June 13, 2021
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
An Interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the winner of tonight's NASCAR All-Star Race, and that is Kyle Larson. Kyle, just a quick opener, lots of rounds, lots of inversions but also lots of action, lots of passing, which was the reason for those rounds and inversions. Exciting race. Congratulations. Please take us through the action tonight.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, first off, I'm just glad Brandon Overton wasn't here to take any more of our money. He was really good this week at Eldora, so good to get a win in something.
Yeah, no, it was fun, I thought. That first segment there I thought I kind of fell back to third maybe, second or third, and I was like, man, it's Texas, it's going to be hard to pass. But was able to get to the lead again, win that segment, and then I was like, okay, I think I've got a good car to be able to drive up, and that was not the case. I was really tight in traffic, and we had to take a really big swing at it.
The third round I actually went backwards in the second one so we took a huge swing at it, and I'm not really sure what happened that segment.
But anyways, after that one, we kept making huge swings, and then I noticed that the guys who had finished up in front and started in the back of the invert didn't move forward, so I was like, well, we're probably not bad in points here.
Then for that fourth one, I knew as long as I finished second I was going to be second points lineup for the fifth round there, and that worked out good. We were able to get out and get running and stretched out and ended up lining us up for third going into that final stage.
I definitely wanted to be third because I wanted to be able to choose the outside. I feel like you have more options when you go there. That restart just worked out perfect where Chase kind of got choked up and I was able to get to his back bumper and push him past the 12 to get him a little bit clearer, and he kind of shaded left a little bit much, and I poked through the outside and had about -- almost all fours but both right sides above where we had been running and I kind of eyeballed it under yellow and I was like, you know what, we have a 10-lap run and there's no points on the line, I'm going to go for it if I get the chance, and if I wreck, I wreck. But I think there will be enough grip. It worked out there was.
Yeah, that was just really cool.
Q. With this format, were you able to get in any sort of a rhythm? Were you confused? It seemed a little disjointed watching it. Did you feel there was a flow?
KYLE LARSON: So I honestly looking at the format before I got out there, like you said, I thought they were going to be too short of ones where you couldn't get into a flow and you couldn't really pass.
I think at least for me, when it strings out, I can pass people easier that way, but the drafts were so big that you could make up ground for, gosh, 10 laps or so, and then it seemed like people -- your tires would start fading and it got harder to pass.
I don't know what other people think. I actually kind of enjoyed it. I don't know if this format, I don't know if this is an event now we're going to take to other tracks each year or not, but I don't know if this is a format that will work at every track, but I feel like for Texas it worked, and I think the mandatory green flag stop at the end was kind of cool, the inverts were nice, not knowing exactly what the invert number was going to be kept you wanting to progress even if you were anywhere inside the top 12. You wanted to progress.
I thought it was okay. I don't know what the other competitors and fans thought of it. And you, Bob.
Q. Are you concerned at all about your teammates thinking you're winning too much? If you know what I mean by that. Are you concerned that they'll get frustrated that they have the same equipment and you're beating them?
KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I mean, who's to say? I think for me, I mean, I guess I'm the one winning so I've got a different view of it, but our team, our overall Hendrick Motorsports is winning. When William won Homestead I was pumped; when Alex has gotten his couple wins I've been pumped. Even getting beat by him at Dover, I was excited for him. When Chase won at COTA, I was in position to win the race and the rain came out, and I was still happy for him and the team.
As long as our organization is winning, I'm cool with it, and so far I think we all are, as well. If we can keep running good and working together, we'll be -- all four of us will be hard to beat. So we've just got to keep that up.
We have talks about it throughout the week, and yeah, I think those are great conversations to have and get ahead of things.
Like I said, I enjoy racing with my teammates. We race hard together. I thought we raced great today to kind of set us up to be up in the front, to give at least three opportunities to win this race going into that final 10 laps.
Yeah, I think we've worked well together. Obviously it's proven, we've all been up front these last month and a half or so.
Q. Brandon Overton won 273,000. You won over a million and didn't have to work two nights for it.
When you got out of the car you seemed happier. I haven't seen you this happy since winning the Chili Bowl. I'm just kind of wondering what was it about this event? I know you like big events and I know you like big checks, but what was it just that had you so elated when you stepped out of the car?
KYLE LARSON: Well, I think because there was points in the race that I didn't think I was going to win. I think through the second and third rounds there, I was like, you know what, I'm just out here logging laps, I'm not going to be able to win tonight. My car is not driving nearly as good. I'm getting passed by people. I can't pass cars that we lapped typically. I was like, there's no way.
But then I kind of got that glimmer of hope when I looked up and I noticed that the 18 and the 9 hadn't passed anybody in that one stage, so I was like, we're going to line up front, and now that I ran that whatever segment that was where I was kind of towards the front, I was like, you know what, my car is getting better.
