DOVER, Del -- Yes, Kyle Larson walked away.
Last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, a chain reaction started at the head of the backstretch. David Ragan turned William Byron into Larson. As Larson slid, the left side of the No. 42 Chevy lifted off the track and Larson plowed nose first into the inside SAFER barrier before barrel-rolling down the backstretch.
On Friday, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver sat down with NASCAR at the track to review the in-car footage of his horrific wreck from the Geico 500.
“I got to see the in-car video today—which was pretty spectacular to watch," Larson said. “As far as making it lift like that, I’m sure NASCAR has probably been reviewing it all week. I haven’t talked to anybody yet. Steve O’Donnell (NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer) reached out to me after the race and said they’re going to work on it and figure out why.
“It was surprising. Normally, you see cars take off, and they’re more sideways or you’re going backwards almost where mine was hardly sideways at all. I don’t know why it lifted off like that. I’m not an engineer by any means, but it looked like the right rear started to come up and that’s when the air got up underneath the car and had it launch. I was not expecting it to do that at all.
“Just thankful that my chassis and all my safety equipment held up good.”
His overall response the following the aftermath of the accident?
“It makes me feel like I’m really tough,” Larson said with a laugh. “It’s pretty crazy how much everything stretches—my seat belts, my harness. Everything stretches in an impact like that. I stretched far enough where my head hit the steering wheel a little bit. And then, with each tumble, the jolts that my body went through was pretty crazy to see.
“Then you slow it down and look at how the chassis is flexing when it makes contact with the pavement is pretty incredible. We’re driving heavy vehicles. For it to hold up as well as it did is pretty amazing.”
NASCAR is continuing to investigate the liftoff of the No. 42 Chevy using the high speed cameras located around the track and the Interval Data Recorders from the cars that were involved. The sanctioning body discussed the incident with the race team on Tuesday.
“A lot of work goes into it even prior to the race in the wind tunnel, looking at what the liftoff speeds were,” O’Donnell said earlier on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ll have to look at a couple of things—the initial impact of the car on the side around the right rear. Maybe that contributed to the air getting under the tire there, as it headed toward the wall. We’ll look at all that.
“We’ll certainly make any adjustments we need to. We obviously want to keep the cars on the ground, but on the good news front, glad to see Kyle was all right. Talked to him after the race, and he was certainly shaken up from the wild ride, but he was in a good spot.”
Larson said he has great confidence in NASCAR to arrive at a solution for his car going airborne.
“I’ve been involved in some big crashes and it seems like with any crash that I’ve been in or other drivers have been in they’ve made improvements from them,” Larson said. “They’ve made the cars safer and all that. They have a lot of smart people in the safety area of their business. I’m confident that they’ll look at and make improvements from it.”
Although Larson was sore on Monday, he made a quick recovery. He was able to play in the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am at Quail Hollow Club on Thursday. The foursome of Larson, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Harold Varner III finished second.
“My neck and shoulder blade area was a little stiff after the first couple of days,” Larson said. “Come Wednesday, I felt pretty good. Just barely tender. So, surprisingly, thankfully I was fine.”