Kyle Larson on third straight runner-up finish: ‘This one stings’

Always a bridesmaid and never a bride.

That was the story once again for Kyle Larson following his third consecutive second-place finish of the season in Sunday’s Camping World 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

Larson and his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing team elected to pit for two tires during the final caution after Joey Logano made hard contact with the Turn 1 wall with six laps remaining.

After restarting fourth in overtime, Larson was setting up to make a run on eventual race winner Ryan Newman when he was tagged from behind by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“Yeah, my spotter said ‘clear’ and I started turning down,” Larson said after the race. “I guess I just didn’t anticipate him driving in as far as he did. Maybe I should have just run the middle lane there just to be safe.”

It was also the fourth time in five Cup races Larson has posted a runner-up finish, dating back to the 2016 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I wish I wouldn’t have gotten sideways there in (Turns) 1 and 2,” Larson added. “I would have stayed close enough to Newman and I probably would have got him down in (Turns) 3 and 4 coming to the white. You never know though. That’s how the races play out. Maybe I made a mistake there.”

Despite coming up just short, Larson leaves the Valley of the Sun with the points lead in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.

“This one stings because I feel like I was in the best spot out of anybody there to line up fourth on two tires,” Larson said. “But, it’s really, really cool to be the point leader right now. That was a goal of mine going into today (Sunday).”

Now Larson looks on to Auto Club Speedway to break the streak, a place where he scored a win in the XFINITY Series and a second-place finish in Cup — both of which came in 2014.

“We’ll hopefully continue to have this speed in our race cars and maybe close some of these races out,” Larson said.