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Kyle Larson Vies for Timely Talladega Triumph

Kyle Larson would love to have a good day at Talladega. (Photo: Teresa Bennink | The Podium Finish)

LINCOLN, Ala. — A tough result for Kyle Larson at Texas Motor Speedway puts more emphasis on a strong outing and finish at Talladega.

It is not the ideal scenario, but such is life in the NASCAR Cup Series racing. When it means being 19 laps away from a potential victory at a tough intermediate track, it also places some stressors when pushing the envelope.

Such was the case last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway for Larson and his No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team. As Larson and Bubba Wallace duked it out for the lead approaching Turn 1, Larson’s car got loose, resulting in a hard crash into the Turn 1 wall.

As the team attempted to repair the severely damaged car, time ran out due to the Damaged Vehicle Policy (DVP) clock. Larson placed 31st, a tough result that dropped him from fourth to eighth in the Round of 12 Playoffs standings.

Now, Larson and his team have the tough task of tallying a strong result or scoring a pivotal victory at Talladega Superspeedway. In 17 prior starts, the Elk Grove, California native’s only top five coming from a fourth place effort in the 2022 GEICO 500 won by Ross Chastain.

Despite the tough result at Texas, Larson has a hopeful perspective with Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega.

“I’m just trying to do good every weekend,” Larson said in a team press release. “Texas didn’t pan out the way the No. 5 team necessarily wanted, but our race cars have been crazy fast so I’m just trying to get through Talladega with some decent track position and hopefully we can get a win at Talladega.”

So far, it has been a good start to the weekend with Larson qualifying fourth, the best result for the Team Chevrolet camp. Still, the 31-year-old racer is pragmatic with racing at the 54-year-old Yellowhammer State venue.

“Talladega, that’s a sketchy one, but anybody can go there and feel like they have a shot to win,” he said. “At Talladega, you’re trying to avoid a crash which is difficult.”

For those unfamiliar with Talladega, it can be like trying to win a game of Minesweeper. Smart moves seem to work out in the beginning before one wrong prematurely ends a promising effort.

After qualifying fourth on Saturday afternoon, Kyle Larson hopes to finally triumph at Talladega. (Photo: Teresa Bennink | The Podium Finish)

This analogy may seem applicable considering how Larson and his team have been in contention for four of the five superspeedway style races contested this year. In fact, Larson was a lap away from potentially scoring this year’s Daytona 500 being burned turned into the Turn 2 wall, crashing out with an 18th place finish.

Earlier this year, Larson was inside the top 10 at Talladega before getting turned into the Turn 2 wall in an Overtime restart, placing 33rd. Atlanta did not treat Larson kindly on both occasions despite having fast cars, placing 31st and 36th due to accidents.

On this occasion, Larson and his team hope to be in the mix and regain some of the lost points from Texas at a track that has stymied them since 2021. Cliff Daniels, Larson’s crew chief, observed his team’s approach thus far at these venues.

“We’ve had a very similar strategy at all of the superspeedway races this year,” Daniels said in a team press release. “We’re trying to do what’s right as far as keeping our car upfront. Obviously, we try to avoid trouble the best we can, which can certainly be tough to do at these plate races.”

Clearly, for this race day, the No. 5 car has the pace and a team that is ready to keep their driver in the hunt. Daniels hopes it can all come together to either make life easier next Sunday at the Charlotte ROVAL or possibly exorcise their superspeedway demons at last.

“I feel like we always have fast cars and Kyle always does a great job at trying to get our car upfront and in position,” he said. “You certainly have to execute a good race.

“If we do all the things that we can control right and put us in position, with a healthy does of luck, hopefully we’ll have a good finish coming our way soon.”

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 Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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