Transcripts: Kyle Larson – Champ 4 Post-Qualifying Press Conference – Phoenix Raceway

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Kyle Larson. We’ll get right to questions.

Q. Yesterday Cliff said that them having to revinyl part of the car, that just means they’re in the right spot for the weekend. How important is it for you to have him, that support?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, that’s good. I don’t think any team would be upset if their driver scuffs the wall on the straightaway. As often as I do it, it doesn’t seem to annoy him as much as maybe it would annoy some other crew chiefs.

No, I mean, yeah, I feel like I have the support of my whole team, even when I make dumb mistakes. But, yeah, I don’t know really where I’m going with it… It’s just a scuff (smiling).

Q. Was that just a mistake and was there any concern about the handling of the car?

KYLE LARSON: I barely touched the wall.

Q. The fact that you and William are top four in this, is this a Hendrick Motorsports race I don’t want to say to lose, but do you feel you have shown that you haven’t lost a step since the spring?

KYLE LARSON: I wouldn’t say that. I mean, I think we all saw the practice sheets yesterday. I think the 12 and the 20 looked a step better than especially me and even William a little bit. Was honestly surprised that they didn’t make the final round there, all that.

So, no, I’m not counting out Blaney or Bell at all. It’s a long race, so they’ll overcome wherever they start. I’m sure they’ll drive through the field. The Final 4 guys, most everybody respects or shows a lot of respect to on the racetrack and gives a lot of space.

I think they’ll find their way to the front pretty quickly.

Q. New tire this weekend. How did it feel out there compared to the spring?

KYLE LARSON: I mean, the spring has been so long ago, I don’t really remember how I felt in practice. Yesterday I was just struggling for entry grip a lot. We made a lot of adjustments overnight. I felt much better there in qualifying. It’s qualifying trim versus race trim. Still don’t know how I’ll be compared to yesterday.

I think the entry grip was better with the other tire. I don’t even know the differences within the tire. Yeah, no, I mean, lap times seem to be a little bit faster, at least in qualifying trim. I don’t know what that means, though, for the race.

Q. You talked about the 12 and the 20 had what seemed good long run speed yesterday in practice. How do you expect the conditions and what you learned in the practice session yesterday to translate to tomorrow?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I’m not sure. I miss practice. It was great to have practice. 50 minutes at night, three sets of tires, it was just chaos yesterday (smiling).

I don’t know. I’m not saying I miss the three practice sessions that we used to have, but I thought it was just really chaotic yesterday. I felt like there was may more chaos than a 20-minute session just because three sets of tires, it’s like you’re always in traffic. You were either catching somebody or you were in the way of somebody, being on different laps on tires. Yesterday’s practice was difficult. Nighttime, we don’t race anywhere close to nighttime tomorrow, so…

Yeah, I left last night just basically being more confused I think than had I just not practiced at all. Yeah, that was interesting and makes the weekend kind of more difficult. I guess that part of it’s good.

Q. You have seven top-five finishes here at Phoenix. You looked good in qualifying. How confident are you going into tomorrow?

KYLE LARSON: I don’t know. I mean, last night I was not too confident, just more so confused. We qualified better today than I thought we would. I think my race car is quite a bit better than we were yesterday.

I understand it’s going to be a tough race. I don’t know. I mean, yeah, past results help confidence, but it’s a different race every time you come back.

Q. You’ve been here before. You’ve won a championship. What experiences can you draw on from then to now?

KYLE LARSON: Nothing. I mean, it’s a totally — I said it a lot on Media Day, but it’s a totally different series than it was two years ago. The cars are different. Restarts are different. Just the style of racing is different. The way cars react around other cars is different.

There’s not really anything I feel like I can take from a couple years ago, other than just knowing that we’ve done it before so we can do it again. But that really doesn’t mean anything either.

Q. A few years back in the championship race, you talked about really not wanting to upset things and being very respectful. Does that era still exist in this series like in that Homestead race? Is the expectation that people will race you as you raced a few years back in Homestead?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I’m not sure. I think circumstances are different. I think then, that race you’re speaking of, I was running third, and I was really fast catching Martin, who was leading, but catching Kyle as well. I knew if I passed Kyle, I was going to screw his chance at winning a championship. I kind of wanted to leave it to those two to race it out.

I think it just varies from driver to driver. I think there is a handful of drivers in the field that would have the Championship 4 drivers in mind, and then there’s probably a handful of drivers that are going to race hard, which you can appreciate both ways.

Everybody wants to win a Cup race. They’re hard to win. Phoenix, I feel like there’s more opportunity for people to win than at Homestead back then. I think because of that, yeah, the people will be more aggressive in the way that they race or just race more normal probably.

Like I said, every circumstance is different. You don’t really know until you get out there and get in those situations.

Q. Blaney is 15th. Bell is 20th. You’re 4th. Byron is 1st. Does any of that really matter? The race comes down to the last pit stop. Does any of that help you? At the end of the race, what are you looking for to make sure you get off pit road?

KYLE LARSON: Well, I mean, even though they start 15th and 20th, they still get to pick third and fourth pit stall selections. They’re going to end up in a good stall. Their car obviously was really good in practice yesterday, so they’re going to find their way to the front.

I don’t view anything about where they qualified. I wish I would have got the pole. Just was a little bit off of William there. I think honestly if I would have qualified a little bit better the first round, I think what I did in the second round would have caught him off guard a little bit sooner than it did, and I probably would have beat him, gotten the first pit stall selection.

Yeah, just got to execute every chance you get. I just didn’t execute quite good enough the first round.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Kyle.