How a 'B' strategy still gave Kyle Larson an All-Star win

Kyle Larson earned his second NASCAR All-Star Race victory last weekend – and another $1 million paycheck – but for a while in the race his crew chief, Cliff Daniels, wasn’t certain Larson would be in the mix.

How a 'B' strategy still gave Kyle Larson an All-Star win
Listen to this article

Larson started on the pole and won the first of six rounds in the 100-lap event, but an inversion set him back in the field in Round 2 and suddenly Larson’s chances at contending for the win looked dire.

His No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet didn’t handle near as well in traffic and Larson struggled to keep what track position he had.

Daniels said a strategy decision before the race got Larson into that predicament.

“Honestly the grade I would give myself on the execution of the strategy would be probably a ‘B’ because at the beginning of the race, our car was too built for trying to have clean air and we didn’t do a good job getting the balance right for what he needed in traffic early,” he said.

“We had to work on the balance to get it closer so he could run in traffic better, and the second round did not go very well for us. We threw a lot of changes at it, got the car a lot closer where he could be aggressive and try to set himself up for passes, which was cool to see.

“Then, the way the points and everything worked out for us to start in the top 3 or 4 going into the fifth round worked out pretty well. Executing the pit stop was okay.”

Making gains

By Round 4, Larson’s car was working far better in traffic and he made his way up to second at the conclusion of that 15-lap segment.

His finishes in the first four rounds were good enough to gain him the second starting position in Round 5 and after the mandatory four-time pit stop, he finished third, which is also how he restarted the final 10-lap segment.

From there, it was a daring three-wide move by Brad Keselowski that sent Larson high up the track and briefly gave Keselowski the lead with eight laps remaining, only to see Larson power around him on the outside for the lead the next lap and eventually claim the win.

“We knew the way kind of the re-rack of the lineup was going to work out, you had to be able to pass, so it took us a little while to get our car where it could do that,” Daniels said.

“The one invert did help us out (after Round 2) when we just weren’t as good as we needed to be, and that was certainly no intention on our part to try to lag back to get the invert. It just kind of played out that way.”

Thinking he was out of the fight

Larson said he, too, believed in Rounds 2 and 3, his chances at victory had probably escaped him.

“I think through the second and third rounds there, I was like, you know what, I’m just out here logging laps; I’m not going to be able to win,” he said. “My car is not driving nearly as good.

I’m getting passed by people. I can’t pass cars that we lapped typically. I was like, ‘There’s no way.’ ”

But as the rounds went by and Larson found his way back to the front of the field, he discovered his car had gotten far better.

“I was like, you know what, we have a 10-lap run (at the end) and there’s no points on the line, I’m going to go for it if I get the chance, and if I wreck, I wreck,” he said.

There was no wreck, just another win and a $1 million payday.

Not bad for a ‘B’ strategy.

shares
comments

Related video

Brad Keselowski: Hendrick cars are "just stupid fast"
Previous article

Brad Keselowski: Hendrick cars are "just stupid fast"

Next article

Keelan Harvick gives 'Monster' Father's Day gift to his dad

Keelan Harvick gives 'Monster' Father's Day gift to his dad
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021