NASCAR: Rick Hendrick lays down the law with his 4 drivers (Update)
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Larson spoke with the media Saturday morning and reported that he had a positive meeting with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott – after an on-track incident between the two last weekend in California.
With 11 laps remaining in the race, Larson was in the middle of Turn 1 making a pass on Ford driver Joey Logano, driving a lane below. Larson said he didn’t see Elliott go a lane higher at the same time – making it three-wide. Larson veered toward Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet, which hit the wall and was damaged. Elliott continued, but eventually spun out and brought out the final caution with nine laps to go, forcing Larson to have to beat the field on the ensuing restart with three laps remaining.
“I got to talk to him and we kind of went over what happened from each of our vantage points,’’ Larson said after qualifying. “It went well, honestly better than I anticipated. He’s a great teammate.’’
Their private conversation came after a mid-week talk with longtime team owner Rick Hendrick, who has a history of settling differences among his talented driver lineups. A decade ago, he was mending fences with another pair of his champion drivers – Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
“Rick (Hendrick) called a meeting with all four teams and just kind of reiterated his expectations with us drivers,’’ Larson said. “It’s good to get those reminders every now and then and continue to race good in the future with each other. I’ll catch-up more with Chase (Elliott) in a little bit and we’ll be good.’’
“Hopefully nothing like that happens again.”
Larson’s spotter, Tyler Monn, took to social media last week after the race saying it was his mistake for not letting Larson know Elliott was outside him.
“I was worried more about the 22 (Logano) and not the 9 (Elliott). It was a late call on me it had nothing to do with Kyle (Larson),’’ Monn said on Twitter!
March 5, 2022
Chase Elliott spun all by himself earlier in the race at Fontana and was lucky he did not hit the wall or another car, or his day would have been done. Then later in the race Elliott tried to pass teammate Kyle Larson who claims he did not see him when he moved up a lane, cut off Elliott who had a run, and Elliott scraped the wall.
Larson is well aware of the anger he sparked in Elliott after his No. 5 Chevrolet cutoff the No. 9 car. Larson has seen FOX’s “Radioactive” video from the race coverage and heard the series of cuss words Elliott released in response. Larson confirmed as much Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as he called it “another good episode.”
Larson, who ultimately won at Auto Club while Elliott finished 26th, addressed the fallout in the days after the incident, including Hendrick Motorsports weekly competition meeting, which was virtual this week due to West Coast swing travel. Larson’s spotter took the blame for not warning Larson that Elliott was coming fast on his outside.
Elliott was top dog at Hendrick until Larson was hired. Since then, Larson has owned Elliott, relegating him to his water boy. Elliott’s ego and reputation has taken a severe hit.
“Well, from my spot, it’s always going to be awkward,” Larson said. “But no, it was a good meeting to have. Rick (Hendrick, owner) called a meeting with all four teams and just kind of reiterated his expectations with us drivers. So, it’s good to get those reminders every now and then and continue to race good in the future with each other. I’ll catch up more with Chase here in a little bit, and we’ll be good.”
Elliott was not made available to the media prior to any Cup Series on-track action at Las Vegas’ 1.5-mile track.
“As far as I can remember, that’s the only meeting since I’ve been there that Rick’s been a part of in that sense,” Larson said. “He’s been to competition meetings and stuff like that. And we’ve had multiple meetings about different things. But as far as the racing and stuff, that’s the first one I can remember him getting involved in. I think we all know his expectations and after the incident last week, it was good for him to get involved again and tell us what the expectations are.”