By now, you’ve probably read the comments from Kyle Larson on Hendrick Motorsports. The Chip Ganassi driver sounded off on starting the season faster than his Team Chevy competition on Tuesday.
Here’s what the NASCAR world was buzzing about on Tuesday.
“I feel like Hendrick plays games in a way with NASCAR. I feel like they always start the year off kind of bad to like show NASCAR that they’re being nice and cooperating and following the rules and stuff, and then it gets a couple of months in, and they start cheating and finding some speed.” (Via NBC Sports)
It didn’t take Larson long to walk the comments back, however. Larson issued an apology to Hendrick on Tuesday night, who supplies engines for Ganassi.
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) February 27, 2019
This is exactly what NASCAR needs.
Considering the amount of support that Larson gets from Hendrick, the apology and walk back isn’t all that surprising. However, it’s exactly the opposite of what made NASCAR great three and four decades ago. Even as recent as Earnhardt vs. Gordon, rivalries are what makes sports go. That’s something that NASCAR is sorely lacking these days.
Perhaps just as important, NASCAR is missing personality. Kyle Larson has been one to speak his mind in the past and he provided another example of that on Tuesday. Maybe Larson picked the wrong target here, but NASCAR *needs* this stuff. They need the controversial comments. They need pot stirrers.
NASCAR has become a group of clean-cut dudes who are PR professionals. That wasn’t the case 25 years ago at the sport’s peak. It’s not the only reason why we are seeing declines in attendance and TV ratings, but it’s not helping either.
My message to anyone who has read this far — let Larson be Larson. Let him say what’s on his mind. It gives us stories to dig into — it gives you something to talk about. It builds anticipation for the weekend.
Maybe Larson himself felt compelled to make the apology. But odds are, he was instructed to do so. I hate that. You should hate that too.
NASCAR can change the rules package all they want. At the end of the day, nothing will put butts back in the seats like personality and rivalries.