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November 4, 2021

Kyle Larson

Press Conference

An Interview with:

KYLE LARSON: -- I mean, it's difficult for sure. Anytime you get a pit road with a curve in it, it makes it difficult because you're trying to push your lights and stuff, all that.

Yeah, so earlier this year, the first pit stop I sped like that first segment, then during the green flag stop you have a point when you get to the corner you can speed up because it's a longer distance, I got to my point a little too quickly. We definitely looked at that a lot this week, studied. Just try to execute better than I did earlier this year.

Q. Any concerns about that?

KYLE LARSON: No, honestly I think in a way it's good that I had those mistakes because it allowed us to dig deeper, to look at why I've made those mistakes, which both have been similar.

I think it makes me more conscious of what not to do, not to do it too quickly. I think it was honestly good that I sped twice earlier this year at the track we're racing the championship at, and leading into it, because it will give me a better awareness.

Q. What has the dynamic been like between you and Chase this week?

KYLE LARSON: It's been, I don't know, just exciting. Really it's the most time we've spent probably with each other all year just I think because we're competing in a championship together and doing stuff together.

Yeah, it's just cool, awesome for Rick to have a 50% shot of winning another championship. Hopefully Chase or I can get it done, bring another championship home.

Q. Hasn't been hush-hush or secrets?

KYLE LARSON: No, not at all. I mean, as far as the car side of things go, no. I think my team, the 9 team, every team really has been preparing their Phoenix car for a while now. Our teams do a good job of working together. I think that's really important.

As far as, like, Chase and I go, drivers go, I don't know, you don't talk that much about anything anyways. There's nothing to keep a secret about anyways.

Q. It's the same car you ran in the spring, right?

KYLE LARSON: I have no clue. Yeah, I don't know.

Q. I think I heard Cliff say that.

KYLE LARSON: Okay. We were really fast earlier this year. That's good.

Q. What do you feel about being fast earlier in the year?

KYLE LARSON: I didn't execute a good race at all earlier this year. I felt like my car was capable of winning that race, for sure.

Yeah, I'm excited to get back going and try to just execute a better race, hopefully to keep myself in position.

Q. What has been the greatest part of Cliff being part of your team?

KYLE LARSON: He's a really intense person, crew chief, really competitive. But his leadership skills are really good. I feel like the way he leads our team, his communication, is amazing.

He's just great at what he does. I'm very fortunate to be together with him. Our relationship has gone even better than I thought it would before the season started.

Q. What about the Braves? Are you a baseball fan?

KYLE LARSON: I'm not really. I mean, I'm definitely a playoff fan of every sport. I don't have a specific team at all. But, yes, I enjoyed watching the World Series. Owen has gotten into baseball this year. It was fun to watch with him, have him kind of express his knowledge and stuff a little bit, learning, watching.

Yeah, it was cool. I mean, I was definitely cheering for the Braves because Chase is a diehard Braves fan. I thought it would be cool to see them win.

Q. Is this a must-win situation?

KYLE LARSON: I mean, it's obviously not a must win, just the way that it is. You got to just beat the other three guys. Ever since they've gone to this format, you've had to win to win the championship.

Yes, I kind of think it is a must win for sure. I definitely think the four of us will be the four at the front. Yeah, I think the winner will be the champion, for sure.

Q. How are you dealing with the pressure this being your first time in the Championship 4?

KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I haven't treated it any differently than any other race. It hasn't so far felt any different. I haven't had any butterflies this week, which has been good. I didn't know how I would feel leading into this week's events.

I think I'm just really excited for the opportunity. Hopefully we can take advantage of the opportunity and win my first championship. This is something you always dream about, being in this position to win a championship. I'm just very happy, thankful, lucky to be sitting where I am right now talking to you guys, speaking about a championship.

Q. Do you think the lack of Championship 4 experience puts you in a disadvantage?

KYLE LARSON: Not at all. I don't think so. I think Chase proved last year that it doesn't matter.

Yeah, we've won the most races this year. So, yeah, I don't know, it's just try to treat it as another race.

