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Kyle Larson Pursues Season Sweep at Richmond

Kyle Larson looks forward to moving past Pocono with a chance to sweep the Richmond races. (Photo: Mitchell Richtmyre | The Podium Finish)

RICHMOND, Va. – After a controversial Lap 154 contact with Denny Hamlin at Pocono last Sunday, Kyle Larson is putting the incident behind him as best as possible.

Competing in a High Limit Sprint Car Series race at Grandview Speedway at Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, Larson tallied a runner-up result to Rico Abreu. Now, the 30-year-old turns his sights on sweeping the NASCAR Cup Series races at Richmond Raceway.

The Richmond sweep was last accomplished by Martin Truex Jr. in 2019 with two dominant wins. Much like his Joe Gibbs Racing rival, Larson is hopeful about his chances to exact the same feat with his No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro entry.

“All of our wins this year have been on short-tracks (such as) Richmond, Martinsville and North Wilkesboro,” Larson said in a team press release. “We were good at Loudon, even compared to the teammates. Honestly, we have been pretty good everywhere this year. Especially early on in the year, we were really good on 1.5-mile tracks, intermediate tracks and superspeedways even.”

So far in 2023, the theme of Larson’s season has been checkers or wreckers. When Larson has been on point, he has delivered with his wins at Richmond and Martinsville. Then, there are the accidents in which the 2021 Cup champion commits an unforced error or is a victim of circumstance.

If Larson is going to vie for a clean sweep at the 0.75-mile short track, he realizes it will take a team effort especially with setting up the car. Compared to the April race when Larson won in the cool, sunny conditions, Sunday’s race is expected to be in the high 80s and humid.

“I’ve been upfront, but crash or whatever,” he said. “I’m excited about going to Richmond this weekend and going back to a track that we won at earlier this year.

“As the season progresses, setups change and the weather is going to be different than it was earlier this year It’s not going to be the same, but I’m confident because we have been good on all the short-tracks.”

Similarly, crew chief Cliff Daniels understands how difficult it will be to win Sunday’s Cook Out 400. Grip and comfort will be paramount for Daniels and his No. 5 team to find for Larson when he starts 14th in Round 23 of the season.

Larson and Daniels ponder about the changing track conditions at Richmond. (Photo: Mitchell Richtmyre | The Podium Finish)

“We are planning to try to respect the track as much as we possibly can,” Daniels said. “This place is so difficult. We were very fortunate to have a great race car and race overall in the spring. It’s certainly been a tough place for us in the past and we know that so we are trying to have a healthy amount of respect to make sure we do the right things and study ourselves right.

“We won’t rest on our lorals of a great race in the spring or be lazy about our approach. We will certainly look at everything that we can or need to from the spring race and make any adjustments that we see needed. Kyle was pretty happy with the car, but we can always be better. Hopefully, we can execute a very solid race and be in the top-10 by the end of it and have a shot (to win).

Larson will likely have to duel against Hamlin for the win at Richmond as the latter starts third at one of his better tracks. Beyond starting midfield, Larson will need to shake off Hamlin’s denials said during his Actions Detrimental podcast.

“I think he said a handful of things that made me even more frustrated throughout the week than maybe I even was after the race,” Larson said. “We’re just trying to forget about all of that, go race this weekend.”

Much like Hamlin, Larson maintains his stance on what happened on Lap 154 at Pocono. Specifically, he does not feel that he was given the space to wage a proper battle off Turn 1 when Hamlin made contact with his car.

Larson starts 14th ahead of Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

“I think I did all my interviews before I saw a replay and I knew exactly what happened,” he said. “After watching replays, it pretty much confirmed what had happened. My opinion on the on track stuff has not changed.”

Still, Larson did not want the frustrations to carry over into Richmond especially as he seeks a clean slate, relatively speaking, with his off track friend.

“It was brief and fine,” he said. “We texted a little bit late last night. He wanted to meet up. I didn’t feel like there was a reason to meet up.

“We were just gonna agree to disagree and probably get more frustrated with him and vice versa, he’d be frustrated with me afterward. I thought the brief texts that we had were good and ultimately, it was probably the best.”


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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