LONG POND, Pa. â Kyle Larson may have been in a backup car on Sunday at Pocono Raceway, but he didnât let that stop him from turning in an impressive performance in the Gander RV 400.
After a crash in Fridayâs opening practice session relegated him to a secondary mount and a starting spot at the rear of the grid, Larson charged his way forward through traffic, ultimately ending up with a fifth-place finish at the end of the overtime-extended event in the heart of the Pocono Mountains.
The Elk Grove, Calif., driver wasted no time moving forward, making it all the way to sixth within the first 50 laps and earning bonus points in both stages on Sunday. He ran as high as second in the race, but faded back to fifth in the final laps after nearly tagging the outside wall during a late restart.
âI didnât hit the wall, but I got close,â noted Larson. âI knew I was going to be close to the wall, so I bailed out of the throttle to keep myself from hitting the wall and lost momentum. I felt bad, but it was better than ending up torn up like the last time I was aggressive on a restart. It was a good day. It was a lot better car than I thought I was going to have, so it just goes to show how good our team is right now and how good our cars are.
âLast week, I felt like we had one of the fastest cars and we didnât get to show it. Today, I felt like we were one of the fastest cars,â he added. âIf I could just race a primary car, who knows what we could do. I just have to clean up a bit of what Iâm doing in practice and the races, and hopefully we can get a win.â
With Sundayâs strong result, Larson now has three top-five finishes in the past four Cup Series races, solidifying himself as a playoff contender in 14th in points with just five weeks left in the regular season.
âThis just goes to show how good our cars are right now,â Larson said. âAny time you have a good run in a backup car, itâs satisfying. The past two weeks in a row I feel like weâve had good speed in our backup cars, so Iâve been really happy with that.
âI donât want to race backup cars, though, so I just have to stop crashing.â