Q. Is that because you've been in similar circumstances in the past? You've been in championship situations in the past.

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, it's been a long time since I've truly, like, raced for a championship. I don't really remember how I felt then. I won a Sprint car championship in 2010. I won the K&N championship in 2012. It's been almost a decade since I've been in this position to win a championship.

I feel like, though, if I was nervous then, I don't feel nervous now. Maybe that's just because of a lot more experience, confidence in the race team and stuff.

Q. Is that just your nature, you don't get nervous?

KYLE LARSON: No, not at all. I definitely get nervous for sure. Before Austin Nationals I was nervous. I'm sure once Sunday comes around I will have butterflies. Right now I haven't felt any, which is kind of nice. Helps keep you focused and not have bad thoughts creep into your mind.

No, I'm just really truly excited to have this opportunity.

Q. What is your relationship like with Chad Knaus?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I don't know, I've never, like, gone to dinner with him yet. No, I think, again, speaking about Cliff and his leadership, Chad as well. Cliff has learned so much off of Chad.

Seeing how Chad leads the competition meetings, you hear about how he is in the shop throughout the week, for me being new to Hendrick, it gives me a little glimpse into why Jimmie and him were so successful. He's just very driven, a great leader.

Yeah, I think his role at Hendrick Motorsports has fit perfectly for him. He does a great job at it. I think he's a big reason of why we've all four been fast this year.

Q. How involved is he with y'all?

KYLE LARSON: With the drivers?

Q. Yes.

KYLE LARSON: He's involved trying to get us organized with schedules and stuff when testing is coming around, who can do what and whatnot.

Before the season started I remember him reaching out a lot about fitness stuff, yeah. I don't know. He's more hands on with the crew chiefs and the teams and stuff than the drivers. Really I think the drivers are kind of -- they just do their own thing really. We all have our own kind of weekly routines and stuff, how you approach your weekend.

I think he trusts in our prep and believes that we're doing everything we can to go out there and compete.

Q. How do you describe the championship environment here in Phoenix?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I'm not sure. We just started this media day. It's my first time. I didn't ever get to experience what it was like in Miami and stuff.

I love Arizona. It's beautiful. I really enjoy it. Everything's nice out here, nice buildings, nice restaurants, nice people. I think this is a perfect place for it. Phoenix, having a sold-out crowd, I think the West Coast fans really love their NASCAR.

It's just, yeah, a great place. They do a great job with their facility in hosting the championship here.

Q. How great would it be to win it here on the West Coast, the Asian-American community as well?

KYLE LARSON: It would definitely mean a lot. I feel like if I could win, this is almost as close to home as it gets for me. I've got a lot of friends coming, my family, my parents, my sister, my kids, my wife, a lot of my best friends are coming to the race, a lot of sponsors from my dirt side of things are going to be here.

Personally, yes, it would mean even more I think to win it here. Yeah, too, for the Asian community, that would be something to be proud of. Yeah, it would be really neat.

Q. You're the only one that has never been in this position before. Does that matter? What is the pressure?

KYLE LARSON: I don't think it matters. Yeah, I think Chase proved last year it doesn't matter. As long as do a good job on the weekend, which we've been able to do kind of all year long, that's really what matters. I don't think not having Championship 4 experience really matters.

Q. Practice and qualifying this weekend, different from most weekends this year. What does that mean for you? How will you prepare for this weekend?

KYLE LARSON: So we've had practice a few times this year. The couple times we've had it on ovals it's more just been, you know, we haven't had to work on our car much. I hope it's that way tomorrow. We can kind of just get into a rhythm, figure out how the track is changing, stuff like that, plan ahead for adjustments you might need to make.

Excited about qualifying. We haven't qualified much this year, so it is a bit nerve-wracking. I think all of us are probably excited to go qualifying again.

Q. Is the fact that you have practice and can adjust the car, is there a concern you can overthink it?

KYLE LARSON: Yes, there's that. The practice is so short that you don't -- I don't believe you have a ton of time to dial yourself out. I think it's just one practice session. I feel like if there was two practice sessions, that would open up the opportunity with that break in between to throw big changes in the car. Yes, you could hit on something or dial yourself out.

