Larson craves a victory at "home track"

6/23/2018 12:16:54 AM EST

If the right attitude can translate into a break-through trophy then Kyle Larson should be ready to gulp his share of fine Northern California wine straight from the winner's oversized chalice Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

Larson has celebrated there before -- dominating the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race, leading every single lap in his first high profile NASCAR event at the scenic 11-turn road course. And he is the defending Busch Pole sitter for Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' Toyota/Save Mart 350 (3 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

And while the versatile racer is as well-known for his dirt-track roots and prowess as his NASCAR rise to fame and popularity, the 25-year-old concedes he sure does love a road course challenge too. Especially when it's essentially the Elk Grove, Californian's "home track" -- the very place he was famously photographed wearing a Jeff Gordon driver's suit attending the summer NASCAR race as a young boy.

"I think it's a lot of fun," Larson said of road course racing. "It's fun to get to do something totally different than what I ever grew up racing. A pavement oval is totally different than what I grew up doing, but a road course is way opposite.

"I enjoy it. I feel like I get better and better at it. To me, I feel like racing a stock car on a road course is more similar to a sprint car even because you can feel the suspension working more than you can on an oval. So, there are aspects of it that my background benefits to this more so than a normal oval race. I enjoy it. This is my home track so I get to see a lot of friends and family and hangout with people that I don't get to see very often too.

"I enjoy this weekend a lot."

It's the first time in two years that Larson will be winless on the season as he arrives back home in Northern California. He visited Victory Lane twice last year before he arrived in Sonoma. But Larson has absolutely been a bright spot for his Chevrolet Camaro brand and is the highest ranking Chevy driver (10th) in the points standings right now.

He has four top-10 finishes in the last five races heading to Sonoma and he has three runner-up showings on the season (at Fontana, Calif., Bristol, Tenn. and Pocono, Pa.). Overall, he has nine top-10 efforts through the opening 15 races.

"I feel like our speed has been there all year really," said Larson, who drivers the No. 42 Camaro for Chip Ganassi Racing.

"I feel like speed wise we have been about the same as we were last year. I think you can look at Stewart-Haas, (they are) quite a bit better than they were last year. I feel like compared to the Gibbs cars we are kind of right where we were to end the season with them last year, so we were pretty good there, so no, I don't feel like our team is frustrated at all.

"I think we look at it as there is a lot of room to gain which is nice because I feel like we are already competitive and if we get any bit better we will be in a good spot. So, I think our team is definitely optimistic."

Following his dramatic win in the K&N Pro Series West four years ago, Larson has been especially eager to triumph at the Cup level on Sonoma's 1.990-mile course. He has never started the race from a position lower than fifth. And the pole position and nine laps led last year were a career highlight for him here. His four finishes, however, have been more disappointing. He's had essentially twin bills -- two times he's been 15th and he bookended those with a finish of 28th in his first race and a 25th-place showing last summer.

"Always qualify well here," Larson said, with a grin. "I think we have the track record maybe from '14 or '15, so that is pretty cool. The pole here last year was neat.

"I would like to race well here soon. I don't know what it is about the race, but I always seem to struggle a little bit. Hopefully, this year is a little bit different and can do a good job and get our team up front."

