I’m a Ford guy, so what is happening right now in Nascar absolutely hurts. Kyle fucking Larson is breaking the sport, and when he isn’t winning races, one of his teammates is. In fact, besides the All-Star Open, which no Hendrick cars raced in, a Hendrick car has one every race since Martin Truex Jr. won on May 9th. It started with Alex Bowman winning in Dover, Chase Elliot in Texas at Circuit of the Americas, then Kyle Larson at Charlotte, Sonoma, and the All-Star Race at Texas.
Larson is on a redemption tour since he got fired for pulling a Morgan Wallen on a racing simulator last year. However, just because he wasn’t allowed to race at the highest level doesn’t mean he didn’t race. He spent the year going back to short tracks and practicing his skills and based on the results he is getting; I would have to say it paid off. He also got a significant ride upgrade, as he went from the Chip Ganassi Racing #42 car to the Hendrick #5 car.
Speaking on Hendrick, how about the resurgence of that team? They went through a little bit of a rough period, as they transitioned from a veteran lineup of Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordan, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to a young lineup of Bowman, Elliot, Larson, and William Byron. After a few down years of development, the team is back, and all four drivers are sitting in the top five in points. That’s not even fair; the worst driver on the team is the fifth-best driver in Nascar and has a win this year. So it’s really not realistic to think that all of the drivers could be in the championship four at the end of the year.
Getting back to last night, though, what an interesting setup going on. Nascar wanted to make it more aesthetically pleasing to the fans, so instead of a long race, they made six short stages over 100 laps. I have to admit, I missed the first four stages, but I did get to see the fifth one, the “Pit Crew Challenge” stage. Each driver had to pit in the first 20 laps of the stage, and the crew to do the fastest stop would win $100,000. Of course, a Hendrick car won, as Chase Elliot’s crew killed the stop.
The final stage of the race was a 10-lap shootout. Although 20 cars were in the race, the major players were Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliot. After Keselowski made a super aggressive move to pass Elliot and was inches from passing Larson, he cut up the track to get in between the teammates. Then, he raced Larson hard but just wasn’t able to get enough speed to make a pass. The shitty part for Brad was that Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, his teammates were fourth and fifth place but couldn’t catch up to help make a push. It might not have mattered, however, because Kyle Larson is on a different planet right now.
Whatever is going on with these Hendrick cars is absolutely magic. It’s starting to get to crunch time in the season, with just ten races left before the playoffs start. Denny Hamlin right now is the points leader but hasn’t won a race yet. I would expect him to get hot and win a few races before the season ends. Kevin Harvick is another driver who hasn’t had the best 2021, but I would think he will get a win or two in the next ten. Nothing is guaranteed in Nascar, so it’s hard to say who the top sixteen will be, but one thing that I am sure of, four of the top eight cars will be Hendrick cars. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliot at least will be in the hunt going to the championship at Phoenix.