By NASCAR Wire Service

It’s early in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, but it looks like the ultra-talented Kyle Larson is poised for a breakout year.

He led on the final lap of the DAYTONA 500 before running out of gas and has finished runner-up in the last two races. Dating back to last season’s penultimate race at Phoenix Raceway, Larson boasts three runner-ups and a third-place finish in his last five starts.

On Sunday, the No. 42 Chevrolet driver hopes to notch his first win of 2017 when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Phoenix for the Camping World 500 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

“(I’m) super happy with how our season has gotten started,” Larson said after last week’s race at Las Vegas. “Way better than where I’ve ever started a season. I’m really happy about that, proud of our team.”

Larson ranks second in the series standings, a mere one point behind Brad Keselowski. He has earned points in every stage this season.

Unlike many NASCAR drivers who grew up racing on short tracks, Larson matriculated running sprint cars on small dirt ovals. The 24-year-old Californian struggled at the series’ short tracks like one-mile Phoenix Raceway at the beginning of his career, but is beginning to get more comfortable on them.

“I’m not like a short track racer, so I seem to struggle at those places, but last year we had some good runs at short tracks,” Larson said. “Our most consistent races were short tracks. I finished third at Martinsville, second at Richmond and third at Phoenix. Those are my three worst tracks. I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit better and I think my crew chief has kind of learned what I need at short tracks to help me out. It’s weird, but I kind of look forward to going to those places right now.”



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