(KTXL) – The NASCAR Pennzoil 400 wrapped Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas with Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson finishing in first place.
Larson is with a new team and in a new car after a troubled season a year ago, but with just four races in, Larson is surpassing even his own expectations.
“You know, new team, new faces and I haven’t been in a car in a long time. To be as strong as we’ve been throughout the whole race at every race has been really good, so I’ve been happy,” said Larson, who is driving the No. 5 Chevy for Hendrick Motor Sports.
Just a month into the NASCAR Cup Series season, Larson is more than pleased with the results.
Heading into Las Vegas, Larson has a pair of top-10 finishes and had it not been for a late-race mistake on the Daytona road course, he would have gone three for three in top-10 finishes.
“I was surprised. I thought there would be cobwebs and rust. I felt as fresh as ever in a race car,” Larson explained. “When I got into the car and put my head-and-neck restraint on, buckling up and all that, everything felt normal. It didn’t feel like I had been out of a car for a long time.”
“Even shifting gears and coming down pit road and stopping on my pit-sign, and stuff like that, it’s all come natural so far. I don’t feel that I’ve made any mistakes doing those little things, and I think when you’re out of a car for a long time it’s the little things you forget about,” Larson added.
NASCAR still hasn’t returned to its normal practice and qualifying routine just yet, so with limited time behind the wheel, Larson and his team have been pouring over both car and track data to get ready each week.
“You really have got to be as prepared as you can be going to the racetrack, as far as being ready to go, so you’re not out-to-lunch during the first stage. I don’t know if there is a team that has worked harder that we have to be as prepared as we’ve been each week,” Larson said.
NASCAR’s race last season at Sonoma didn’t happen because of the pandemic but Larson said he looks forward to getting back and racing on his home track in June.
“I’ve always qualified well there, so I know how to get around there fast. I’ve struggled on long runs and stuff. Hopefully, when I get to my home race, I can get a win at Sonoma. That would be really cool,” Larson said.