Kyle Larson’s Chase hopes take a hit in Pure Michigan 400

A promising weekend for rookie Kyle Larson went south early in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. 

Starting in the 13th spot, Larson had made his way to eighth when the competition caution flew on Lap 21. 

When the field hit pit road, Larson made contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. The contact led to heavy damage on the right front fender of the car and forced the Chris Heroy-led team to go to work early to make repairs. 

"I was leaving my box and looked at my mirror, I saw the 27 (Paul Menard) and somebody else coming to my outside, so I was trying to leave them room," said Larson. "The 88 had come out and we just kind of met right there and we just kind of met right there. It all happened real quick. Really messed up our body and tow and all that, and from then the day was just ruined."

Then, on Lap 96, Larson’s right front tire blew sending the No. 42 Chevrolet hard into the outside wall, bursting into flames. 

Larson said he had some "hesitation" to get of the car per NASCAR’s new rule. But with smoke in the cockpit, he informed the team he was going to climb from the car. 

"Anytime you see flames you want to get out," he said. "I’ve had fires and stuff, but that was the first time I had fumes and smoke in the cockpit, that was the main reason I wanted to get out."

One of the fastest cars all weekend throughout practice and qualifying, Larson was optimistic he could score his first career Sprint Cup Series win and earn a spot in the Chase. With Sunday’s wreck, Larson and his No. 42 team now have three more chances to win a spot in the Chase. 

"We did have a really good car this weekend, that’s why it’s the most disappointing," said Larson. "We’ll work hard. We’re fast every weekend. We were really good at Bristol earlier in the year, so we just have to go back and try and get a win. That’s pretty much all we can do right now."