With hype surrounding Kyle Larson before Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400, many expected him to have an outstanding performance and contend for the victory. Unfortunately, for the No. 42 Target Chevrolet team, their day couldn’t have gone any worse as they finished 43rd.
In the string of early yellow-flags, Larson made contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on pit road.
This “…ruined our day” according to Larson.
On the vast Michigan International Speedway, producing speed is crucial. Any damage to the car hinders it’s ability for speed which was the case for Larson on race day.
The incident left him deep in the field where he raced until a wreck that ended his day. On lap 98, a blown right-front tire shot the No. 42 car up into the wall. He exited the machine quickly as the impact produced flames under the hood.
When asked to describe the wreck he said
“Just obviously really slow because of our damage and stuff and just blew a right-front and went head on into the wall. It’s a shame I thought we had a car capable of winning the race today.”
The day started out in great hope, but came to a close before the halfway point. Larson was clearly disappointed as he thought reaching Victory Lane was a possibility.
Now this team sits 24 points outside of the Chase Grid with three races before the regular season ends. It may seem like a steep hill to climb if they are to earn a spot in the 16-car Chase field. However, if any driver can make it happen, it is Larson.
Time after time this season, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate has exceeded expectations placed upon him. He has surprisingly been extremely successful on some of the toughest tracks on the circuit. Including Bristol Motor Speedway, where NASCAR heads next.
He may not have fared well as a favorite in Michigan but, Bristol will be a different story. The 22-year old has performed greatly in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the track. One of his best performances came in March of 2013 when he lost by a nose to Kyle Busch. Bristol is his style of track and that should leave some hope on the table going forward.
Michigan will be a tough pill to swallow for the entire team, where the hopes of a Chase birth were within reach that day. They will now need to shift their focus to the three opportunities that lie ahead. Bristol, Atlanta, and Richmond. Three shots at earning a spot to compete for the title. By the time things settle out after Richmond, I expect that among the championship contenders will be Kyle Larson.