Right now, hopefully everything is smooth, our car is handling right, because as of now we don't plan to really make many adjustments.

Q. Having clinched a spot in the Championship 4 already weeks back, what has the anticipation been like?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, it's been good to kind of look ahead to Phoenix. Here and there I watched film the last few weeks to kind of get familiar with the race, how it played out last year.

Yeah, good to know that you're getting the opportunity to race for a championship weeks ago was nice.

Yeah, I mean, I don't know. It was definitely nice to go to Martinsville and not have to worry about points or anything.

Q. Even talented drivers need good equipment to stay up front. Do you look at this season as one of those just great seasons where everything fell together, or is this the new normal for Kyle Larson?

KYLE LARSON: Well, I hope all of it. I hope this is the new normal. I would love to win nine races a year for the rest of my life.

I don't know. It's all about opportunity. I feel like I've been blessed with a great opportunity, with a great team, with Cliff Daniels leading it. Yeah, I mean, I think timing, too, is important.

Yeah, I mean, it's been really good. I'm glad that we've been able to take advantage of it.

Q. (Question about sponsor.)

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I used to compete with Tommy. We were actually big rivals when I was racing Sprint cars, probably when I was like 15, 16, 17. We just didn't get along. Raced hard. Wrecked each other a few times. He wanted to kill me one night at Tulare.

When he retired from full-time Sprint car racing, we became good friends. He became a big supporter of mine in the dirt side of things.

This year when he called me with the idea to sponsor the Cup car, I thought, No, that's not real, you can't do that. Man, it's been cool, really, really cool, to have him be a supporter on the Cup side of things, too. A primary sponsor at Vegas was awesome. Had a lot of people there.

Yeah, so he's coming in for the race on Sunday. I'm happy to have him coming. Yeah, I hope we can continue our -- I know we're going to continue our friendship for a long time. I hope we can continue the partnership in all of my racing for a long time, too.

Q. There's another championship next week, the USAC Championship here in Arizona. Did you ever race at Manzanita? What did you hear about that track?

KYLE LARSON: I actually ran my first-ever midget race there. Surprisingly, Tyler Reddick's dad was the owner of the car. Tyler wasn't old enough to race yet. I was only 13, 14. I ran my first-ever midget race at Manzanita on the little track. When you're a rookie, they would make you start last. I think I started 18th and ran up to 6th or something like that. That was cool.

I want to say I ran one of my first World of Outlaw races there. Our equipment was not half-mile capable, so I was super slow. I think I finished last. Then they tore the track down shortly after that.

I remember going to a lot of races there when I was a kid. My parents, we would drive from California to Arizona to watch the Sprint cars race. I miss that place. I know everybody does.

Yeah, Arizona definitely has a strong history for non-wing Sprint car racing especially.

Q. You brought a lot of dirt racing fans over. What is your reaction to that?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I get a lot of times fans, especially the dirt racers, will come up to me and say I'm the reason why they're watching NASCAR again. That makes me feel really good.

When I see at the racetrack NASCAR fans who might tell me they went to their first dirt race because of me, they love it now, that also makes me feel really good.

Seeing, too, the NASCAR race, any race I run, the kind of different T-shirts that people are wearing of mine, a lot of times at NASCAR races I'll see people wearing Sprint car shirts of mine, at the dirt races they'll have the No. 5 gear on.

Definitely makes me feel good. I feel like I'm doing something positive for the sport and growing it. That's really the ultimate goal of mine, is just to put this sport in a better spot the day I'm done than when I came in.

Q. A lot of crossovers of INDYCAR and NASCAR having a big weekend together. Would you like to do that with the World of Outlaws?

KYLE LARSON: The World of Outlaws, they just released their schedule. They're not going to Vegas. Typically they'll be at Vegas, running across the street later that weekend. Sprint cars run Wednesday, Thursday, something like that. Lakeside they'll run, which is only like 15 minutes from Kansas Speedway. The Outlaws were just there when we were there.

