CHEVROLET NCS AT COTA: Kyle Larson Media Availability Quotes

KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1, met with the media in advance of racing double duty in the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Race at Circuit of The Americas.

Media Availability Quotes:

How do you expect the car to react at the road courses? Tyler Reddick said you can’t bring what you brought last year and expect it to still do the same thing. Are you anticipating the car handling any differently with the package this year than it did a year ago?

“I have no idea, so yeah I don’t really know how to answer that.. other than I just assume with another year that the team has gotten smarter and better about setups, that our car is going to be driving better. Just like it did from 2022 to 2023, it drove better even though we had less downforce, I guess, last year. Now that we have more downforce, I would hope that the braking zones would be a little bit more comfortable. I remember last year being really uncomfortable in the brake zones.. a lot of us were. But then like through the corners, my car handled better. So now I’m hoping that the brake zones will be a little bit more comfortable, and then our car setup will be good through the corners and stuff, too. Wishful thinking, so we’ll see when we get out on the track tomorrow.”

You’ve got a win under your belt, so your season is obviously going pretty well. What is your forecast for some of the upcoming tracks like Richmond and things. What are focusing on as you get ready for Indy and other stuff you have going on the sidelines?

“Yeah, I don’t know. I never try to look too far out in front. Yeah, I mean I don’t even know what race is after Richmond, honestly. So yeah, I mean these two weeks, I guess, is all I’m really looking at. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, just because I want to get better here. And it’s the first road course of the year, so it’s different and it’s fun. Studying all week and stuff like that is enjoyable.

But then yeah, I don’t know. We’re tied for the point lead right now, so we’ve been doing something right. But yeah, we’d just like to continue the consistent runs. Continue getting good stage points at every race track, or at least having a good shot at the end of the race too. Yeah, it’s just been a goal of mine, is to try and do a better job throughout the regular season. I know we’re only five races in, but it’s been going well, so far. Just have to keep it up.”

Do you find yourself having a little bit more time to focus on the Indy 500 and things like that, or have you even thought about that yet?

“I get asked that question every week (laughs).. what should I be doing?”

(No mic.)..

“I don’t know either.

I feel like to this point, I’m as prepared as I can be. I’m just to the point now where I need to get on track. We get on track in a few weeks, and then I’ll get to be able to think more about the Indy 500. But also, I can’t take focus off of the Cup Series because it’s not like this stuff comes easy to me. It takes a lot of work, so I also have to dedicate a lot of time to this if I want to be doing my team justice on Sunday’s, as well. I race a lot of stuff and I prepare the same for all of it, so Indy is no different. Like I’m not racing a sprint car for another month, but I’m not worried about right now, either. I’m worried about right now. Maybe that will hurt me when it comes to Indy, but I don’t think it will. I’m not changing my process.”

The Drivers Council have been in effect for a few years. What are your impressions on how its evolved?

“Yeah, that’s a good question. I think it’s evolved, for sure. I think even before the Drivers Council was ever established; I was a part of stuff.. some version of a Drivers Council like probably nine or more years ago. And just to see where it’s kind of come from since then has been promising. I feel like there’s way more open communication, trust amongst everybody.. all of that. I feel like we’re moving forward together a little bit, better than we used to. I mean it’s always been good. Even from its inception, I feel like it’s been decent. But I feel like now, there’s the trust level between everybody, which makes things a little bit nicer.”

Is there one thing you’d change in how this sport operates?

“No.. I mean I’m just a driver.”

How do you expect to tackle the new restart zone here at COTA? Also, your thoughts on going back to stage cautions?

“Yeah, I don’t know. I think we just have to see how the truck race plays out a little bit. But I would imagine the restart zone being to the final corner.. like when the leader takes off, the cars will still be kind of stuck going around that corner. So I believe, there should be less, kind of seven-wide, into turn one.. less divebombs, crashes and just craziness. Which is good, I think, because even fans last year were like, ‘this is kind of dumb’, right? Like we look like amateurs out there. So I think it will look a little bit more professional. I think you’re still going to have divebombs, for sure, but maybe not from four rows back. And then just shoving guys through the two rows in front of you. I think it’s going to be good. I think it’s going to be a nice compliment to what the drivers wanted, plus what everybody kind of needed, as far as just not crashing people.”

You mentioned how you’re tied for the point lead. When do you really begin to start looking at the regular season standings, as the regular season winds down?

“Daytona.. I don’t know if other people are the same way, but I think if you take your eyes off of it too much, then you can get a little careless and then you get further behind. I’ve always paid attention to the points every week, and I would say most people probably do, as well. It’s always on your mind, especially when there’s playoff points being given at the end of the regular season. I think that makes you more aware of where you’re at in the standings, even with the one win that we have and knowing that we’re locked-in or whatever. It’s what, like 15-points I think, to win the regular season, and then it drops by five. I mean that’s like a full race win, so yeah it’s important to have the best regular season that you can to benefit yourself through the playoffs.

In 2022 and 2023, yes we were pretty competitive, but we stumbled a lot in the regular season and didn’t finish very high in the regular season points, and then the playoffs were difficult where we were barely kind of squeaking by through some of the rounds. Ultimately at the (Charlotte) ROVAL in 2022, I missed it by three-points, where if I could have just finished a couple of spots in the regular season points, I would have made it through and racing in the Championship Four. So yeah, points are always on my mind. Maybe not necessarily during the race, but afterwards.”

Did you have a chance to see the onboard camera from Bristol last weekend that was floating around on social media? Did it feel like a real life video game when you were doing it, and would you ever want to participate in a race like that again?

“Yeah, I watched the three-and-a-half minute clip that I saw on Twitter. Honestly, it was crazier from my seat than even like Twitter or the onboard. Like when I watched the onboard, I was like ‘man, this doesn’t look as wild as it was out of my windshield’. It just felt like when I left pit road.. which I thought I was screwed, right? Like I was one of the first people to pit and I thought for sure there would be a caution, and I was like my race is over. So I’m kind of just like, I didn’t even try hard coming to pit road.. didn’t try hard leaving. I went out there and I’m just like driving around people, and I was like ‘man, maybe we’re going to get this whole cycle through’. It was just wild. I felt like I was passing the same guy like very five laps. It was just nuts. I mean I would be like passing somebody on the bottom, and then like turn right mid-corner and drive around that guy before exit. It was just weird.. it was just like those weird dreams that you would have, like it wasn’t real life.

It was fun. And don’t get me wrong, like I think a lot of people got me wrong last weekend and I didn’t probably show how much fun I had. But I was always smiling in all my post-race media stuff.. like I had a blast. I had a great time; it was just maybe I could have taken more time in explaining my comments like ‘I hope I don’t ever had to do this again’.. it was more that like, you couldn’t really manage your stuff. Yes, you could manage it three to seven more laps better, I guess, than some people. But it was just too short.. they were too short of little stints, I guess. If it was a little less extreme, we could kind of manage that throughout a little bit longer run. I would be all for that.

And two, I would have loved for it to like laid a little bit of rubber so you could kind of move around and still push and pay for it if you needed to because how it was then, we were just so stuck to the bottom.. I hate to nitpick it, but it could have been a little bit better. But it was still fun.. I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve never been in a race like that. I’ve been in sprint car races like that, but they are like 25 or 30 lap races. That was 500 laps of like rubber down racing, where you’re just blowing through your tires without even trying. It was crazy.”