Kyle Larson Vies for Maximum Playoff Results

Before the Playoffs begin, Kyle Larson concentrates on winning the regular season championship. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Before the Playoffs begin, Kyle Larson concentrates on winning the regular season championship. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

In the grand scheme of things, Kyle Larson enjoys a dream NASCAR Cup Series season. All things considered, he’s enjoying a dream year in motorsports.

By all means, Kyle Larson might feel like he’s dreaming in 2021. Surely, with wins in the Chili Bowl and Knoxville Nationals, Larson’s showcased his versatile racing talents.

Likewise, the 29-year-old Elk Grove, Calif. native enjoys his best Cup season as of yet. With five wins, 14 top 10 finishes, and 18 top 10 results, Larson continually puts on a NASCAR masterclass each weekend.

Still, Larson observes the keys to his strongest season in NASCAR.

"I like to get into a flow of things and then kind of evaluate how we’re doing." - Kyle Larson (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

“I like to get into a flow of things and then kind of evaluate how we’re doing.” – Kyle Larson (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

“I think our race cars have gotten a little bit better,” Larson said earlier this season. “And we’ve just been executing really well as a team all around. I think early on the year, I was making a few mistakes that took us out of good finishes and things like that.

“And now, we’ve just been able to run smarter races because our cars are a little bit better. We’re executing how we need to, so yeah, it’s been fun.”

Indeed, fun seems like the perfect word with describing Larson’s Cup season. Consider his emphatic Las Vegas win, his three race winning streak from Charlotte to Nashville and Watkins Glen victory.

Previously, Larson struggled with closing out races. Whether in a dominant effort or in striking distance of a win, Larson found himself relegated as a bridesmaid.

Nowadays, Larson and his No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro execute and capitalize on race days. On race days where Larson might lack winning speed, he delivers a strong top five or top 10 result.

As Larson shared, rather than setting goals and expectations, the Californian considers the here and now.

Eyes on the NASCAR Cup Series prize. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Eyes on the NASCAR Cup Series prize. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“I never really set goals before a season because you’ll never really know how your season’s gonna go,” he shared. “So you know, you don’t want to disappoint or set your expectations too high and disappoint yourself. But, I like to get into a flow of things and then kind of evaluate how we’re doing. And then, you know, set more goals from there. So I mean, not really set goals, I guess. We’ve been strong all year. So, I’d hope to contend at as many races as possible.”

Nearly two months since Larson’s NASCAR All-Star victory at Texas, he’s contended each week. Regardless if it’s Road America, Loudon or Michigan, Larson and the No. 5 team consistently deliver, championship contender style.

“We’ve been able to contend at pretty much all but a couple races this year,” he observed. “So, it’s just been fun from my seat. I’m extremely proud of my race team, pit crew and everybody at the race shop for what they do to build fast race cars and help us, you know, execute our jobs on the weekend.”

Starting with crew chief Cliff Daniels, the sight of the No. 5 car at the front of the field grows quite familiar.

On a related note, Larson thrives in these grueling, summertime races. Like former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy once said, “If it’s too tough for you, it’s just right for me.”

Evidently, Kyle Larson enjoys some NASCAR heat. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Evidently, Kyle Larson enjoys some NASCAR heat. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“I enjoy the summer months and the summer races,” he shared. “The tracks get slicker and harder to get grip on. So yeah, I think that usually benefits me. And, yeah, I think you just got to stay hydrated throughout the week, and especially on the weekends and you take good care of yourself.”

Above all else, Larson’s incredible racecraft and talents are the sum of his dedication with excellence. After all, any racer or athlete thriving in the heat knows all about excelling in the extremes.

“I think it’s important also to not spend too much time in air conditioning to help kind of keep yourself acclimated to to warmer temperatures,” Larson opined. “So your body can handle it better when it’s for that situation. And yeah, I mean, it’s the same for all of us.”

Before this year’s NASCAR Playoffs kick off at Darlington, Larson and his peers prepare for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona on Saturday night (August 28). Similarly, as Ryan Blaney discussed, mental health proves essential to Larson.

"It’s good to just get help if you if you feel like you need help." - Kyle Larson (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“It’s good to just get help if you if you feel like you need help.” – Kyle Larson (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“I think mental health is important for for everybody,” Larson said. “And I think, you know, I’m surrounded by great people and friends and family and children and I get to do what I love on a daily basis and driving race cars.

“But, you know, I can definitely see where things that the pandemic, you know, was difficult on everybody, and more difficult on some people. So, you know, it’s good to just get help if you if you feel like you need help. Or if your friends think you need help, you know, take it serious, and yeah, because mental health is a very important thing for sure.”

No matter the number of wins and championships that Larson might enjoy in his career, mental health optimization matters. Definitely, with the high stakes linked with a competitive racing series like NASCAR, Larson appreciates optimizing his mental health.

No doubt about it, Kyle Larson appreciates his support system. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

No doubt about it, Kyle Larson appreciates his support system. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“I know there’s at least I’ve read where drivers have struggled with it and their personal experiences,” he expressed. “I’m sure we all have at some point in some way, shape or form. But yeah, I think surrounding yourself with with good people is important.”

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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