Yeah, I don't know. It takes a lot. Say they were to build a track in the infield, that would take a lot. Indy was able to do that. We run the BC39 race there. If they could do it on the same weekend or same week when all the fans are there for, say, the Brickyard, the INDYCAR weekend, that would be awesome.

It just takes a lot of hard work.

Q. What has been the fan reaction to NASCAR's Playoff format considering dirt racing is more year-long points? Have fans been shocked by that?

KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I haven't heard a fan say anything about it.

Q. We always hear drivers talk about how much it means to make the Championship 4, how hard it is. Any of that set in for you now that you're here?

KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I think for how good our team was, I didn't get to honestly, like, experience the toughness of the final round, right? We won the first two races. I never felt that high pressure in that final round, which was great.

I would much rather do that than go into Martinsville like Truex had to, the swing of emotions in the final 50 laps. I was watching it last week thinking I'm glad that I'm not having to deal with the emotions he's having to right now.

Yeah, I don't know. It's just a great opportunity. Either way I'm excited to compete for a championship.

Q. What about just reminding yourself to enjoy the experience being in this for the first time?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, definitely. Even I don't think any of us would be lying to you if we said we hate doing media, but I have been telling myself all week to really soak it all in and enjoy because who knows if I'll ever make another Final 4.

Definitely trying to enjoy it all, enjoy it with my friends and family and team. I've got a lot of friends coming in for the race. My kids and wife are here for the first time in a long time to watch me run a Cup race.

Yeah, just try to really enjoy it.

Q. When you talk about media, what have you learned this year, what has it been like to be more in front of the media?

KYLE LARSON: I'm not sure. I think with, like, all the bullpens and stuff we have now, I don't feel like I'm getting interviewed any more than I did before. I mean, we win more, so we go to the media center afterwards more often than I'm used to.

I don't know. I like talking about good things. There's been a lot of good things this year. Yeah, it's been good.

Q. Have your obligations upticked at all?

KYLE LARSON: No, I think because of COVID it still seems down. Hendrick Cars hasn't asked much of me. I'm not busy. Any events I have done for them this year, which has been 10 or more events, it's always extremely organized and really easy and fun.

Yeah, nothing's been like more difficult this year. If anything, it's all been not easier but just more positive stuff because we're running good.

Q. A year ago you were as far away from this moment as you could think of.

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, no, for sure. I mean, a little more than a year ago I didn't think I was going to be at the Daytona 500. Yeah, I definitely didn't think I was going to be competing for a championship.

See, like I've said a lot, I'm just very thankful for Rick Hendrick, what he was able to do, to put me in one of his race cars, the best race car in the series, and now compete for a championship.

Pretty surreal, for sure, seeing where I was a little more than a year ago.

Q. Is there any ambitions, anything you still want to do, crossover? Any ambitions of any other types of racing you want to do?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I don't know. Right now I'm just focused on this week and what I've got coming up in the next couple months. But, yeah, I mean, I'm still young. I'm still in my 20s. I would definitely entertain the thought of trying anything.

I think a lot of owners see that in me and would hopefully be willing to give me an opportunity in something if I wanted to try it. I'm not sure what exactly that is. Like I said, I'm open to try anything.

Q. Formula 1, Indy 500, do you say, Man, I would love to run one of those races?

KYLE LARSON: I would never turn down the opportunity. It's just tough with the obligations of being a full-time NASCAR driver. Even if those opportunities were out there, most of the time you couldn't do it just because you're so busy with what we do during the weeks, on the weekends in NASCAR.

Q. Do you feel any extra pressure going into this weekend, or is this just another race for you?

KYLE LARSON: So far I don't feel any extra pressure. I think that could change once we show up to the racetrack, you see all the cameras on you, all that. We have practice. I think if you're not fast, then you can feel the pressure. If you're fast, maybe you feel more pressure.

As of right now, I don't feel any different. Like I said, I think it could change later in the week.

