Improving Larson looks for first Cup win at Coca-Cola 600


By Steve Reed

AP Sports Writer

CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Larson believes he’s on the verge of kicking in the door and getting his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win.

The 23-year-old seems to be getting close.

Larson finished second two weeks ago at Dover, then had a chance to win the All-Star exhibition race at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend before losing control of his car and hitting the wall following a challenge from Joey Logano. He wound up finishing 16th, missing out on a chance for a breakthrough win and the $1 million first-place prize.

“It would mean a lot to get it anywhere, but especially here at Charlotte, close to home,” Larson said of his first Sprint Cup win. “. … We have been rolling good the last few weeks. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going. Our car has been getting a lot faster.”

Whether it will be fast enough on Sunday night in the Coca-Cola 600 — NASCAR’s longest race of the year — remains to be seen.

There have been great expectations thrust upon Larson, who has gone 87 races without a Sprint Cup victory.

But his recent success, which includes holding off Chase Elliott to win the third segment of the Sprint Showdown last week to race his way into the All-Star race, has him feeling confident.

But certainly not overconfident.

“A lot of the times, I’ve seen drivers in the past that run well in the All-Star race don’t run well at the 600,” Larson said. “Hopefully, that is not the case this week, but we are going to work really hard to try and have a good run. Hopefully, it all works out.”

Larson, who’ll start 24th on Sunday night, is expected to receive plenty of competition from Logano, who has won the last two races at CMS, including the fall race in October.

Logano will start on the front row Sunday night alongside pole winner Martin Truex Jr.

“This has become one of our best race tracks for sure,” Logano said. “Winning the last two races here, it gives you a lot of confidence going into races.”

But Logano is quick to point out this will be the third different rules package in the last three races at CMS, and the track is always changing depending on the weather.

“It feels like it is something different every time,” Logano said.

Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick has also been strong at CMS in recent years.

Harvick has one win, two second-place finishes and a ninth-place outing in his four points races here since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. He won in October 2014 when he led 162 laps and beat Jeff Gordon to the finish line. He finished runner-up to Jimmie Johnson in May 2014 and Logano last October.

Harvick said since his arrival at SHR, his confidence has risen while driving at CMS.

“I think we got everything straightened out over the last couple of years,” Harvick said. “Since I got to Stewart-Haas Racing, it’s been a really good racetrack for us and the results have been great.”

By Steve Reed

AP Sports Writer

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