Kyle Larson returned to NASCAR last season after being fired for off-track conduct. This season, his decisions and actions may catch him on the right track sooner rather than later.
A three-day rain delay at the October 2020 playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway was all NASCAR needed to break the news everyone had been waiting for: Kyle Larson was returning to the sport for 2021, signing with Hendrik Motorsports to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet.
It saw the return of a historic figure, along with the addition of the best free agent by the A-list team. The construction of the bridge that Larson nearly burned has begun.
Coming out of NASCAR suspension and shot by Chip Ganassi Racing, Larson knew there were questions to be answered regarding his iRacing crash. He answers these questions in an article called “Kyle Larson: My Lessons Learned”.
Once back in the Cup series, he made the most of his second chance on and off the track. Giving back to the community, learning the lesson, and scoring checkered flags left and right earned him the right to be crowned with the 2021 NASCAR Series Cup.
But since returning to NASCAR this season as a champ, he may find himself responding to his actions on the ring.
Larson was no stranger to taking risks on the racetrack. His ends with race car drivers Joe Gibbs Racing Kyle Busch at Chicagoland Speedway in 2018 and Denny Hamlin at Darlington Raceway last season show the California native’s desire to “send” her at any cost.
But this year was different, and the intent seemed different, too. In a pointless race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Kaulig Racing’s Larson Justin Haley ran hard into an inner wall, destroying Haley’s car and her day. After just a few weeks at Auto Club Speedway, he threw a late barrier at teammate Chase Elliott, claiming it was an outright foul.
Then the same error occurred last Sunday at the Talladega Superspeedway. Arriving at the checkered flag, Larson threw a late block at 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch, destroying Toyotas of Busch and teammate Bubba Wallace in the process. The 23XI Racing duo has not commented on this, but co-owner Hamlin did.
When it is once or twice, it probably just comes down to being a bug. But the third time is a big magic in life, and now that seems to be the case in NASCAR. The trend appears to be getting the attention of drivers and team owners, and it could catch up to Larson sooner rather than later.