A costly pit-road speeding penalty dashed Kyle Larson’s chances to win late in last week’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, marking another missed opportunity to win on a 1.5-mile track.
After winning Stage 1, Larson was the leader when a caution flag flew for Kyle Busch on Lap 223 of 325. That’s exactly when Larson sped on pit road, and so after leading 142 circuits, Larson had to restart at the tail end of the field. He could only manage a recovery of 12th place.
Speeding on pit road is not the norm for Larson. In 2018, the No. 42 driver only received one penalty for the same offense. But unfortunately for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, what has become more of a trend is his inability to close the deal at intermediate tracks where he has dominated much of the race.
Larson is winless in the last six events where he has led the most laps, dating back to Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2017, along with races at Bristol, Kansas, Darlington and the Charlotte Roval in 2018.
Still, Larson does have some statistics to make a his case that a victory is coming, despite failing to score a 1.5-mile win so far in his career — a streak that could begin Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Although Larson ranks second on the all-time list for most laps led (725) on 1.5-mile tracks without a victory behind Bobby Isaac’s 727-lap mark, he is in some good company when it comes to the number of second-place results before winning on intermediates. That list includes the likes of 2017 champion Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer:
|Kyle Larson||8||No win|
|Bobby Isaac||6||No win|
|Martin Truex Jr.||5||Charlotte (5/16)|
|Jeremy Mayfield||4||No win|
|Clint Bowyer||4||Charlotte (10/12)|
It likely is only a matter of time before Larson starts breaking into Victory Lane at tracks that make up the majority of the schedule.
If Larson can minimize mistakes, build on veteran prowess brought to the table with new teammate Kurt Busch and become a quick-study as the full rules package goes into effect this weekend, you can expect the tides to turn very quickly.
The 26-year-old is too much of an all-around racing talent for it not to happen eventually.