Why it’s OK Kyle Larson may never have a perfect NASCAR race

Larson Dominates Race, Pushing the Limits with Incredible Skill

Kyle Larson showcased his dominance in the race, winning both stages, leading 133 of 267 laps, and fending off Christopher Bell’s late challenge to secure a crucial playoff victory. His performance was masterful and timely, but perfection is not something we typically associate with Larson. And that’s perfectly okay.

When it comes to Larson’s incredible performances and thrilling moments on the track, whether it’s in motorsport series, you have to accept that he is always going to push the limits of what’s possible. Often, this involves running as close to the wall as possible without hitting it, maximizing speed and momentum. Occasionally, it results in him making contact with the wall, with a 50-50 chance of either miraculously recovering or bringing his race to a sudden halt. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday during Stage 2 when Larson hit the wall off Turn 2, but skillfully managed to save his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet from spinning out and causing a major wreck.

Although he fell back in the running order after the incident, Larson regrouped, and thanks to a well-timed caution flag, his team was able to address the damage to his car without losing any more ground. In fact, Larson may have even come back stronger after the incident, a pattern that has become familiar in his career. Jeff Gordon, vice chairman of HMS and a NASCAR Hall of Fame member, acknowledged Larson’s ability to bounce back from adversity and his unwavering determination to win.

Gordon stated, “The guy knows how to win clearly. I think Cliff (Daniels, Larson’s Cup crew chief) and he have real heart-to-heart discussions about some of those instances on both sides, whether it’s a strategy call, a misstep on pit road, or Kyle himself. It’s good. You don’t want to change that in a guy like Kyle. If it’s a new up-and-coming younger driver, and you feel like those are conversations that need to be had, yeah, you have them. I’ve never had to have that one with Kyle.”

Gordon highlighted Larson’s successful track record, emphasizing that regardless of his racing style, it has undeniably worked for him. In just nine full-time seasons, Larson has already secured a championship, with 23 wins and 16 poles to his name. At the age of 31, he is now in an excellent position to capture his second series title, particularly since joining HMS in the 2021 season. Gordon credited Larson’s strong partnership with Cliff Daniels, emphasizing the talented driver’s impressive work ethic and ability to absorb and apply the wealth of information provided by Daniels.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro, Cliff Daniels, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro

While Larson’s on-track maneuvers may be extraordinary and his performance unmatched, perfection remains an elusive goal. Cliff Daniels, Larson’s crew chief, has no issue reminding him of this fact. When asked about how many drivers could hit the wall, spin, maintain control of their car, and still win the race, Daniels replied, “Probably not many. Huge credit to him. I was interviewed earlier, and they asked me to rate Larson’s save on a scale from 1 to 10. I said, ‘Man, everyone wants to give it a 10. I’ll give it a 9.4.’ They were like, 9.4? Well, he hit the wall. If he wants a 10, don’t hit the wall. But it was a ridiculous save, yeah.”


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