Larson had his fifth NASCAR Cup Series points victory well in hand on the final of 130 laps Saturday at Pocono Raceway until he felt something strange as his No. 5 Chevrolet rode through Turn 2.
Suddenly, his left-front tire went flat and Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet ended up slamming into the Turn 3 wall as his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman sailed by to inherit the victory.
Larson’s first thoughts of the events after being checked out at the infield care center?
“I guess disbelief still,” a dejected Larson said. “I don’t know, a little bit laughable just because I can’t believe it.”
Larson rolled into the Pocono doubleheader weekend on a four-race winning streak, including a victory in the non-points All-Star Race.
Unlike his most recent wins, Larson didn’t dominate Saturday’s race. And he patiently worked over several laps late in the race trying to run down Bowman for the lead, finally completing the pass with four laps to go.
But unfortunately, that turned out to be not enough.
“Hate that we didn’t get another win. Would have been cool to win five in a row,” Larson said. “Just wasn’t meant to be I guess today.
“Yeah, I felt something like right in the middle of the tunnel. Wasn’t quite sure what it was yet. It finally kind of shredded halfway through the short chute there. Couldn’t turn.
“Cool that Alex still did (win), a Hendrick car with another win. Cool to keep (Rick Hendrick, team owner)’s streak going.”
One positive, Larson said, is that unlike a normal weekend, there is no time to rehash Saturday’s disappointing finish.
Larson will start Sunday’s second race of the doubleheader from the rear of the field because his team will have to use a backup car.
“I’m sure our backup car will be just as good as that one. Feel like we learned a lot about our car today,” Larson said. “The track came to us a lot. I think we should be good.”