For the second consecutive weekend, Larson wrecked his primary car during a practice session and was forced to race a backup car and start from the rear of the field in the race.
Larson made the most of it Sunday, rallying from the back all the way into contention for the win in the Gander RV 400 at Pocono Raceway.
He ran as high as second following the next-to-last restart and ended up fifth after a two-lap overtime shootout, during which is nearly hit the wall again.
“I didn’t hit the wall, but I got close. I knew I was going to be close to the wall, so I bailed out of the throttle to keep myself from hitting the wall and lost momentum,” Larson said after the race. “I felt bad, but it was better than ending up torn up like the last time I was aggressive on a restart.
“It was a good day. It was a lot better car than I thought I was going to have, so it just goes to show how good our team is right now and how good our cars are.”
Larson wrecked in practice at New Hampshire but also ran competitive during the race in his backup car but hit the Turn 2 wall on Lap 265 of 301, which left him with a 33rd-place finish.
“Today, I felt like we were one of the fastest cars. If I could just race a primary car, who knows what we could do,” he said. “I just have to clean up a little bit of what I’m doing in practice and the races, and hopefully we can get a win.”
Larson remains without a win this season but still in the hunt for a berth in the 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series playoff field based on points.
Sunday’s finish certainly helped his cause but given his performance in backup cars the last two weeks, Larson would like to have the chance to capitalize on the best cars his Chip Ganassi Racing team prepares for him.
“This just goes to show how good our cars are right now. Any time you have a good run in a backup car, it’s satisfying,” he said.
“The past two weeks in a row I feel like we’ve had good speed in our backup cars, so I’ve been really happy with that. I don’t want to race backup cars, so I just have to stop crashing.”