Kyle Larson Targets Strong Results at Michigan

Sometimes, it all comes together for a driver and track, much like Kyle Larson and Michigan International Speedway.

All things considered, Larson’s season was on the brink prior to last August’s MIS race.  Ranked 16th in the points standings, the Elk Grove, CA native needed a win to advance into the playoffs.

Undoubtedly, the 24-year-old racer’s victory sparked off some momentum for the No. 42 Target Chevy team. All told, he would score 10 top-fives and 15 top-10’s en route to a ninth place points result.

Presently, Larson finds himself in the midst of a career season.  As a matter of fact, he enters this weekend with a victory at Fontana coupled with six top-fives and nine top-10’s.

Furthermore, the fifth year racer credited his team’s efforts heading into 2017.

Larson has taken to the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway in Cars 3 style.

Larson has taken to the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway in Cars 3 style.

“This year, our cars are that much better than last year,” he said.  “We had a good offseason making big improvements.  It shows up each and every week.

I feel like we’ve been contenders.  It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve just got to keep continuing to grow on our stuff and make it even better.”

In fact, Larson’s season has improved as the year has progressed.  Starting from the pole position for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400, he took note of the strong fleet of cars prepared by crew chief Chad Johnston and the No. 42 team.

“I think our racecars have been fast here at Michigan,” he observed.  “At Fontana, we’ve not always been great there in the past.  This year, we were really, really strong.  I think going back, our racecars are just better everywhere.”

By the same token, the second place points racer dismissed the notion of a ripple effect with Chevrolet losing the Stewart-Haas Racing organization to Ford.

“I don’t feel it’s much different other than we get to look at some driver data from the Hendrick cars,” he said. “Other than that, I feel like we’ve worked somewhat close in the past with the Hendrick Chevys.  I don’t see much difference with losing Stewart Haas.”

In the meantime, Larson has enjoyed on track success along with the joys of fatherhood.  Driving a Cars 3 paint scheme for Sunday’s race, he reflected on a recent trip to the theater with son Owen and the importance of Father’s Day weekend.

“We got to see a private screening of it a few weeks ago,” he recalled.  “Owen seemed to enjoy the movie.  He’s really excited that my car looks like Lightning McQueen.

It’s been fun so far.  I think this time around is especially cool because he can talk pretty well.  It’s just a lot of fun right now.

My father has spent some Father’s Days here at the racetrack.  It seems like we’re always at the racetrack with him.  He’s done so much for my career, my personal life, and business life and still continues to do that.  I don’t know what I would do without him as I would be lost without my dad.  He does so much for me.

My parents did a good job raising my sister and me and instilling us with the right traits.  They did a good job and definitely, I’ve learned a lot from them in raising Owen.”

Away from the track, Larson enjoys his blend of sports programming, a bit of classic rap, and the occasional touch of gardening and home decor shows.

Ironically, his interests matched with his Xfinity Series teammate Brennan Poole.  At any rate, he quickly pointed out another commonality with his ally.

Larson seeks to score his second straight Michigan win.

Larson seeks to score his second straight Michigan win.

“I don’t watch a ton of TV,” he said with a smile.  “I probably watch FS1 or ESPN and I watch HGTV quite a bit.  Fixer Uppers is probably our favorite show.

Music wise?  I listen to everything.  I like some rap, mostly old school rap, which would be the only odd thing I listen to.  We’re just into the same stuff I guess.  Brennan claims that Texas is his home but he grew up in California so probably it’s a California thing.”

Ultimately, Larson is an old school racer with a youthful flair.  For this reason, it was not surprising when he revealed the components he’d want to change with his stock car.

“I’d change the racetracks from a quarter mile to a half mile,” he said.” Then, I’d get rid of the bodies, put wings on them, get more horsepower, and pretty much turn them into sprint cars.”

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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