When Kyle Larson went to Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in just the season’s second race, it appeared that the reigning Cup Series champion was picking up right where he left off in 2021 when he scored 10 wins on the way to a title that he won in nothing less than convincing fashion. But 2022 has been a surprisingly bumpy ride for Larson, as the Hendrick Motorsports driver has gone winless in the 10 races since his triumph at ACS and event went through one stretch where he finished no better than 29th in three races.
At least Larson can likely take some comfort in the fact that he’s the most recent Cup winner at Kansas, having gone to Victory Lane here last fall in his No. 5 Chevrolet after leading 130 of 267 laps. Larson has rarely been this dominant in 2022, but prior to a 36th-place finish this past weekend at Darlington, he’d at least come home sixth or better in three consecutive events. While it’s impossible to know whether Larson can repeat his Kansas performance from last fall, he does seem to be trending in the right direction again after struggling mightily earlier in the season.
Thanks to his win at ACS, Larson at least doesn’t have to worry about making the playoffs; he’s locked in and therefore can take some chances this weekend at Kansas and at other places that he would not be able to take if he was still chasing his first win of 2022. At this rate, though, Larson is on pace for just three wins this season — far fewer than his impressive win total from a season ago.