Apr 7, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT
Pop quiz: What Sprint Cup driver has two top-fives and one other top-10 finish in the last four races?
If you picked Kyle Busch, you were kind of half-right.
Hard as it may seem to believe, Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson has been the hottest and most consistent driver in the series since Bristol four races ago.
He finished 10th at Bristol, second at Fontana (also won the Nationwide Series race there that same weekend), 27th at Martinsville and rallied back for a fifth-place showing in Monday’s rain-postponed Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
And in doing so, not only was he the top-finishing rookie of the race, the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet jumped four spots in the Sprint Cub standings, climbing from 19th to 15th.
If the Chase for the Sprint Cup were to start tomorrow, Larson would be in the field of 16. Think about that.
Larson is doing so well of late, that all he’s missing is his first career Sprint Cup win. And even though the series is going to the uber-difficult Darlington Raceway this coming weekend, Larson has just the right amount of talent and moxie to win at the so-called “track too tough to tame.”
“I think so,” Larson said when asked if he thinks he’s ready to win in NASCAR’s marquee series. “I feel like we’ve been a top‑10 car most races.
“We were good at Bristol, good at Fontana, good here. I think if we just keep keeping ourselves in contention, things will work out late in the races or we might have a dominating car one day and get our first win.
“I feel like right now it could come at a 1.5-mile or a little bit bigger track (Darlington is 1.366 miles around). Hopefully that comes soon because there’s a lot on the schedule.”
Larson might have finished a bit higher Monday – maybe fourth or even third – but wasn’t able to get any forward movement following the final restart.
“I’m happy we didn’t lose any spots,” Larson said. “A little bit disappointed we didn’t gain any because we were on four fresh tires.
“The 24 (runner-up Jeff Gordon) and 55 (fourth-place Brian Vickers) had two and beat us. All in all, a pretty good day. Going on to Darlington, a track I really like, and try to do even better.”
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