Kyle Larson likes chances of being champ, if he could just make it to final four

By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer

If Kyle Larson ever makes it to the final four … at Homestead-Miami Speedway, watch out.

After coming close to upstaging Jimmie Johnson in the championship race at Homestead two weeks ago, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver couldn’t help but wonder what could have been had he made it to the final round of the Chase.

“Homestead is probably my best race track,” said Larson, driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet. “So all along I knew if I could get to the final four at Homestead I’d have a shot at the championship.

“And as long as the championship race stays at Homestead and hopefully I make it to the final four someday, I feel like I have a really good shot to win the championship.”

Larson didn’t have a shot at Homestead this year as he was already out of contention. He ran in all three NASCAR series — Trucks, Xfinity and Cup — during the championship weekend and notched top-10 finishes in all of them. But it was the event in which he finished runner-up to Johnson that has him convinced he could one day be crowned champ at the South Florida track. Larson dominated the race, leading a race-high 132 laps.

“Like I said, Homestead is our best race track,” said Larson, who owns an 8.75 average finish at HMS in NASCAR’s No. 1 series. “It was fun to lead a lot of laps. We should have probably pulled out the win there if it wasn’t for those late cautions. So yeah, so maybe someday we could be the champion.”

Larson, 24, looked ready to be a champ as he broke through this season for his first career win at Michigan that sent him to his first Chase in NASCAR’s top series. He led a career-high 379 laps with 10 top 5s in 2016.

“I feel like our race team is pretty good and I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” he said.

Larson finished a career-best ninth in points and is looking to build on it in 2017.

“It was really nice to make the Chase for the first time,” he said. “Getting that win at Michigan there late to get locked in was huge. We had a good Chase. Definitely excited for next year and hopefully we can find a little more speed in our race cars and contend for a championship again.”

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