It was just a little over two months ago that Larson
At the same time he was in the midst of what turned out to be a 75-race winless streak in the Cup Series and trying to fight his way into the playoffs.
A string of five races with finishes of eighth or better helped propel him into the 16-driver playoff field based on points.
But on Sunday, his win at Dover (Del.) International Speedway not only ended his winless streak but in an instant made Larson a plausible title contender.
Thanks to his win Sunday, Larson will advance to the semifinal round of the playoffs regardless of how he finishes this weekend at Talladega and the following week at Kansas.
Whatever Larson is able to carry into the semifinal round will help his points situation but he will likely still be at a disadvantage to the likes of Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, all of whom have amassed a lot of playoff points through multiple wins.
But as Johnston pointed out, Larson is likely to be in contention for wins at texas and Phoenix and a win at either would automatically send him into the Championship 4 at Homestead.
That’s where the fun could really begin.
Making it to Homestead
While Larson has never been one of the four drivers to contend for the championship at Homestead, it’s a track where he has put in some amazing performances in his career, including leading 322 of 802 laps in the last three races.
Having the opportunity to not only race on a track where he performs well but to do it with a championship on the line is something that Larson does not want to squander, especially when the title race will move to ISM Raceway near Phoenix next season.
“To move on to the next round is special, but we’re not just satisfied with being in the Round of Eight. We want to go and make it into that final round of Homestead, where it’s my best track,” Larson said.
“It’s the final year for the championship race to be at Homestead, so I’ve looked at this ever since they released next year’s schedule as this is my best opportunity to win the championship.
“I’ve got to take advantage of that.”
While others have won more this season, Larson’s timely win in the nascar playoffs has provided his own path forward to Homestead.
It may be a rocky one but it’s a plausible one nonetheless.