Kyle Larson went from the back of the field to the front for the second-straight week.
Larson qualified first for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire. But his qualifying time was disallowed after his car failed post-qualifying inspection. So he started last.
Much like at Kentucky a week ago, Larson cut his way through the field. He had somehow cracked the top 10 by the lap 35 competition caution and finished the first stage in third.
After some varying pit strategies dropped him outside the top 20 at the beginning of stage two, Larson charged through the field again. And he got to second behind race-winner Denny Hamlin with 21 laps to go.
[Denny Hamlin wins at New Hampshire]
Larson started to cut the gap on Hamlin inside the last 15 laps of the race. But once he got close to Hamlin he couldn’t get close enough to make an attempt at a pass and ultimately finished second for the seventh time in 2017.
“I thought I was catching him at a good pace, but once I would get closer to him, I would get in his dirty air a little bit and get tight,” Larson said. “But, I felt like if I had maybe five, eight more laps I could have gotten to his back bumper and maybe did something. He is probably the best short track racer there is out here.”
At Kentucky, Larson made 90 passes and got to second on the green-white-checker restart behind winner Martin Truex Jr. after starting at the rear of the field because his car couldn’t get through pre-qualifying inspection.
And then it failed post-race inspection too. Larson was penalized 35 points midweek and his crew chief Chad Johnston was suspended for three races. Oh, and the penalty meant Larson lost the points lead to Truex. While the finishes have been good, it hasn’t been terribly smooth over the past eight days for the No. 42 team.
After finishing a spot ahead of Truex on Sunday at New Hampshire but missing out on some stage points, Larson is now 38 points behind Truex with seven races to go before the playoffs.
“It’s a little frustrating what we have had to go through the last couple of weeks, but it’s pretty awesome to be able to run as fast as we have and finish second the last two weeks from dead last,” Larson said.
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