So then yeah, I think I was so excited because there was a while where I didn't think I'd win, and then to go and steal it there in a shootout from Chase Elliott, who's to me in my opinion like the most aggressive and best restarter -- one of the best restarters, especially from the front row. That was really cool. And to win a lot of money is awesome, too.
Q. Also curious about the PJ1. You really used it to your advantage except when you broke the draft on Keselowski to really jump out and give an advantage for him. But the PJ1 really seemed to come in and be the place -- it seemed like the groove to be in tonight.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, yeah. I saw Dale Jr., I think he tweeted something about maybe it's time to either not put it down or potentially move it up the racetrack, and I would kind of agree with that now after running. It gets so grippy, and we know that it's got so much grip, I think it's almost too low and too fast in 1 and 2. 3 and 4, I don't know if we'll be able to move up much more than where we were at already.
I think for sure I would like to see coming back in the fall -- I don't really know what the weather will be like. If it's weather, then yeah, for sure I think we probably need to move it up some, but yeah, it was a ton of grip up there for sure. 3 and 4 it's so easy to run that you don't really even notice the VHT.
Q. Your teammates may or may not be frustrated, but it seems like your competitors. Brad Keselowski says you guys are too fast. How do you respond to a competitor saying things like that?
KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I'm not the one that works on the car, so I think that's a big credit to Hendrick Motorsports and everybody back at the shop, the engine shop, because they've been putting in the work.
It's a shame we've got only half a season or whatever left with this package, but I think next year we'll be hopefully just as good.
Q. You're one of eight people now to win multiple All-Star Races and everybody on the list is a former champion or a Hall of Famer. Curious if you've had any -- what does that mean to you to have an accomplishment like that and be associated with legends of the sport like that?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, you're right. I hadn't thought of it. But yeah, it's cool, but the races are hard to win and championships are even harder to win. We've just got to keep working really hard. This is definitely the best opportunity I've ever had to win the championship. But there's still a long season left, and other cars and teams are going to get better, and so will we. Just got to keep working hard, and hopefully we can have ourselves in position come October or November.
Q. I don't know if you've spent the million dollars you won a couple years ago, but do you have any idea how you're going to spend this million?
KYLE LARSON: I'm going to save for sure.
Q. Kind of following up, you're the first driver I believe over the history of the All-Star Race to have won it at two different tracks. Given how many drivers have won this race and how few tracks we've gone to in that time, how has it taken only until now for that to happen?
KYLE LARSON: I don't know, probably because it stayed at Charlotte for so long, for a couple generations, I think, or so.
Yeah, I don't know. It was fun to watch it at Bristol last year. I've always believed that the All-Star Race should move around to different tracks and stuff, kind of like how other sports, their All-Star games kind of move to different venues and things.
Yeah, we'll see if that's something that they do. I think all of us drivers would love to see that, but yeah, it's cool to be one of the few guys that have now won it at a couple different tracks.
Q. Where does this win rank? You've won a lot of big races. Where does this one rank?
KYLE LARSON: Ooh, I don't know. It's hard to really think about right now. My emotions were really high for sure. Gosh, as soon as I took the lead, my foot is wide open and I can feel it shaking. It obviously means a lot to win.
But I don't know where yet to rank it. It's definitely up there. Purse-wise it's in the top two now of purse races I've won.
Really cool to win any crown jewel in any sport, but in NASCAR especially.
Q. How does it feel right now? It seems no matter what you get in, you're up front, you're winning, you're 10 feet ball and bulletproof, at least the last couple of weeks. What does it feel like as a race driver to be in this kind of a groove with good equipment and be on top of your game?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, I mean, it's great for sure. I think it's a credit to all the race teams that I get to race for. I'm in some of the best equipment, and any time I sit in a race car, I'm in some of the best if not the best equipment out there. Paul Silva prepares -- and I believe he's the best sprint car mechanic, so his sprint car is amazing. Kevin Rumley, who I got to spend all week with at Eldora, he's a genius. His cars are always good, too, and then obviously my 5 team is unbelievable.
Just very fortunate to be in these cars. I've worked really hard to put myself in the best equipment. But yeah, it's definitely enjoyable for sure.
Q. How did this battle with Keselowski compare to any you've had with him before? I'm just wondering because for as strong as you guys have been, I wondered if you saw a little bit more desperation or a little bit more aggressiveness maybe than what you had in maybe some other battles with Brad or if this was a typical battle?
KYLE LARSON: I think it was a typical battle with any competitor. He didn't seem -- like it didn't matter to me that it was Brad behind me. It could have been anybody, and I think it would have been the same. I haven't seen a replay at all so I don't really know what was happening behind me. I could watch my mirror a little bit in 3 and 4, but 1 and 2 I was just focused on my marks. I think I felt him maybe try to take the air off my rear into 1 once. I got a little bit light getting into 1.
It's hard to pass the leader for sure, and I could tell he was going to have to get desperate to do something and get a run on me. But thankfully our car was fast enough, he just couldn't get those extra few feet.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, have a great night and good luck next week in Nashville.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports