CONCORD, N.C. -- Kyle Larson is heading to Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday with a major burden lifted off his shoulders.
The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will head to the final race of the Round of 16 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs already locked into the next round of the playoffs, meaning he can focus on getting a win at “The Last Great Colosseum” instead of tallying playoff points during the race.
“You can be a little bit more aggressive,” Larson said. “But if you’re close in points, like William or Alex or Chase is right now, you know you can’t go there and get caught up in a mistake or something like that. Obviously, I don’t want to be the one causing mistakes – you can’t get too crazy out there. I think it definitely takes a little bit of pressure off.”
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for Larson, who stated Bristol is his favorite track in the Cup Series. The 29-year-old driver has posted two top-five finishes at seven top-10s at “Thunder Valley,” and both of his top-five results were runner-up placements.
“It’s just an exciting racetrack,” Larson said. “It’s really intense and just a tough race – 500 laps of no time to relax. You’re always battling somebody or the racetrack itself, and I just enjoy that. To me, it feels like a 500-lap dirt, sprint car race.”
Taking on the track like a dirt race could benefit Larson, who has used racing sprint cars and late models on dirt tracks to keep his mind sharp for his Cup races. The Elk Grove, California, native has won _ races on dirt this season, adding to his five Cup Series wins that he’s earned with Hendrick Motorsports. To secure a series-leading sixth win on the season would have more meaning if it came under the lights this weekend.
“Bristol is cool all the time, but the night race, to me, has a little bit more meaning than the spring race because of the atmosphere around it,” Larson said. “The lights, the crowd, the energy is just up from the night race. It makes me excited, and it makes me want to win there even more.”
Fans can watch Larson in the No. 5 Valvoline Chevy race for a win this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.