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Kyle Larson ready for Martinsville after Auto Club wreck

Kyle Larson

RELATED: Larson sidelined after hard hit at Auto Club


MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Kyle Larson says he feels no ill effects from a heavy crash two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway, despite soreness in his upper body and legs that lingered for a handful of days after the impact.


Larson declared himself fit Friday in advance of Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Martinsville Speedway, where he's running double duty this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series.


"Yeah, I feel fine," said Larson, who opted out of an extracurricular sprint-car race in his home state of California last week to rest up and heal. "I was only sore for just a few days. I'm pretty surprised I healed up as quick as I did. I was definitely pretty sore right after it and the next day, but then I got a lot better. Went and saw a chiropractor and after that, I was pretty good."


Missing Martinsville this weekend wasn't a serious concern for Larson, but last year told a different story. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver fainted as he wrapped up a Saturday afternoon autograph session last March, then sat out the historic track's spring event the next day as a precaution, watching from a hospital bed as fill-in driver Regan Smith wheeled his No. 42 Chevrolet.


"I remember, I got through the whole thing and right at the end, I was just talking to a fan and kind of just got light-headed and passed out," Larson said. "It was pretty weird, but it took me a little bit afterward to be able to remember the time from when I passed out to when I got to the care center."


Further evaluation, including a battery of tests from a Charlotte-area neurologist, pointed toward dehydration as the cause of Larson's fainting spell. But it also raised the issue of driver health and pre-race medical certification for NASCAR's participants.


That matter came under further scrutiny this week with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s announcement that he would donate his brain for medical research of sports trauma upon his passing. Larson welcomed the decision, saying the impact of helping the study of brain injuries could have a reach far beyond the world of motor sports.


"Any extra data you can get is great for us, great for the sport," Larson said. "We wreck a few times a year, we're not getting hit in the head as much as football players, but concussions still happen in our form of racing. For him to donate his brain hopefully may help and make every sport better."


Larson has more on his plate schedule-wise this weekend, joining GMS Racing to make his first career Truck Series start at the .526-mile bullring. But Larson said the decision to double-dip wasn't completely designed to make up for lost time last year.


"I think it's more so just because I've run here, this is my third year now and I still feel like this is probably the track where I run the worst at," said Larson, who has fared no better than a 19th-place finish in four Sprint Cup tries here. He'll start 17th in Sunday's 500-lapper.


"So to just be able to get more laps, I think helps a lot. So far today, I feel like it's helped. I was able to practice the truck before Cup practice, which helps get your rhythm. Hopefully it helps keep my rhythm before qualifying because normally you have such a big break before qualifying. In the race (Saturday), it'll just help my rhythm and help me understand how to pass better."

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