Unlike Other Competitors, Larson Won’t Get Fighting Mad

Kyle Larson sits in his car during practice for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Kyle Larson can’t imagine getting angry enough to take a swing at another driver—because of the potential consequences.

Naturally enough, the fisticuffs between Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and their crew members made for animated conversation at Phoenix International Raceway — site of Sunday’s Camping World 500 – where the chief combatants were summoned to a Friday morning your-attendance-is-required meeting in the NASCAR transporter.

After Logano’s Ford collided with Busch’s Toyota on the final lap last Sunday at Las Vegas, Busch launched an overhand right at Logano on pit road and the melee followed.

Larson, on the other hand, can’t see himself in a similar situation. Most sources list Larson as 5-foot-6, 130 pounds, but both those numbers may be generous.

“Look at how big I am,” Larson said with a chuckle. “I can’t do that. Joey has got probably about two feet longer reach on me, too. No, but, I’m not the fighting type. I don’t think I’ve ever been mad enough that I have ever wanted to punch somebody, mainly probably because I’m scared that I am the one that is going to get beat up.

“No, I don’t know. Maybe I’m small enough, too. … I’m a lot smaller than most of the other drivers that maybe they will see the disadvantage while they are walking over to my car and won’t punch me. But that was pretty exciting last week.”

Ryan Blaney likewise said he doesn’t have the temperament for fighting, but he could see himself getting angry enough to want to throw a punch.

“Yeah, anyone can get that upset,” Blaney said. “The Pope can get that upset. It’s human nature. Anyone can get that upset to do that. Whether you act on it or not, that’s your own personal choice you make. It’s just passionate racers.

“People have passion for certain things, and sometimes the passion gets the best of you.”

Tire Issue Sends Hamlin To Rear For Sunday’s Race

Denny Hamlin got “screwed” during the first round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying.

No, another competitor didn’t impede Hamlin’s progress on his run. Crew chief Mike Wheeler described what happened in a tweet on Friday night.

“Ran over a screw in Q1, came in 15 psi lower,” Wheeler posted about the cut tire that resulted. “NASCAR no longer allows changes. Tried to pump up for Q2, but didn’t work. Bummer. #startinglast”

During the offseason, NASCAR instituted a rule requiring drivers to start the race on their qualifying tires, and tires may be changed only in the case of a factory defect.

With the pumped-up tire, Hamlin nevertheless qualified 19th. Though he’ll have to start from the back of the field in Sunday’s Camping World 500 because of the tire change, he will retain the pit stall he earned with the 19th pick.

Hamlin tweeted that the rule “bit us big time. Run over something, get a flat, can’t continue (although we tried) and have to start in the back for it.”

Short Strokes

-Early in Saturday’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scraped the outside wall at Phoenix International Raceway after his brakes failed. Unlike last week at Las Vegas, however, Stenhouse didn’t have go to a backup car. His team changed the brakes and repaired the cosmetic damage before Stenhouse returned to the track. He was 23rd fastest in the session and improved to 20th on the speed chart during Happy Hour.

-Chase Elliott led Saturday’s first practice session with a lap at 135.977 mph, followed by Joey Logano (135.466 mph), the polesitter for Sunday’s Camping World 500. Kyle Larson was third fastest at 135.323 mph. With ambient temperatures reaching 95 degrees for final practice, Logano paced the session at 134.736 mph, with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch second and third, respectively.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Phoenix International Raceway – Avondale, AZ
Camping World 500 – March 19, 2017

Sunday’s Starting Line Up

1. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 137.321 mph.
2. (21) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 136.877 mph.
3. (88) Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chevrolet, 136.783 mph.
4. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 136.654 mph.
5. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 136.302 mph.
6. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 136.193 mph.
7. (24) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 136.152 mph.
8. (77) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 136.137 mph.
9. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 135.926 mph.
10. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 135.859 mph.
11. (41) Kurt Busch, Ford, 135.839 mph.
12. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 135.695 mph.
13. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 135.731 mph.
14. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 135.624 mph.
15. (13) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 135.603 mph.
16. (78) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 135.532 mph.
17. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 135.405 mph.
18. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 135.349 mph.
19. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 135.166 mph.
20. (47) A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 135.019 mph.
21. (17) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 134.973 mph.
22. (31) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 134.821 mph.
23. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 134.469 mph.
24. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 134.394 mph.
25. (95) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 133.889 mph.
26. (10) Danica Patrick, Ford, 133.789 mph.
27. (19) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 133.764 mph.
28. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 133.467 mph.
29. (34) Landon Cassill, Ford, 133.309 mph.
30. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 133.195 mph.
31. (83) Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 133.062 mph.
32. (72) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 133.033 mph.
33. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 133.013 mph.
34. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 132.935 mph.
35. (15) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 132.052 mph.
36. (23) Gray Gaulding #, Toyota, 131.488 mph.
37. (55) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 129.218 mph.
38. (33) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 128.032 mph.
39. (51) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 126.596 mph.

 

About Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service