SPARTA, KY – Kyle Larson was originally supposed to roll off in the 18th starting position for Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway. Instead, prior to the start of this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, Larson had to drop to the back due to missing driver intros. He gave up 22 positions on a track where track position pays dividends as a result.
That didn’t phase him last year and didn’t on Saturday either.
Last year, Larson never made it past inspection and didn’t make a qualifying lap as a result. He’d start in the back then too. He charged through the field for a runner-up finish. This year, he moved from 40th to eighth by the end of the first stage and would wind up fifth in the second stage.
That allowed him to bring his No. 42 Chevrolet home ninth for just his third top 10 finish over the last six races on the year. Two of which were runner-up efforts.
He likely would have been in contention to win if not for his track bar adjuster breaking during the course of the race. He’d have a lengthy stop for repairs and would restart the race after that outside of the top 10. Over the final green flag run, he’d pass a ton of cars another top 10 result.
In Chicagoland, Larson started midpack too and narrowly lost to Kyle Busch in a thrilling finish. Tonight, he came through again. Imagine what happens when he qualifies and starts up front. While he’s yet to win a race through the first 19 weeks of the season, finishes like he’s done tonight gives him enough to make his way into the playoffs come this Fall and could make some noise once he’s in.