Q. How much focus are you putting on qualifying and practice?

KYLE LARSON: Some. We're going to have our pre-event meeting here in a little bit with the five guys. But I've been at the shop a lot this week, talking with them. It doesn't seem like we'll do much different than we've done at the other events where we've had practice on ovals. Our car has been pretty good at those races. We've just been out there logging laps, seeing where the track trends, haven't made many adjustments during those practice sessions.

Qualifying is unique, too. We haven't qualified hardly at all this year. An opportunity to better your starting position and your pit stall selection, stuff like that. Just try and focus really hard, prepare, be ready.

Q. Do you feel there's anything that can hold you back, hinder you from getting the first title?

KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I mean, I don't think you can look at any of the four of us and really pick a favorite. A lot of the races I won this year are the 550 package, high downforce stuff. You could look at it maybe that's what would hinder me.

We've been good at the 750 races, too. I think it's pretty equal. Yeah, I'm excited to compete with these three other guys.

Q. Over the course of your career in the Cup Series, this car has been tinkered with a lot. What do you think it says about your ability to adapt as a race car driver?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, honestly everybody has. I don't think there's one person that was hurt by this high downforce, low horsepower package who used to be good in a higher horsepower car.

I don't know. I mean, I think my experience racing a lot of different cars maybe helps me adapt a little bit quicker. I think everybody gets to that point of their peak performance in that type of aero-engine package. Maybe I can just adapt a little bit quicker.

I don't know. Everybody is so good in the Cup Series. You could throw any kind of rules package at us, we're all going to get up to speed pretty quickly.

Q. Has the NextGen car you tested race like anything you've driven before?

KYLE LARSON: I've only made a handful of laps in it at the road course. I haven't been around other cars yet. I can't even give you an honest answer yet because I don't have enough experience yet to have an opinion on how it will race around people.

In the laps that I ran at the road course, it's got way more grip, slower top speed, but way better grip, tires, brakes, everything. You can carry a lot more speed in the corners. The slow stuff isn't as slow. It was fun.

Q. How does this week feel in comparison or similarity to the lead-in to big events like the Chili Bowl?

KYLE LARSON: Well, it's different. You don't have all this stuff for those races. I'd say that's different.

This feels more like Daytona, getting ready for Daytona or something. Yeah, I don't know. I don't know. It's really just started today, too. I mean, 30 minutes ago it started (laughter).

Q. How much do you wish the championship was still in Homestead right now?

KYLE LARSON: I don't care. I wished the championship was at Homestead with high horsepower and low downforce. I feel like I would be feeling really good about it then.

But with the high downforce, low horsepower package, I think a lot of my advantage at Homestead isn't really there anymore. I feel like I've got probably a better shot here at Phoenix than I would at Homestead.

Q. There's been a lot of pictures on social media this week. The one that sticks out in my mind is when you dressed up like Jeff Gordon. I guess it was Halloween.

KYLE LARSON: I think it was the first day of kindergarten (laughter).

Q. To kind of come full circle now, running for a championship for that guy, for Hendrick, have you had time to think about how far your career has come?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don't know. Who knows what I was thinking at five years old or whatever. I think, yeah, Jeff Gordon was like my favorite driver growing up. Getting to compete with him for a year I think. I think he retired in '14, ran some races in '15. To get to compete with him a little more than a year was really neat. Then become friends with him is really cool.

Too, I mean, when you're a young kid, you think all your heroes and stuff, they're not human. But getting to be around Jeff a lot, he's as normal as it gets. I think that's what's really cool about being in the position I am now, to see more of who he really is instead of just the extremely good race car driver and famous person that I wanted to meet someday. He's just a normal guy. I think that's I guess what I would take from that little kid to who I am now, getting to really learn.

Q. (Indiscernible) since you became part of the Hendrick cult?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don't know. I'm not sure, like, specific advice he's given me. I think just me knowing he's there for any of us if we ever need it. Yeah, I think on the business side of things, too, it's kind of where his career is at now. I think there's more advice on that side of things than really necessarily driving or something like that.