--By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

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Mon, 13 Aug 2018 23:46:14 EST Serena sizzles in first-round win at Cincinnati
Sun, 12 Aug 2018 19:07:00 EST Halep defeats Stephens for second Rogers Cup win
Sat, 11 Aug 2018 21:59:58 EST Halep, Stephens set for rematch at Rogers Cup final
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 22:52:28 EST Stephens, Halep cruise to semis at Rogers Cup
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 16:40:27 EST Halep cruises past Venus at Rogers Cup
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 22:44:42 EST Cornet, Bertens notch second-round upsets at Rogers Cup
Tue, 07 Aug 2018 22:21:09 EST Sharapova completes suspended-match blowout in Montreal
Mon, 06 Aug 2018 23:27:01 EST Venus starts slow, rolls in Rogers Cup opener
Mon, 06 Aug 2018 20:54:47 EST Serena opens up about struggles with postpartum depression
Sun, 05 Aug 2018 20:58:33 EST WTA roundup: Buzarnescu wins first title, breaks into top 20
Sat, 04 Aug 2018 11:59:13 EST Serena Williams withdraws from Rogers Cup
Sat, 04 Aug 2018 01:34:04 EST WTA roundup: Sakkari knocks out Venus Williams in San Jose
Fri, 03 Aug 2018 00:57:59 EST WTA roundup: Keys joins San Jose exodus
Thu, 02 Aug 2018 00:09:59 EST WTA roundup: Muguruza withdraws from San Jose event
Wed, 01 Aug 2018 01:46:34 EST WTA roundup: Serena Williams loses 6-1, 6-0
Tue, 31 Jul 2018 03:18:34 EST WTA roundup: Boulter earns upset win at Citi Open
Sun, 29 Jul 2018 12:12:16 EST WTA roundup: Danilovic wins all-teen clash in Moscow final

LPGA Stories

Thu, 16 Aug 2018 21:21:51 EST Salas on top in Indy after 10-under 62
Wed, 15 Aug 2018 16:05:20 EST Thompson back in swing of things after emotional break
Sun, 05 Aug 2018 16:23:27 EST Rookie Hall becomes rare Englishwoman to win British Open
Sat, 04 Aug 2018 15:11:32 EST Phatlum shoots 69 to maintain 1-stroke lead at Women's British Open
Fri, 03 Aug 2018 15:54:16 EST Phatlum remains bogey-free to lead Women's British Open
Thu, 02 Aug 2018 16:19:03 EST Australian Lee captures first-round lead at Women's British Open
Thu, 02 Aug 2018 12:56:04 EST Wie withdraws from British Open with hand injury
Tue, 31 Jul 2018 19:14:46 EST Lincicome on another PGA event: 'Never say never'
Sun, 29 Jul 2018 14:38:16 EST Jutanugarn wins Scottish Ladies Open, will move to No. 1
Sat, 28 Jul 2018 15:50:50 EST Jutanugarn, Yang tied for 54-hold lead at Scottish Open
Fri, 27 Jul 2018 17:34:47 EST Joh keeps three-stroke lead at Ladies Scottish Open
Thu, 26 Jul 2018 18:28:25 EST Joh posts career-best round to lead Ladies Scottish Open
Wed, 25 Jul 2018 23:51:56 EST Lexi Thompson withdraws from British Open
Tue, 17 Jul 2018 13:23:37 EST Inbee Park stuns with withdrawal from UL International Crown
Sun, 15 Jul 2018 18:51:52 EST Suwannapura tops Lincicome in playoff to win Marathon Classic
Sat, 14 Jul 2018 18:09:24 EST Henderson leads by a stroke after Round 3 of Marathon Classic
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 19:36:18 EST Henderson, Hedwall share 36-hole lead at Marathon Classic
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 21:00:14 EST Suwannapura takes 1-shot lead in Marathon Classic
Sun, 08 Jul 2018 22:09:18 EST Kim breaks LPGA scoring record at Thornberry
Sat, 07 Jul 2018 21:46:07 EST Kim ties 54-hole record, leads by 8 at Thornberry

