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Kyle Larson: Dover Is “Probably My Best Track on Paper”

Kyle Larson enjoys racing at Dover Motor Speedway. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Kyle Larson enjoys racing at Dover Motor Speedway. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

DOVER, Del. – While Kyle Larson only has one victory at Dover Motor Speedway, his track record at the 1-mile concrete track is phenomenal.

In 14 starts, Larson has seven top fives and 11 top 10s, good enough for an average finish of 6.9. This leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with more than 10 starts at the track based in “The First State.”

Moreover, he has been a dominant force at the 54-year-old track with 899 laps led. Namely, Larson’s best performance, minus his 2019 victory, was his 2021 effort when he led 263 laps and placed runner-up to Alex Bowman.

In terms of Larson’s focus with short and green flag runs, he recognizes how the lines and grip changes when more rubber is on the track.

“Yeah, it changes quite a bit,” Larson said. “Early (during) the first 10 or 12 laps, you feel like you’ve got mega grip and then you can watch the the line. The lane kind of blackens up and you start losing a lot of grip. So it’s fun. It changes around a lot.”

Even though Dover is a concrete track, it does not preclude drivers and teams from making adjustments to optimize their car’s handling. Like other tracks, the balance between aero tight and loose is a struggle even for one of the best contenders in the Cup circuit.

Last year, Larson started third, led 19 laps but had a mid-race incident that damaged his car’s right front fender. Still, he was able to salvage a sixth place finish, a decent result after an action packed race.

Aside from those circumstances, he points out how the newness of the car may have factored into his struggles around Dover.

“This race last year, I think, with this package and this car wasn’t that great,” he said. “It just seemed like we got really tight in traffic. But, hopefully with another year on the car, you will see how it races any differently. But I love Dover. It’s a great track. It’s probably my probably my best track on paper. So (I) always look forward to come here.”

Larson hopes to nab his first Dover win under the Hendrick banner after triumphing in Oct. 6, 2019, with Ganassi's team. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Larson hopes to nab his first Dover win under the Hendrick banner after triumphing in Oct. 6, 2019, with Ganassi’s team. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

A confident driver is typically ready for race day thanks to an equally strong, passionate team and crew chief. In Larson’s case, Cliff Daniels is as equally committed and determined to make it a great race day at Dover in pursuit of their first “Monster Mile” win as a unit.

“Kyle has a really good knack for driving at Dover,” Daniels said ia a team press release. “He has a great feel for that place. Really, it’s going to be on us to get him a car that he is comfortable with so he can move around when the track takes rubber and drive the way he wants to drive. Admittedly, we did miss that a little bit last year.

“We were competitive but not quite as strong as we wanted to be. We do have the data points from last year and we’ve learned a lot of things since that hopefully we can apply and put a good foot forward.”

With another day in Dover to ruminate before Monday’s better late than never race (noon ET on FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Larson has his work cut out for him starting in 18th position. Then again, he is no stranger with contending in the late going from a middling starting spot as evident at Martinsville just a few weeks ago.

Likewise, the Elk Grove, California native dispels the notion of Dover’s infamous falling off your seat sensation that often challenges any driver with its intense experiences.

“I think media kind of talks that up,” Larson said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a sensation. It doesn’t feel like way different than any other track. Into (Turn) 3 is rougher. So you get more of a fast feeling into into (Turn) 3 than you do into (Turn) 1 where you kind of drop in the corner.”

Editor’s Notes

Nathan Solomon contributed to this article directly on-site from Dover Motor Speedway in Dover, Delaware.

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson 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 is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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