Today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, eight (William Byron, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon, Bubba Wallace, Kasey Kahne and Justin Allgaier) Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 drivers took their new Camaro ZL1 race cars to the track for their first times behind the wheel of the new race car. Kyle Larson, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to discuss his first laps in the Camaro ZL1 ahead of its competition debut at Daytona, how it feels to be back to start the 2018 season, how much he learns from tests and many other topics.
TALK ABOUT WHAT IT’S LIKE TO GET BACK BEHIND THE WHEEL AND BE BACK IN LAS VEGAS:
“Yeah, it’s nice to get back in a stock car. I’ve still done a fair bit of racing this off season. But it’s been a couple of months since I’ve been in a Cup car. It was nice to get some laps here and feel like we’ve got some pretty good speed and good balance with our new Camaro ZL1. Pretty good test so far.”
KURT BUSCH LIKENED IT TO THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF IT?
“Yeah, I would agree with that. Especially with me, I haven’t even been around very much throughout the off-season because I spent about two and half weeks in New Zealand and then the Chili Bowl and out of the West Coast with family. I haven’t been in North Carolina a whole bunch to hang out with those guys in the shop, but yeah, the first test definitely feels like the first day of school a little bit.”
DOES THE SECOND RACE HERE CHANGE THE WAY YOU TEST OR THE WAY YOU APPROACH THIS OFF-SEASON TESTING?
“I guess maybe with an added race and it being in the Playoffs this test becomes a little more important. Every test is important because you want to come back and have good speed, but you know when you are coming back here for a Playoff race it’s just that much more important. I don’t know if we put anymore focus on the test or what, but hopefully, we learn a lot to where we are fast both races.”
HOW IS THE NEW CAMARO ZL1 PERFORMING ON THE TRACK SO FAR?
“It seems fine. It doesn’t seem too much different than the other car. Maybe it will be different once we get in traffic and stuff, but at a test you don’t really get to simulate that. It seemed to have good speed. I think we have ran about close to the same lap time as what we did last year, I think maybe at the test day or whatever with Jamie (McMurray) so it all seems fine with it.”
HOW MUCH DO DRIVERS ACTUALLY GET FROM THESE TESTS?
“I mean I get a lot out of it, especially being the first test of the year. Getting familiar with the car and just getting laps. And then you know, out here, obviously you don’t have a lot of cars, the groove doesn’t move up as much as it will for the race weekend, but the weather is always pretty consistent out here. The rubber and all that, it’s like I said, consistent and you can get a decent balance on your car from when you come back in a month or two, or whatever it is. This is the first time I’ve gotten to really test a 1.5-mile in the off-season, which is nice as well.”
ARE THERE NERVES A LITTLE BIT GETTING BACK INTO THE CAR? ARE THERE ANY DOUBTS, OR ANY ANXIETY OR EXCITEMENT?
“You know I think when you get going out there to make your first laps, not necessarily that you are nervous, but you are just a little rusty and trying to get that off and all that. No nerves or anything like that, just I guess excited to strap in and get going fast.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT LAS VEGAS GETTING A SECOND RACE? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT BEING THE FIRST RACE IN THE PLAYOFFS?
“Yeah, I’m excited about it. Vegas is obviously an awesome city and great to come hang out and good food and all that, but the racing is really good here. The fans are always great. The stands are always packed whenever we come. And then to have it be the kickoff to our Playoff’s I think that will be big and hopefully we can promote that a lot and carry that momentum that we build throughout the promotion of it throughout the whole Playoffs. I think moving or adding a second date here at Vegas and having it be the first race of the Playoffs was very important.”
YOU ARE ONE OF THE ONLY DRIVERS THAT HAS RACED AGAINST THE VETERANS AND THE ROOKIE’S YOU ARE SORT OF THE IN THE MIDDLE GUY. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
“Yeah, I don’t really know, I mean, but it’s been cool to see kind of the change of how our sport has been. There has been some really, really big-name drivers retire the last handful of years and I’m happy that I got the opportunity to race with all of them and learn off of each and every one of them. But now it’s exciting that we have William Byron and guys like that, that are now in the Cup Series. It’s been a very quick kind of change of the guard in the Cup Series. I think that’s exciting for our sport and hopefully helps build it to new levels.”
CAN YOU JUDGE OFF FAST TIMES FROM THIS TEST AND TELL WHAT IT WILL MEAN DURING THE SEASON?
“I think you can get a decent judge off of kind of where you stack up against other teams. But, I don’t know it’s also hard because you don’t know who is pushing the limits on their bodies and stuff here or whatever they are doing. In that aspect you don’t really know where you stand, but I feel good about it and I think you can still get somewhat of a decent idea on who is going to be fast when we get to Atlanta.”
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR SPEEDWEEKS?
“I’m excited. I guess it’s less than 18 days for my speedweeks. I’m going to go down early and race a sprint car at Volusia and then get going at the speedway for the Clash and all that. I’m excited. I leave next Tuesday, so my season gets going here pretty quickly. Yeah, I’ve only really felt like my off-season has been about two weekends now and I’ve been extremely bored. I’m ready to get going.”