You’d be a fool to think that Kyle Larson wouldn’t be an immediate threat to contend for a win early in the 2021 season.
After signing a deal with Hendrick Motorsports to return to the Cup Series, fans became curious how competitive he would be after being off-track for the majority of the 2020 season.
The answer became clear after a great performance and a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Larson’s back, and he’s returning to the familiar on-track form fans are used to seeing.
“It got pretty intense there at the end, said Larson. “I was just trying to take care of my tires and was just struggling on the long runs. We were loose for a majority of the race and in that last run, we actually got kind of tight. But I felt like being tight was better for my long runs than loose, just because I could be a little more confident.”
After starting 17th, Larson quietly and methodically made his way into the top-10 early on, before taking an early pit stop to add packer to the left front. From there on, Larson remained a frequent visitor to the top-10, while finishing sixth in Stage one, and fifth in Stage two respectively.
After a solid pit stop in Stage three, Larson’s crew put him out front with less than 65 laps to go. The No. 5 Camaro lead five laps before an impressive fight for the lead between Martin Truex Jr., and eventual race winner William Byron.
After Byron drove away, the race would remain green for the rest of the way. Larson began to fade into the mirror of the No. 24 car, leaving the California driver to duke it out with Truex Jr., and an incoming Tyler Reddick. Larson would settle for fourth.
“I would have liked to finish second, but those guys were better than me in the end and I just couldn’t hold them off,” Larson said. “I hate that I gave up those spots. But it was a good day for the NationsGuard Chevy team. Congrats to William Byron. It’s really cool for William to get a win this early in the year. Hats off to their team and hopefully we can get it done soon.”
Heading into Las Vegas, look for another strong performance by the 28-year-old. Totally nine starts at the track since 2014, Larson has finished in the top-12 in six of those nine starts. He also notched an Xfinity Series win at the track in 2018, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Larson will swap out the NationsGuard colors with the fan-favorite red, white, and blue of HendrickCars.com heading into the Pennzoil 400. Fans can tune into starting at 3:30 PM EST on FOX and the FOX Sports App.