After a promising rookie year on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit, Kyle Larson continues to search for his first career victory.
Larson had eight top-fives in 2014, including second-place finishes at Fontana, Kansas and New Hampshire, on his way a 17th-place finish in the points standings.
Things haven’t gone as smoothly this season for Larson, who is 18th in points and has just one top-five finish. He answered five questions from reporters and the Observer’s David Scott last week at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway:
Q. What’s been the biggest difference this year for you?
A. I had a lot of good moments last year; none, really, this year. (I need) to fire the races off better. That’s been our kind-of struggle: to start most every race off being 100 percent competitive.
We always seem to get there throughout the race, but the tough part is knowing those adjustments that you have to make after practice.
Q. What do you remember most about your rookie year?
A. The exciting parts I’ve had in my Cup career, a lot of them came last year. I almost won a few races. I didn’t win any, but I got close a handful of times, which was fun. Chicago, battling (Brad) Keselowski and (Kevin) Harvick and Jeff Gordon to almost get a win, was fun.
We finished second at Fontana; so early in my Cup career, that was cool. Finishing fourth at Watkins Glen last year was awesome. So, a lot of stuff (from) last year.
It would be nice to get some moments this year. But yes, so far it’s just been all last year’s stuff.
Q. Do you think you can take advantage of some of the upcoming rules changes (some of which are being tested this week at Kentucky)?
A. I honestly don’t know. I haven’t been one of the drivers or teams, or (teammate) Jamie (McMurray) either, that’s been able to even test the new rules package.
So, I don’t really know how we’ll be. Hopefully we will be good, but it’s hard for me to give an answer on that if that’s two more opportunities for me to win, or two less.
I’m excited to get to Kentucky and get to drive the rules package. I know a lot of people in the shop are like ‘Oh, you’ll probably like it a lot with less downforce.’ But it seems like in stock cars; whenever I’m loose, I’m slow.
And I imagine we’ll probably be pretty loose (at Kentucky). But I’m just guessing.
Q. Do you hear from team owner Chip Ganassi to help keep you motivated?
A. He just tries to stay as positive as he can. I know he probably wishes we would, well, our whole team, would win by now, but he’s been a great owner with not putting a whole lot of stress on us, yet. But yeah, it would be nice to get that win for him soon.
Q. How does Ganassi do that?
A. He’ll call me every night after the race and we’ll go over the race really quickly because that’s kind of how all of his phone calls are.
Most of the time, we both look at the positives of the race, and there have been a couple of times this year where he’s gotten down on me, but that helps motivate me. So, I like that part of that, too.
Chip is a good owner. He understands auto racing and what goes on through a race to get you up or down.
I love running for Chip. He’s a racer himself and understands racing in general.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14