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Larson: Las Vegas test "more important" with track's playoff race

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Larson: Las Vegas test "more important" with track's playoff race
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Feb 1, 2018, 1:02 AM

Kyle Larson has done a lot of racing during his offseason but the laps he turns this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway may prove the most beneficial to the upcoming NASCAR season.

Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Start: Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford, Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota lead
Start: Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford, Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota lead

Among his many exploits over the last two months, Larson has raced in New Zealand and competed in the Chili Bowl.

Larson was one of over a dozen drivers to participate Wednesday in the first day of a two-day NASCAR organizational test, and it was also his first laps in Chevrolet’s new Camaro ZL1 model Cup car.

“I get a lot out of it, especially being the first test of the year; getting familiar with the car and just getting laps,” Larson said. “And then you know, out here, obviously you don’t have a lot of cars, the groove doesn’t move up as much as it will for the race weekend, but the weather is always pretty consistent out here.

“The rubber and all that, it’s like I said, consistent and you can get a decent balance on your car from when you come back in a month or two, or whatever it is.  This is the first time I’ve gotten to really test a 1.5-mile (track) in the off-season, which is nice as well.”

The Atlanta and Las Vegas races generally set a tone for the season, as 1.5-mile tracks make up the bulk of the Cup series schedule, including the playoffs.

Las Vegas has added significance this year as it now has a second race date which will kick-off the start of the playoffs.

“I guess maybe with an added race and it being in the playoffs this test becomes a little more important,” he said. “Every test is important because you want to come back and have good speed, but you know when you are coming back here for a playoff race it’s just that much more important. 

“I don’t know if we put any more focus on the test or what, but hopefully, we learn a lot to where we are fast both races.”

Larson’s record at Las Vegas has been mixed. In four career Cup starts, he has finished 19th or worse twice and eighth or better twice, including a runner-up finish one year ago.

Results at testing are difficult to translate to race performance, but being among the faster cars is still better than being at the bottom of the speed chart.

“I think you can get a decent judge off of kind of where you stack up against other teams.  But it’s also hard because you don’t know who is pushing the limits on their bodies and stuff here or whatever they are doing,” Larson said. 

“In that aspect you don’t really know where you stand, but I feel good about it and I think you can still get somewhat of a decent idea on who is going to be fast when we get to Atlanta.

“It was nice to get some laps here and feel like we’ve got some pretty good speed and good balance with our new Camaro ZL1. Pretty good test so far.”

Morning Practice Times        
Pos Name Team Best Time Best Speed Diff.
1 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports 26.678 188.298  
2 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing 28.695 188.186 0.017
3 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing 28.747 187.846 0.069
4 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing 28.778 187.643 0.100
5 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing 28.953 186.509 0.275
6 Brad Keselowski Team Penske 28.983 186.316 0.305
7 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Roush Fenway Racing 28.994 186.245 0.316
8 Kasey Kahne Leavine Family Racing 29.001 186.200 0.323
9 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports 29.037 185.970 0.359
10 Chris Buescher JTG Racing 29.09 185.631 0.412
11 Ty Dillon Germain Racing 29.181 185.052 0.503
12 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing 29.205 184.900 0.527
13 Cole Custer Go Fas Racing 29.352 183.974 0.674
14 Drew Herring Toyota Racing Development 29.507 183.007 0.829
15 Justin Allgaier  Chevrolet 29.547 182.760 0.869
16 David Ragan Ford Motor Company 29.675 181.971 0.997
           
Afternoon Practice Times        
Pos Name Team Best Time Best Speed Diff.
1 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing 28.662 188.403  
2 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing 28.852 187.162 0.190
3 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports 28.863 187.091 0.201
4 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing 28.902 186.838 0.240
5 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing 28.92 186.722 0.258
6 Brad Keselowski Team Penske 28.943 186.574 0.281
7 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing 29.079 185.701 0.417
8 Darrell Wallace Jr.  Richard Petty Motorsports 29.119 185.446 0.457
9 Kasey Kahne  Leavine Family Racing 29.141 185.306 0.479
10 Chris Buescher JTG Racing 29.146 185.274 0.484
11 Drew Herring Toyota Racing Development 29.207 184.887 0.545
12 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing 29.236 184.704 0.574
13 Ty Dillon Germain Racing 29.274 184.464 0.612
14 Cole Custer  Go Fas Racing 29.312 184.225 0.650
15 David Ragan Ford Motor Company 29.779 181.336 1.117
16 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 29.878 180.735 1.216
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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kyle Larson
Author Jim Utter