WNCAAB Stories

Tue, 14 Aug 2018 17:14:35 EST UConn, Tennessee set to renew rivalry in 2020
Sun, 22 Jul 2018 18:12:39 EST Portland, longtime Penn State women's hoops coach, dies at 65
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:42:54 EST Former Tennessee great Charles-Furlow dead at 49
Fri, 06 Apr 2018 23:51:39 EST South Carolina's Wilson earns Wooden Award
Mon, 02 Apr 2018 15:50:53 EST UConn's Stevens skipping final season, entering WNBA draft
Sun, 01 Apr 2018 21:15:27 EST Easter stunner: Irish win title on last-second 3-pointer
Sat, 31 Mar 2018 18:07:32 EST South Carolina's Wilson wins Naismith player of year
Sat, 31 Mar 2018 00:26:56 EST Ogunbowale's shot lifts Notre Dame over UConn in OT thriller
Fri, 30 Mar 2018 21:46:41 EST Mississippi State outlasts Louisville in OT to advance to national championship
Mon, 26 Mar 2018 23:16:06 EST Notre Dame downs Oregon to charge into Final Four
Mon, 26 Mar 2018 23:01:32 EST UConn routs defending champion South Carolina to reach Final Four
Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:57:47 EST McCowan, Mississippi State outmuscle UCLA to reach Final Four
Sun, 25 Mar 2018 22:04:33 EST Durr scores 18 as Louisville romps into Final Four
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:46:48 EST Oregon cruises past Central Michigan to advance to Elite Eight
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:11:38 EST Notre Dame edges Texas A&M to make Elite Eight
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:52:26 EST Collier paces top-seeded UConn in win over Duke
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 20:57:12 EST No. 2 seed South Carolina pulls away late to top Buffalo
Sat, 24 Mar 2018 00:34:21 EST NCAA women's roundup: Oregon State stuns Baylor
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:54:01 EST Louisville overpowers Stanford in regional semis
Fri, 23 Mar 2018 23:40:30 EST UCLA edges Texas to reach Elite Eight

USA Stories

Wed, 15 Aug 2018 11:23:51 EST ESPN's Ley taking six-month sabbatical
Mon, 13 Aug 2018 13:39:24 EST Former WWE wrestler Neidhart dies at 63
Fri, 10 Aug 2018 13:08:48 EST Reports: Former Tour de France champ Ullrich arrested
Thu, 09 Aug 2018 15:05:38 EST Wings, beer ... bets? Buffalo Wild Wings' action plan
Fri, 03 Aug 2018 01:13:37 EST Reports: Pro wrestler Kane elected mayor in Tennessee
Mon, 30 Jul 2018 13:06:03 EST Ex-Olympian Miller, wife recount daughter's drowning death
Sun, 29 Jul 2018 21:12:38 EST Pro wrestlers Volkoff, Brian Lawler, Brown die in 24-hour span
Sun, 29 Jul 2018 13:36:05 EST Thomas rides into Paris as Tour de France champ
Sat, 28 Jul 2018 12:21:19 EST Dumoulin wins Stage 20, but Thomas all but seals TDF title
Fri, 27 Jul 2018 14:11:13 EST Roglic wins Stage 19, Thomas increases overall lead
Thu, 26 Jul 2018 13:47:52 EST Démare wins stage 18 of the Tour de France, Thomas maintains lead
Wed, 25 Jul 2018 17:07:57 EST Quintana claims Stage 17 of Tour de France; Thomas pads overall lead
Wed, 25 Jul 2018 15:32:30 EST Triple Crown winner Justify retired, owners announce
Wed, 25 Jul 2018 15:02:01 EST Ex-sports doctor Nassar appeals sentence, seeks removal of judge
Tue, 24 Jul 2018 17:53:34 EST Protests, pepper spray and crashes mar Tour de France Stage 16
Tue, 24 Jul 2018 11:24:09 EST Tour de France riders hit with tear gas by police
Mon, 23 Jul 2018 15:22:22 EST Team Sky's Gianni Moscon booted from Tour de France for punching another cyclist
Mon, 23 Jul 2018 12:57:56 EST Lochte suspended for 1 year for illegal IV
Sun, 22 Jul 2018 20:37:39 EST Espinoza breaks vertebra in neck after horse collapses, dies
Sun, 22 Jul 2018 13:51:13 EST Neilsen claims first stage win with dash at Tour de France

INDY Stories

Sun, 27 May 2018 17:54:42 EST Power finally claims elusive Indy 500 victory
Sun, 27 May 2018 17:40:48 EST Patrick crashes out of final Indy 500