Yeah, I mean, he's a successful human being both in a race car but especially out of a race car. I think that's what I feel like I can take from him nowadays.

Q. This weekend is kind of billed the battle of the two biggest teams. Has there been any discussion about a split strategy so you can get Hendrick in the winner's circle?

KYLE LARSON: No, not at all. I doubt that there will be any split strategy.

Q. Any extra advice from Chase with winning last season?

KYLE LARSON: No. I mean, no advice. We haven't really seen him much. I don't know, like, what advice there is to give, right? It's another race. Same laps as it was earlier this year.

Yeah, I don't really know what advice he could give.

Q. How does it feel to go in as the favorite?

KYLE LARSON: Well, I mean, you guys might consider me the favorite, but I don't think any of us are a favorite. I think we're all pretty equal.

I don't view myself as being a favorite. I don't view any of us being a favorite.

Q. Did you watch the championship race last year?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, Hendrick has this really cool team center for, like, engineers and stuff at the shop. Yeah, I got to go there. That was my first time in that room. Yeah, I got to sit there and watch the race on all the TVs, looking at all the data they had to look at, to relay it to the teams at the track.

That was such a unique experience for me to be able to watch it from that side of things. I feel like that could -- it's not going to benefit me, but maybe I guess being there and seeing what else goes on, because I would never know what they do in that room. I would just hear about it. I actually got to see it.

Yeah, you see the excitement in everybody when Chase won. It was really cool.

Q. (Indiscernible) the road to this start that day?

KYLE LARSON: I definitely remember leaving that room that night after Chase won the championship, being way more excited. I was obviously really excited to be back in a Cup car. I remember walking out of that room thinking, Wow, I'm racing for the best team, they just won the championship, going into this season.

I was extremely pumped up for the season to start as soon as Chase won last year.

Q. After you won in Kansas, you reflected on the early part of your career, how you might have been viewed as the overhyped driver in Cup. You've gone through that. What does this week feel like?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I think this year has felt good to prove to myself that I am who I thought I could be, I guess prove to a lot of people I am what I thought I could be.

Competing for a championship ultimately verifies all that.

Yeah, I've been super successful in everything else that I've raced, but haven't gotten to show it in Cup. Glad I could come into great equipment and show what I thought I was capable of doing.

Q. Denny said he thrives on chaos. The more the better for him. What do you thrive off of?

KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I'm not sure. I don't know. I don't really, like, read into what I thrive in or what makes me thrive or anything.

I think just racing, knowing I've got a race coming up, makes me thrive to prepare for it. Yeah, I mean, everybody handles it different. Denny, he's definitely got a hectic life.

Q. Are you doing anything different this week to prepare for this race versus any other Cup race?

KYLE LARSON: No, not at all. The week's shorter. I mean, you got to kind of start looking at stuff earlier in the week. On other weekends, we just show up and race. I won't do, like, a whole lot of studying before we have our team meeting on Thursdays, sometimes Fridays.

Like this week, I've been watching a lot and stuff. Then usually I would watch a lot like the night before the race just to be really fresh. Now I got to do that all early in the week to be ready for practice, still do a lot of that throughout the weekend.

Q. By the end of the day Sunday, do you think having practice and qualifying will have played a role in the championship?

KYLE LARSON: I'm not sure. It could, for sure. But in the other oval races we've had practice, Nashville and Charlotte, I don't think practice played a role at all in the race. Maybe for qualifying because we can do a mock run and stuff, get familiar with that.

As far as the race goes, it didn't seem like it played out or had an effect on the race. I don't think it would here, but it could.

Q. Do you prefer either way? Would you have preferred either way?

KYLE LARSON: I mean, I look at it both ways. I'm glad that we can practice so you can get an idea of how your car is, where you stack up with the other guys. At the same time, yeah, I mean, practice is an opportunity for others to get better. I feel like we've done a really good job this year of just showing up and racing.

Part of me wishes we could have just did that again, but like I say, you can kind of take it either way.

Q. Truex was talking about his 2017 season, and kind of similar to you, you've had this year, going into this race with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Do you feel like that, like you have to win this championship to complete the season?

