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Kevin Harvick answered Rick Hendrick’s call to take over duties for Kyle Larson at North Wilkesboro even before knowing what the favor was. Putting on the HMS fire suit for the All-Star practice and qualifying, Harvick was tasked with the important job of setting up the car ahead of Kyle Larson‘s arrival on Sunday.

Dusting off the rust with a few practice runs, Harvick felt that his time away from racing had certainly been detrimental. That being said, the only person who could give a fair review of the veteran’s ability to set up the Next-Gen Car (with help from the crew) ahead of the main event is Kyle Larson.

Kyle Larson hints at a ‘loose’ setup costing him $1 million

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The 2024 All-Star Race has been getting major slack for the lack of overtakes. But there’s one driver who consistently pushed his Next-Gen car past the tire woes, toward victory lane. Despite starting at the tail end of the field owing to the swap with Harvick, Larson drove the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 to a top-five finish at P4. Many commended the HMS driver for putting in such a stellar drive without ever experiencing the resurfaced track.

However, Kyle Larson was left with a few grievances. Looking back on what could have been, Larson felt his pit crew made all the right calls on race day. But what plagued the #5 driver was his Next-Gen car’s setup. He shared with FrontStretch, “We were in the best spot to win. I thought for sure we would win. But my car was built really loose there, and then I kind of had to move up to the top.”

For those watching the All-Star Race, it was evident that Larson was battling his car occasionally. The only time he would risk the inside line was on restarts, and that certainly paid off. But with how loose the setup was, the #5 driver just couldn’t run that low for very long. The Camaro ZL1 seemed to be loose on both entry and exit. He added, “I just was a little too loose in, loose out for a while. Then my entry got better but my center and exit got really tight again.” 

This is where Kevin Harvick’s lack of experience this season may have hampered the HMS squad. During qualifying and practice runs, it looked like the car was not up to the mark as Harvick fought with the wheel to maintain control. Larson faced a similar dilemma during the race, as he concluded. “I was sliding around quite a bit out there and when you’re sliding around, it feels just as sketchy.” 

While it’s safe to say Kyle Larson was brutally honest with his review of the #5 HMS Camaro’s setup, the Indy 500 challenger had nothing but gratitude for the SHR veteran.

Despite missing out on gold, Larson still had a memorable weekend

For Kyle Larson, this weekend was as intense as can be. Not only did Larson miss out on the All-Star qualifying and practice owing to his IndyCar commitments, but he also had no running time with the Heat races being canceled. This meant that the car’s setup and Harvick’s inputs could heavily influence an excellent result at North Wilkesboro.

But that’s not all. Since North Wilkesboro’s surface had been repaved, Larson was unfamiliar with the track when the race started. This is why a P4 finish was enough to make the All-Star Race ‘fun’ for Larson as he shared, “It was a memorable day. To make the fast six, then to fly here and compete in the All-Star race, and I know we raced here last year, but that was a totally different racetrack, so it just feels like I’ve raced at a track I’ve never been at.” 

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Even though Larson didn’t get a win with that setup, finishing in the top five and running well throughout was a stellar result, he concluded, “Happy to finish fourth with no practice laps, so thanks to Kevin Harvick and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for getting that all put together smoothly and our car balance worked out where we could compete at a decent level today.”

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After taking a look at Kyle Larson’s heroic drive from the back of the pack to a top-five, do you think Kevin Harvick could have done a better job?