BROOKLYN, Mich. – Putting his disappointing Knoxville Nationals showing behind him, Kyle Larson went back to his day job on Sunday and captured a third-place finish at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
Larson copped a speeding penalty in the opening stage of the Consumers Energy 400, but stayed on the lead lap and rallied back for the remainder of the afternoon with his No. 42 McDonald’s Chevrolet.
He was the beneficiary of several drivers running out of fuel inside the final 15 laps, jumping up from the fringes of the top 10 to the podium by the time the checkered flag waved on lap 200.
“I guess if you’re going to get a speeding penalty, the first run of the race is the time to do it,” said Larson, who was sitting ninth with 12 to go. “I was surprised when they said I was speeding, because I hadn’t hit a red light at all until after leaving my pit stall. That was the only time I hit a red.
“I was conservative on my lights the rest of the day … and maybe we just misjudged a little bit, or maybe I just was a little too fast; I don’t know. But our race was good and our car handled really well, so I was happy about that. We definitely came back through there pretty nicely. The last I knew, I was ninth … so to end up third is a great day for us.”
It was a far cry from how Larson started the week on the dirt Wednesday night. He was never a factor during his Knoxville Nationals preliminary event with Silva Motorsports, failing to lock into the championship A-main and leading him to withdraw from the Saturday finale at Knoxville Raceway.
That ended a two-year string of finishing on the podium at the world’s biggest sprint car race, but Larson refused to give up as he returned back to stock cars and back to the asphalt.
Sunday afternoon, Larson had solid speed and ran toward the front for much of the day, particularly in the final stage. His end result continued a run of four top-10s in the last seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races.
“I feel like we’ve been showing a lot of speed here the last two to two and a half months now, so we contended for a win in Chicago and have had some good runs since then,” Larson noted. “We’ve made some mistakes that have put us in backup cars, but all in all we’ve done a good job to bring fast race cars to the track every week. It just says a lot about our team and how we’re fighting through the season
“It’s a good time of year to get the speed and get some rhythm, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
With three races remaining before the playoff reset, Larson gained some breathing room over the cutoff line, leaving Michigan 71 markers clear of 17th-place Daniel Suarez.
That’s good news for the California driver, as he seeks to both make the postseason and snap a near two-year winless drought.
“We had a great points day,” Larson explained. “We saved just enough fuel there at the end to get to the finish line and now we’re well above the cut line. I’m happy about our day.
“We want that win, but we want to be able to chase a championship too.”
And as for those Nationals Larson is pursuing, there will be another year to claim that win.