Kyle Larson to get another Cup start at Texas

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21-year-old rising star Kyle Larson hopes his third Sprint Cup start will be the charm, as he’ll suit up once again for Phoenix Racing in this Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Larson, who will drive the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in Sprint Cup next season, had been initially slated to drive just the Charlotte and Martinsville Cup races this month. He was unable to finish both of those races due to engine problems.

“Getting to compete in Sprint Cup has been a great learning experience,” he said in a team release. “I’m looking forward to driving the Cup car at Texas and hopefully avoid any issues, complete all the laps and get the finish we deserve.”

The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau will be supporting Larson and Phoenix Racing in Sunday’s race. Larson will also continue his Nationwide Series duties in the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet for Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

In the Oct. 12 Cup race at Charlotte, Larson had been running within the Top 15 until he fell back after his engine dropped a cylinder around 100 laps to go. Eventually, the engine failed on Lap 247 and he was relegated to a 37th-place finish.

This past Sunday at Martinsville – a track he had tested beforehand – he lost another motor in the first half of the race, triggering one of the 17 caution periods in the race. He finished 42nd.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.