June 2nd, 2015
Hype surrounded Kyle Larson prior to 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 hinders the chance of that happening which proved to be the case for Larson.
The incident left him deep in the field where he raced until he was involved in 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 prior to 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 conclusion of the regular season. 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 accomplish this feat, 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. A Chase birth seemed to be in reach. 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 this team to be among the championship contenders.