After finishing a close second to winner Joey Logano last Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Larson readily admits that he and his team are ready to make their first visit to Victory Lane.
“We've just got to get a little bit better,” said Larson today. “And I probably have to do a better job, also. We've been really close in the Chase (and) it's been good to see the speed we've had in our Target Chevy. We've been close, and Charlotte should be a good track for me, so hopefully we can go there and have a good run.”
Larson gave much of the credit for his success to Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, which has made huge competitive strides in 2014 after running hot-and-cold in the last few seasons.
“I'm loving the way the team is working together right now,” he said. “I think we're in a great spot, and we're only going to get better. “(We’ve) just got to keep the atmosphere good in the shop -- with the team and everything -- and I think that'll also help make the cars go faster.
“We've been having a lot of fun as a team lately,” he added. “You can tell everybody is pretty relaxed because we've been running well. We're all focused. We see how close we are, and it makes everybody in the shop work even harder to find that extra little bit.
“It is a little bit frustrating to come close and not get wins, but it's also nice to see yourself running in the Top-3 with everybody that's in the Cup field. It's amazingly tough. It's really exciting, but a little bit frustrating at the same time. I still definitely leave (the track) in a good mood. It would be kind of weird to leave in a bad mood for finishing second.”
Larson said that while he has been strong across the board in recent weeks, he feels strongest on the 1.5-mile ovals.
“I think any mile‑and‑a‑half that's left in the schedule -- Charlotte, Texas or Homestead -- probably are the where I'll have the best shot. I hope I can get a win at any of the upcoming tracks, but I'd say those are the highest chances for me. I'll go into those races with extra confidence and hopefully get it done.”
He said that while he was initially surprised with the success of his rookie season, he quickly raised his expectations after realizing how solid his team was.
“I set a goal to be a Top-15 car all season,” he said, “and I noticed right from the start of the season we'd be a Top-10 car most races. I changed the goal a little bit to run Top-10 every race, and now the way things are going, you want to be Top-5. The goals have definitely changed a little bit throughout the year, and that's a good thing when you're raising your expectations.
“We've just got to keep working hard, and hopefully those Top-5s will turn into wins.”
As expectations have risen this season, the California native said he has worked hard to avoid turning those expectations into pressure.
“I don't add any pressure on myself,” he said. “I really don't even pay attention to pressure, (and) I think that's a really good quality as a race car driver to put that in the back of your head. I mean, I'll be really relieved whenever that first win does come. I hope it comes sooner rather than later. I definitely feel like we're capable of winning a race or two before the end of the year, and getting that first one out of the way will be awesome.”