Following a solid rookie season in the Sprint Cup Series, Kyle Larson is anxious to get going, hoping he’s just as competitive with the new rules package.
“Everybody gets excited for the season to start. Once the season starts, yeah, just hope we can get a couple of wins and be competitive every week,” he commented. “Last year, nobody had any expectations for me other than failing (laughs), so the expectations are different this year (with) a little bit more pressure. But our team’s not paying attention to any of those expectations. We’re going to go out there and do the best job we can. So, I think we can run up front every week, hopefully, and be competitive and try and get a couple of wins.”
Last season, Larson finished 17th in points with eight top-five finishes, highlighted by a pair of runner-up finishes late in the season.
“We had a really good year last year; so, hopefully we can build off those stats and grow into even better finishes each week,” Larson commented. “I felt like we deserved to be in the Chase last year, but we just didn’t do the right things during the regular season to put ourselves in the Chase. So, I think we’ve learned from that and this year we’ll be pushing even harder to get in the Chase.”
Larson feels that with the experience that he gained last year, he can turn the possible opportunities to win races into race wins this season. The confdience is so high that co-owner Felix Sebates promised that both Larson and his teammate Jamie McMurray would make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“I feel like me and Jamie both expect that our cars are going to be really fast this year,” Larson commented. “Last year we were both fast enough to deserve to be in the Chase. We just didn’t do the right things during the season to put ourselves in position to make the Chase. We had too many DNF. That was probably both of our reasons for why we didn’t make it. I think this year we have even faster race cars, and hopefully we can both get a couple of wins and lock ourselves in the Chase.”
Though in searching for the wins, Larson hopes to keep the balance of being on the edge, but not over it.
“I felt like in the Cup series last year, I did a good job of finding that edge and not really jumping it,” he reflected. “My DNF’s were from me getting involved in either other people’s wrecks or blowing right front tires.”
Larson added that the key is trying to go as fast as you can without hurting the car due to the length of the races.
The strive for success begins with Daytona Speedweeks, in the form of the Sprint Unlimited and the Daytona 500. Both trips to Daytona last year for Larson didn’t go well, as he found himself wrecked out. However, perhaps this year is a year for change as Larson started off the year by winning the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
But, yeah; SpeedWeeks was not great. The 500 was awful. I got into the wall the second lap of the race and blew a right front tire,” Larson reflected back on last year. “Came down pit road and tried to fix it as quick as we could. We lost a lap and went out there and had a fender rub and popped our right rear tire and spun out and lost a couple of laps. We almost got back on the lead lap at the end, and Austin (Dillon) got into us and we wrecked. But once I got into the wall, I couldn’t wait for the race to be over. So, I hope this year goes a lot better. It couldn’t go any worse, hopefully, but yeah. I’m looking forward to it. I feel like my luck here at Daytona now is changing in 2015.”
Based on his climb through the ranks and his rookie season success, there’s a lot of people wondering if Larson will be the next thing. Larson hopes that he is, but says it’s a wait-and-see game right now. There were also those that were wondering whether he was entering the Sprint Cup Series too soon last year, but Larson has since proven that he’s ready.
“I definitely paid attention to it and people doubting what we were going to be able to do last year; and fueled that into our team as ‘lets go out and prove them wrong’,” he commented. “I feel like we did that. But I didn’t let it get to me or anything like that. Just like anything else, I just go out there and try to do the best job I can. I’m going to try to do the same thing this year.”