AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Kyle Larson is loving his run of second-place finishes.
Larson has finished second in three of the four NASCAR Cup races this year, and four of the last five when going back to the 2016 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
He has only one career win and obviously wants a second. But the current series points leader doesn't appear to be sweating it, even though he admits a mistake he made probably cost him a chance at the win Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
For anyone who thinks "second is the first loser," Larson isn't feeling that way. He has spent too many races never even sniffing a top-five finish that he will appreciate his string of close-but-no-victory races.
"We've never had that speed," said Larson, who has qualified eighth, fifth and fourth in the last three races. "It's a lot of fun right now. I'm sure if I ran second for the next eight weeks, yeah, it's probably going to grow old. But it's so cool to be one of the fastest cars every week.
"I feel like I've got a shot to win every week at a racetrack like here and [last week at Las] Vegas where I don't normally run good, and challenge for wins."
Larson led only three laps Sunday but found himself in position to win as his Chip Ganassi Racing pit crew had a great two-tire pit stop to allow Larson to be the first off pit road for the green-white-checkered finish.
Larson should have had enough grip in his right-side tires to rally from fourth to first in two laps. But in the first green-flag lap, Newman got a big enough jump that Larson couldn't catch him. Newman cruised to the win, snapping a 127-race winless streak.
"I wish we would have been the winners," Larson said. "I thought we were ‑‑ I knew we were -- in the best spot.
"I turned across Ricky's nose and got sideways, killed both of our runs off of [Turn] 2 and allowed Newman to get out on us [too far]."
That type of mistake can often be the difference between winning and finishing second. Larson had said earlier in the week that if he finishes second every week, he'd be in position to win the championship.
That's true. But that sounds like a driver justifying finishing second.
"Hindsight is always 20/20," Larson said. "But I should have went a lane up in [Turns] 1 and 2. I should have known to just stay close to Newman. That's what I wish I would have done."
Larson has confidence the wins will come. He had that confidence last year, and he won at Michigan last August.
"I just hope we can continue to work hard, be consistent, be mistake‑free on pit road and on the racetrack," Larson said. "If we can just keep doing that, the wins are going to come. I could easily have four wins right now.
"We've just got to keep working hard."
Xfinity Series: Justin Allgaier earns emotional win
Ryan Newman wasn't the only driver to snap a winless streak this weekend. Justin Allgaier had competed in 80 Xfinity races since his previous victory.
That win made it a big personal victory. Adding to the personal triumph, Allgaier had "Get Well Kelly" on his helmet, a message to his dirt-modified crew chief Kelly Kovski, who was hit by the World of Outlaws car that flipped over the fence last month at Volusia Speedway Park.
Kovski is in a rehab center in Florida, according to the YouCaring page that generates donations.
"It means a lot to me. He is somebody who has invested a lot of time and effort into my racing career growing up and even to this day helps us on the dirt-car side. As disappointed as I have been in what has happened to him, to have him in the car with me [meant a lot]," Allgaier said.
Allgaier said Kovski, who also has competed in ARCA and modified races, is doing well in rehab in what is expected to be a long recovery process.
"We love to see him recovering, and that's why we did what we did," Allgaier said. "It's always fun to have somebody that you can race for and put an extra little bit of effort into the races for, and that's what we did."
Camping World Truck Series: No long layoff in 2018?
While the trucks are in a three-week layoff, they most likely won't have such a long time between their second and third races next year.
Along with Las Vegas getting a second NASCAR Cup date in 2018, both of its weekends will be tripleheader weekends. Vegas already had a stand-alone truck date in the fall, so the truck race it gets from New Hampshire along with the Cup date will mean that trucks will head to Vegas early in the season as well.
That will be a long trip for the teams, but it will give them another 1.5-mile track to see how their stuff is early in the year.