Richmond Presents a Rebound Opportunity for Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Getty Kyle Larson will aim to rebound at Richmond Raceway.

Kyle Larson has struggled to finish races in 2022 while defending his NASCAR Cup Series championship. He is in the playoffs with a win, but he sits well behind teammate Chase Elliott in the championship standings. However, he will have an opportunity to rebound at Richmond Raceway.

Heading toward the race weekend, Larson sits in a tie for third place in the BetMGM standings. He joins Joey Logano, William Byron, and Denny Hamlin with 10-1 odds while Elliott tops the list at 8-1. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. sit in a tie for second at 9-1. All of these Cup Series standouts have had strong performances at Richmond in the past, but Elliott tops the list with his consistency in the Gen 7 car.

Larson has made 14 starts at Richmond Raceway in his Cup Series career, primarily with Chip Ganassi Racing. He has performed consistently with at least a top-10 finish in 42.9% of his starts and only one finish outside of the top 20 — a DNF in 2019. Larson also has two Pole Awards and a 2017 win to his name.

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Larson’s Last Trip to Richmond Featured Consistency

Kyle Larson

GettyKyle Larson (right) turned in a solid performance at Richmond Raceway.

While Larson has not won at Richmond since the 2017 season, he turned in a strong performance during the opening round of the 2021 Cup Series playoffs. He led eight laps before finishing sixth overall to move on to the next round by virtue of points. More importantly, he avoided incidents that plagued other drivers during the race.

Martin Truex Jr., who won the playoff race, received a penalty at the very start of the race by beating the leader across the start line. He lost his position in the field, but he rebounded in order to lead 80 laps and secure his spot in the second round.

Kyle Busch experienced similar issues. He led 39 laps and was in contention for the win with 55 laps remaining, but he received a penalty for speeding on pit road. He recovered and finished ninth overall. Chase Elliott, who finished fourth, fell a lap down at the end of Stage 2 due to a 36-second pit stop in which he knocked the No. 9 off of the jack.

Larson, for comparison, only had one major issue during the trip to Richmond Raceway. He failed pre-race inspection twice and had to drop to the back of the inside line. He won the Busch Light Pole, but he actually started near the middle of the pack before working his way through the field.

Larson’s 2022 Campaign Has Featured Multiple Issues

The driver of the No. 5 turned in a dominant performance during the 2021 season. He won 10 points-paying races, the All-Star Race, and the Cup Series championship. This set him up to be the favorite entering the 2022 season, but he hasn’t been able to repeat.

A crash in the Daytona 500 served as the start of Larson’s season, but he was one of the many drivers involved in incidents. He recovered by capturing a win late at Auto Club Speedway and finishing second overall at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. These two performances rocketed Larson to the top spot in the championship standings, but the situation drastically changed.

An engine issue ended Larson’s race at Phoenix and then a crash at Atlanta marked his second consecutive finish outside of the top 30. The champion had a chance to rebound at Circuit of the Americas, the track where he finished second overall in 2021, but a late collision with the wall, Kurt Busch, and Joey Logano caused considerable damage and relegated him to a 29th-place finish.

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