Q and A with Kyle Larson whose car parts injured Daytona fans
NASCAR Nationwide Series rookie Kyle Larson gave a candid interview to NASCAR Race Hub and host Danielle Trotta in this evening’s edition on SPEED.
Larson, 20, drives the No. 32 Turner Motorsports entry, finished 13th in Saturday’s race at Daytona International Speedway despite being caught up in a scary last-lap incident that hurled pieces of his race car into the front stretch grandstands, injuring 28 people, many of whom were transported to nearby hospitals for emergency treatment.
It wasn’t the only bit of headline-making Larson was involved with either, as the California native won one of the season-opening USAC Midget Series races at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway, while also causing a controversial last-lap incident in the NASCAR All-American Series race earlier in the week.
Here’s is how the interview went…
Danielle Trotta: How are you doing physically and mentally?
Kyle Larson: I was really thankful the fans are all okay, it seems like. Physically, I am fine. I’m not sore at all. Mentally, I’m fine. I’m just ready to get to Phoenix this week and go racing.
Trotta: Did you want to see the footage, when you walked away from that crash?
Larson: Yeah. I definitely wanted to see the footage after I got out of the care center, but they wouldn’t show us, just because they weren’t sure what (had) happened in the stands yet. I watched it on YouTube on my drive home, after the races. I was pretty shocked when I saw how bad the accident was.
Trotta: Let’s have you walk us through it, and tell us what you remember seeing and what you remember feeling on the final lap in Daytona.
Larson: I was getting pushed by Dale (Earnhardt) Jr.; all over Sam Hornish and my spotter tells me they were wrecking. I go to miss it, get turned sideways, took a couple of big hits. I could see the ground at one point but I didn’t know that I had gone into the fence. I got out of the car and saw half my car sitting there.
Trotta: Engine in the catch fence…
Larson: …yeah, engine in the catch fence. I didn’t know any of that was actually (in) the grandstands and in the fence until I was in the care center and asked some other drivers what happened. They said, ‘Your tire and your engine (are) on the wrong side of the fence.’
Trotta: What did you think of the style of racing? Regan Smith saying that he was running full throttle, it was a really hard run to the finish.
Larson: It’s hard to say, last lap, coming to the finish line. Especially when you’re Regan, I think you have to do something to try and block or whatever. But, it’s hard to say. I had a lot of fun racing that day; the style of racing was totally different (from) what I had ever done. You could two-car tandem. You could pack race. It was a lot of fun.
Trotta: You were telling me off camera that you grew up on dirt; and how scary wrecks are just part of what you experienced growing up.
Larson: Yeah. I wouldn’t say that it happens all the time, but it happens pretty regularly. I’m still not scared to go strap into the race car. I know that’s the risk we take when we strap in. The fans should never be at risk and just thankfully, they are all okay.
Trotta: A dramatic Speedweeks for Kyle Larson, and of course, the modified race ‘The Battle at the Beach’ on SPEED last week as well. Some controversy, let’s put it that way, surrounding your finish and your win over C.E. Falk, III (NASCAR All-American Series race). You said off camera that you had always (been) looked at as being ‘the best,’ but after that finish and spin that people called controversial and a ‘cheap shot,’ now (they) call you, ‘the worst.’
Larson: It’s a little bit different, not used to being the ‘bad guy.’ What I did definitely wasn’t right. I’ve said in many interviews, I’ve watched Bowman-Gray (Stadium in Greensboro, N.C.) and short- track racing, and it seemed like the second-place guy always won on the last lap. I thought I was going to do what any other driver ever would have done. (It was) probably the wrong decision looking back I’m sure. Hopefully, I can gain everybody’s respect back later on in the season.
Trotta: When you look back at Speedweeks overall, how do you walk away feeling?
Larson: Speedweeks was a long two weeks for me. It started off with the ARCA race and finished second. I then went to New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in a USAC Midget and won that. Then the late model race with all the controversy; the modified race I did really well until the last restart and I missed a shift. The K&N (Series) was just okay, got into a late wreck, then the Nationwide race. It was a big roller coaster ride, but it was a fun one, and I’ll always remember it.