KYLE LARSON: I don't. I haven't yet. I don't think I will. I feel like the way I've felt about it is we've had a great season already.

Yes, for sure we want to win the championship. But if not, it's still been a great season and one to be proud of.

I don't know. I don't feel the weight of my shoulders -- the weight of all this on my shoulders. I think that's a good thing. But I don't know. Just trying to treat it as another race. I'm trying not to read too far into anything.

Q. At what point did you feel the 5 team was the best team in the Cup Series?

KYLE LARSON: I don't know what specific moment. Was Atlanta before Vegas? I can't remember. Either way it was early in the year. It was early in the year. Sometime, Atlanta or Vegas, I felt like we had a great -- I knew we had a great team before the season started, but once we started dominating those couple races, I knew we had probably the best team.

Denny was doing a better job finishing top fives and stuff every week than me at that point, but, yeah, I knew my car was really good. My pit crew was doing a great job, Cliff, everybody. Yeah, I had confidence from early on this the season.

Q. Is there a point on Sunday the teamwork goes out the window and it becomes every team for itself?

KYLE LARSON: I mean, every race, as soon as the green flag drops, it kind of is. So yeah, I mean, I don't view it any differently I guess in that aspect.

Q. All the way back at Indy you were already being asked what it felt like to be considered the favorite for the championship. You said at the time, We have a long way to go. What does it feel like to go into a Cup Series race and have that label attached?

KYLE LARSON: I don't read into it really because I don't feel like I'm the favorite. I don't feel like any of us are a favorite.

Yeah, I think as long as I don't believe that, then it's fine, yeah.

Q. What do you think is the greatest advantage going into this weekend to win? Why do you think your team is going to win?

KYLE LARSON: I'm not sure. I don't know. I don't really know. Maybe just the experience of winning a lot this year and the confidence that that brings.

I don't know.

Q. Does it feel like it's you against the other four or that it's two teams against each other?

KYLE LARSON: No, I definitely think it's us versus the other three guys, for sure. Obviously if I can't win, I want to Chase to win. But I'm going to race Chase just as hard as I'm going to race Denny and Martin.

Q. What is the respect level between the four of you?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, I can't speak on how they feel about me. Yeah, I mean, I respect the heck out of the three competitors and their talents. I'm really looking forward to battling each of them. I feel like it's the best four teams that are in the Final 4.

Chase and Martin being past champions, Denny being as close as he's been a few different times to winning championships, how consistent he's been this year. I think we all respect each other a lot. At least I feel like I respect everybody a lot.

Q. What can you say about the entire 5 team's efforts this year?

KYLE LARSON: I think that stems from Cliff's leadership, how he holds everybody to a high standard, all that.

Yeah, it's been nice to come down pit road and be confident in your guys, knowing that you're going to have a good stop, being confident in your race car, your race team, that it's going to be fast when you show up to the racetrack.

I mean, it's kind of what you would imagine Hendrick Motorsports, any team at Hendrick Motorsports, being like.

Q. Does Owen almost expect anytime he goes to the racetrack with you it's going to (indiscernible)?

KYLE LARSON: No. Maybe a dirt race. He hasn't been to any of the Cup races I've won this year. He was able to come to Victory Lane at Charlotte, but he had a baseball game that day. So, no, actually a month, month and a half ago, he was like, Dad, why don't you ever win a NASCAR race? You always finish second when I'm there.

Yeah, hopefully that will change this weekend with him there.

Q. Doesn't Audrey cheer for William Byron?

KYLE LARSON: Loves William Byron. We had a little team outing at the shop on Tuesday. William was there. I brought my kids. She got to go take a picture with William. She was too shy to talk. She was embarrassed. She was, like, pushing me and hitting me. She was acting goofy I think because she was nervous.

Loves William Byron. Yes, she cheers for William way more than she cheers for me.

Q. How crazy do you think restarts could be on Sunday?

KYLE LARSON: I think, yeah, they'll for sure be crazy. They always are at Phoenix because of the dogleg, how open it gets. Yeah, I don't know.

