The Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, wasn’t exactly fun for the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champ, Kyle Larson.
After damaging his car in practice, Kyle was forced him to start at the back of the pack, and in the early going, it didn’t really get much better from there.
He spun out, he hit the wall, he spun out again, caught on fire, hit the wall again, pit road penalties… it was ROUGH. So much so that Kyle hopped on the radio and called it the worst race of his life:
“I think this has been the worst race of my life and we’re not even halfway.”
And then after one of those spinouts, Cliff Daniels, the Crew Chief of the #5 car, asked if it was an aero issue, and a deflated Kyle Larson responded:
“No, I don’t think so. I just spun… I just suck. Me, as a driver, I just suck.”
OOF… my man is not doing good.
Knowing this was a 600 mile race, and there was a whole lot more of it left, Cliff got back on the radio and lit a fire under Kyle’s ass:
“In the first half, all I want you to remember is how good TV we made. We went from the back to the front more times than I can count. We hit the wall, we spun out, we literally caught on fire. We were also the most penalized team on pit road in the first half.
All that means is that in the second half, already we’re going to be starting way better than what we started the first half. We’ve got to go execute right now, so I don’t know what the hell you’re worried about, but I’m fine, the team’s fine.
Everybody down here is nodding their heads and giving a thumbs-up, so let’s go.”
Kyle and company worked their way back to the front of the pack and were battling for the win with Chase Briscoe with just two laps remaining. Chase spun out, and put Kyle in the lead, but then the caution came out.
Kyle was leading on the first overtime restart when Austin Dillon went on a monster run.
And then… he wasn’t completely clear and wound up taking out half the field.
Kyle wound up finishing 9th, but after the first half of the Coke 600 being “the worst race of his life,” not a bad finish, eh?
But then again, this is why Kyle Larson is last year’s champion… when you think he’s out of the race, when you haven’t heard his name all night unless it’s about running into the wall… he’s never out of the race.
It’s all about resilience, and he chalked it up to Cliff:
“I think a lot of it has to do with Cliff. He’s just the best leader in the garage area, and I’m glad that we have him as part of our team.
So yeah, he did a great job keeping me in the game, our pit crew in the game and gave us a shot to win.”
For more from the radio, check out this week’s edition of NASCAR: Radioactive.