After a dominating performance on Saturday afternoon at Pocono, Kyle Larson showed once again that he has a boatload of talent. However, Larson also utilized his NASCAR Nationwide Series crew from Turner Scott Motorsports.
Larson’s crew, led by Scott Zipadelli, proved to be the difference maker in Saturday’s ARCA 200 at Pocono. The No. 4 car had a lead over Matt Tift at one point the event which surpassed 20 seconds – that’s nearly half of the entire Pocono Raceway.
After making a green flag pit stop, Larson received a pit road speeding violation – forcing his Chevrolet to have a pass-through penalty. Due to his large lead, Larson still held a five second lead over Tift. A large part of holding a 20 second lead was because of his Nationwide Series pit crew, who noticeably had about a five-10 second quicker pit stop compared to the rest of the top-10.
But with a car that was clearly going to be dominating this weekend with his Nationwide Series team, should he have raced on Saturday? Wouldn’t have participating in the ARCA Series test at Pocono been enough for the 21-year-old?
Well, on Friday Larson told Speedway Digest that he did not believe it was going to hurt him by racing the ARCA Series race. However, at the time, he believed it wasn’t helping him an exceptional amount considering the differences between the ARCA Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Not only does the ARCA Series use a different tire combination as they throw on Hoosier tires to their cars, but they also have less horse power than the Cup Series. In the Cup Series, drivers have been shifting at least two-four times per lap at Pocono. Moreover, the ARCA Series does not shift at all at Pocono besides on the restart. Larson even joked about how Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates was making his practice shifting by driving around town in a manual vehicle – a Chevrolet Camaro to be specific.
The only driver who was able to contend with Larson for the victory was Mason Mitchell. Mitchell led several laps after the final restart, but as the field was coming to two laps remaining in the 200-mile spectacle, Larson flew by Mitchell, who owns his own team – Mason Mitchell Motorsports. He ended up beating Mitchell by approximately one second.
Justin Boston and Matt Tift had strong cars that might have been able to contend with Larson, but they’re days came to an end early as both of them got into a wreck with 15 laps remaining in the event. Justin Allison also had a strong car, yet his No. 88 Ford was stuck in fourth gear and caused him to fall back mightily on the restart.
Larson might have dominated the race, but he stated that he learned a few things which could help him on Sunday for the Pocono 400. He had to maneuver through traffic for the majority of the day, and also had an intense battle with Mitchell. Another thing which Larson could have learned this weekend was the line which he takes going to pass drivers in the corners. But that is about all he could learn with such drastic differences in the two divisions.
The California native was 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice held early Saturday afternoon after running 25 laps – the third highest amount behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski. He was also inside of the top-10 in the second practice of the weekend, and was fourth of nine cars to run 10 consecutive laps.
Larson will start his first Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono in the 14th position.