Las Vegas (AP / CBS13) —Kyle Larson was convinced he would never race again at NASCAR. I didn’t even know who would hire him, if possible.
It was Rick Hendrick who gave the driver a chance, which many believed was radioactive to the sponsor. Larson’s use of racial slurs while competing in online racing last April sacrificed his job, reputation, and ability to attract companies to fund the racing team. ..
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Hendrick said he would pay for the car himself, as he was confident that the reformed Larson could be redeemed after months of self-help efforts.
At the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Larson raced for his first NASCAR victory since returning from a nearly year-long stop. He ran only the first four races of last season and was hired by Hendrick Motorsports when NASCAR said it would be unsuspended earlier this year.
“Thanks to Mr. H for believing in me,” Larson sent a radio to boss Rick Hendrick after crossing the finish line.
He then won his first career on an intermediate track with a smoke-filled burnout, including a backstretch burnout for a friend watching from a camper on the hillside above the track. Celebrated. Larson said he was emotional when he raised the white flag, but that he was part of himself by the end of the burnout.
“I wasn’t sure if I had the chance to win the NASCAR race again,” said Larson, who once again thanked Hendrick for giving him a “big chance.”
Hendrick was thrilled and surprised to win his fourth race with Larson’s new team. He thought it would take Larson to establish a relationship with his new crew chief and find the rhythm in the 5th Chevrolet. Larson is learning in real time because there is no practice due to the pandemic protocol.
“I didn’t expect it to come so soon because I really thought it would take some time to gel,” Hendrick said on the phone after the race. “He’s really a champion, and I’m very lucky to have him.”
NASCAR’s only black full-time driver, Baba Wallace, was one of the first competitors to celebrate Larson.
“Baba’s coming to victory meant a lot,” Larson said. “He always believes in me. It was special.”
Larson’s move to Hendrick was expected to be electrical.
Originally from Elk Grove, Larson is considered one of NASCAR’s top talents, but has won Chip Ganassi Racing only six times in six seasons. Paired with the mighty Hendrick, everyone suspected that Larson would finally reach his full potential.
“He got into a great car. He’s a great driver and he’s going to make things happen,” said runner-up Brad Keselowski. “That’s what he does. He’s the helmsman.”
Mario Andretti on Twitter called Larson’s victory the most entertaining NASCAR race he’s ever seen and praised Larson for driving Hendrick as “the race of his life.”
The victory brought Hendrick a series of victories. William Byron won the Homestead-Miami Speedway last week, so Hendrick locked two of his four drivers into the playoffs in just one month of the new season.
This was the first victory for crew chief Cliff Daniels and the first victory for the crew with Jimmie Johnson since 2017.
“He knew deeply that he could return to this level,” Daniels said of Larson.
Larson’s final victory was on October 6, 2019 at Dover.
With his seventh career win, he has become the third driver so far and has won one of the spots as he has not participated in the playoff field of 16 drivers last season. The season began with three consecutive surprise winners: Michael McDowell, Christopher Bell, and Byron.
Lasson wasn’t surprised at all, and Las Vegas was supposed to be the ultimate track dominated by a large team. The 1.5-mile intermediate is the basis of the NASCAR schedule, and top organizations have the depth and resources to dominate the circuit.
All of Sunday’s top nine finishers represented NASCAR’s elite team and were the only surprise that single-car Richard Petty Motorsport Eric Jones finished in 10th place.
Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski was second in Ford, followed by local drivers Kyle Busch and Toyota’s Denny Hamlin at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Ryan Blaney was fifth in Penske, and Martin Truex Jr. and Bell put all four JGR cars in the top seven. Byron was eighth and defending race winner Joey Logano was ninth for Penske.
Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Kyle Larson Gets His 1st NASCAR Win Since Suspension For Racial Slur – CBS Sacramento Source link Kyle Larson Gets His 1st NASCAR Win Since Suspension For Racial Slur – CBS Sacramento