It could be just as crazy. I think it could be less crazy. I think of what's at stake for four guys. I think the other drivers kind of respect that a little bit more so than they would at the race here in March, March it is I think.

So, yeah, I mean, I think it could be just as crazy or less. I don't see it more crazy than normal.

Q. In the spring you had a really fast car. All the passes you made, is that something that weighs on you?

KYLE LARSON: No, I think honestly I answered that question a little bit ago. The way I answered it, I'm honestly glad that I have those two speeding penalties there earlier this year and I'm glad I had two speeding penalties last week at Martinsville because it kind of raises your awareness. You study it a lot harder going into this week. You look at why you made those mistakes. You're just more conscious and aware every time you come down pit road now to not make those mistakes.

Q. Denny is on fire over there. His confidence is through the roof. Have you seen that from him?

KYLE LARSON: I haven't been with him much this week. But when you said 'fired up' or whatever, I thought he was still fired up about Martinsville.

Q. He's fired up about everything. He said his tank is full with motivation.

KYLE LARSON: That's cool.

Q. You compete against him in golf. He also said he started racing you a lot harder in the summertime. How do you two race each other?

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don't know. What's that?

Q. You're friends and...

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I don't race him any differently. I feel like I race everybody with respect. I feel like he races with respect, too.

I don't know. Yeah, I mean, there was definitely a couple weeks in a row in the summer where he put us both in some tight situations where I kind of had to bail out of the throttle; otherwise, we were both going to wreck. That's because we were getting close to the regular-season points stuff.

But I think I do a good job of separating that from off track. Nothing he did was dirty or anything on the track, it was just I feel like a lot of times you could maybe get upset on the track and you don't talk to each other, you don't like each other for a couple weeks or something off the track. I'm not like that.

I look forward to racing with him as well as Chase and Martin.

Q. He said he's part of a dying breed of drivers like him and Kevin Harvick, other drivers don't have respect. Do you see that? Do you notice a difference?

KYLE LARSON: Like other drivers, they race with respect, but others don't?

Q. Yes. Tough guys.

KYLE LARSON: They're the tough guys?

Q. Yes.

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, yeah (laughter).

I don't know. I mean, he's not Tony Stewart for sure.

Q. Make sure you tell him that.

KYLE LARSON: Don't spin it the wrong way there, okay (laughter)?

Q. He is Tony Stewart in that he admits he lives and thrives in chaos.

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, yeah, he does.

Q. He says in the car he's flat line, he doesn't get too hot --

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, for sure. I see that. I see that.

Honestly, I see that in all four of us. I feel like we all kind of have similar personalities. Some of our lives are a little bit crazier than others'.

Yeah, I don't know, when Tony leaves the sport, I feel like somebody wants to take that role. Like when Dale Sr. passed away, I feel like Tony took that role. When Tony left, I feel like we're in between who's the next Tony to teach younger guys respect.

I would say Kevin is more that guy than Denny, but... I mean, Denny, I feel like the years I've been in Cup, I've seen a change in him in how he leads all the drivers really in meetings and stuff like that.

I feel like he does a good job of teaching young drivers. We're all worried about racing and driving. He kind of opens your eyes to, How do we grow the sport?

Q. How are you going to get Chase in a Sprint car?

KYLE LARSON: So, yeah, I helped organize -- I don't know if you saw he's running a Sprint car. I helped organize that. He's racing for Tommy Tarlton, who sponsored my Cup car.

He's going to run his car at Merced. I think he'll adapt even better to a Sprint car than even the midget just because, like, we race in dirty air all the time in Cup cars. In Sprint cars, it's the same kind of concept. I think he'll understand the dirty air side of it.

Q. Are you running Turkey Night?

KYLE LARSON: Yes. Is it really Turkey Night? It's not on Thanksgiving, so I don't think it is.

Q. Bob asked Chase about it. Chase said there were more details to be worked out.

KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, maybe there is.

Q. He'll do it, though.

KYLE LARSON: Maybe. Don't report it until...

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