last handful of years. Now he presented a great opportunity for me to kind of take over the reins a little bit. That’s a huge honor. 

I feel like, too, with my youth and where I’m at in my career, really in the prime of my career right now, relationships I built, all that, I think I’m confident that we can grow it. I want to see it grow to the magnitude that I think it can get to someday. 

Yeah, I guess I just see the opportunity there, and I as well as the people on our team are ambitious enough to try and get it to that level. 

Q. All the things you do, you don’t do it unless you can succeed. When people talk about the double, obviously winning is the challenging. You’re going to go to go win the race. The idea of winning both, is that how you look at it, or… 

KYLE LARSON: I mean, I wouldn’t have signed up to do it if I didn’t think that I could. But I’m not also sitting here saying I’m going to win the Indy 500. I could run worse than 20th all race long and not be surprised at all. It would be hard for anybody to just come into a foreign type of race car, foreign race procedures and everything that comes along with it and win. 

I guess the thing that I know is I know I’m with a great team. I know I’ve got a couple weeks of practice that will translate some to the race. I’ve got great teammates. I have Kanaan to talk to, a guy who has won the race. I have all these resources that are going to help prepare me. 

I definitely think that I would like to think that I could win, but I think there’s a better chance of me not winning I guess, too. 

I really just want to finish the laps, enjoy the experience, gain the experience. No matter what the result is, I know I’m going to come out of it a better, more well-rounded driver. 

I think just getting to see how a different form motorsport, professional form of motorsport operates, how their prep work is, all that, driving a different car, getting used to pulling the trigger and passing somebody at 220 miles an hour into turn one, there’s the opportunity for me to cross through a different threshold of confidence after that. 

Q. You finished first and second at Vegas last year. What is it about that track that you like so well, that makes you so good at it?

KYLE LARSON: It’s a mile-and-a-half, progressive bank, got some bumps, slick, you run the wall, bottom, middle. Kind of all that suits me. Like it’s not a place where you get stuck to one line. If you’re faster than somebody, you can move around, pass them. If you’re struggling, you can move around, find some speed. 

Hendrick Motorsports is just really good on mile-and-a-half’s. They have a good package there, gets through the bumps really good. I think that’s especially what makes the car faster.

Q. After you win the championship, the opportunities, like what Ryan Blaney will now get the opportunity to do, what are the opportunities for the champion? What are the responsibilities?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, that’s a good question. 

I mean, I don’t know. I feel like Ryan and I are somewhat similar. We’re not that outspoken within the group of drivers. Oh, we need to really push for this within the series, stuff like that. 

Even after I won the championship, I’m still just as quiet in those meetings as I used to be. Ryan was always quiet, as well. I guess when we have meetings like that, I’m curious to see if he’s got any more confidence in him. He’s just an easygoing guy, so I don’t see that. 

There’s still responsibility, like, as far as conducting yourself probably even to more of a championship level, champion’s level. 

As far as, like, opportunities and stuff, I don’t remember having many. It was still kind of coming out of COVID, all that. I think it’s different now. They did their little New York swing, all that. I didn’t do any of that, from what I remember. Again, like I said, I’m not saying that negatively. I think that’s the way the times were in 2020 and ’21. 

Q. Is it confidence or… 

KYLE LARSON: I’m just an introverted person. I feel like Ryan is, as well. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, they’re not, they’re more outspoken. 

Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know. 

Q. Your experiences, your voice… 

KYLE LARSON: Michael McDowell at this point hasn’t been close to winning a championship, but in those meetings he’s a guy that you listen to. He’s been around a long time, experienced, he’s a confident person. 

To me it doesn’t matter the success you have on the track. It shouldn’t. It shouldn’t matter because you’ve won a championship your voice carries more weight. Maybe that’s what I’m getting at. 

Q. As solid as you are in anything that you get to, did you feel a boost of confidence after winning the title?

KYLE LARSON: I don’t remember. It’s been too long. Need to win another one. 

Q. What do you do you during rain delays?

KYLE LARSON: Depends how long the rain delay is going to be. Hmmm… I mean, we sit there with a lot of rain delays at Daytona. I’m thinking about what we’ve done in Daytona. I know we’ve gotten Chipotle before. Used to have an XBOX, used to play that some. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve watched like Disney movies during rain delay. Just kind of do whatever.

Q. Eat a burrito and have to get back. 

KYLE LARSON: I was bummed one time. I don’t even know if it was a rain delay. Like, Katelyn and Laura, they were having a taco night. They were all drinking margaritas and stuff. I wanted one so bad, but I had to go race so I couldn’t do that.