We’re a week away from turning attention to just 16 of the three-dozen NASCAR Cup Series drivers. They are the elite who move on to the playoffs. Notable among them are the two former champions, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson, who jumped on top of the news with what happened at the recent restart last weekend at Watkins Glen.
Their relationship at Hendrick Motorsports leads this week’s mailbag.
Is there room for two alphas on one team? Will Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott learn to get along, or does Hendrick Motorsports have a problem? (from ST via Proton Mail)
Ronald Reagan used to say, “You’ll never speak ill of any fellow Republican,” it was the 11thThe tenth Commandment in partisan politics. The NASCAR version is something along the lines of: “You may not wreck a teammate.”
Almost everyone obliges…until there’s a vacancy in the U.S. Senate or a checkered flag in hand.
The problem for Hendrick Motorsports is Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson are two very talented drivers in top gear, which means they will be racing to plenty of wins. Presumably they were reminded of this at Monday’s drivers’ meeting after Larson forced Elliott out at Watkins Glen, and odds are they can coexist peacefully through Martinsville on October 30 because the goal is to get to Championship 4.
However, neither of them wants to give up their alpha card by holding back at a time of crunch in the race.
Unless they are both caught first in the bubble in an elimination race, Phoenix on November 6 becomes the next potential problem. If they’re close there while in the mix for a win and a championship, Larson will probably have a problem; Elliott still owed it to Fontana, as the No. 5 Chevy carelessly walled the “9” with 21 laps to go.
Elliott, on the other hand, wants his second title in three years. On the other hand, neither he nor anyone else in the organization wants to go through the three months of the vacation period with an unresolved problem.
At least half the teams in Formula 1 have the same problem where two drivers who are relatively close together want the other guy to be able to stay out of the way. Barring a few incidents uniting them (namely, one walled up Ross Chastain to avenge the other’s misfortune in dealing with the No. 1 Chevy), they formed an uncomfortable symbiosis for a long time.
What’s with Kyle Petty’s hate? Whenever you guys write anything about it, the comments on Facebook bug the guy. I happen to like him on TV, where he was so much better before and after the races that Dale Jr. was at. (from GP via Yahoo Mail)
I don’t get it either, Jeff.
I’m biased, especially after Betty graciously reset his schedule to sit in for an interview in the spring, but I’ve long loved his television work. He gets to know the key developments during the races and explains them succinctly, and his delivery is great because he can be personable and funny without being corny.
I’ve worked at FoxSports.com for seven years, and play-by-play NFL and MLB Joe Buck always attracts the same hate and to an even greater degree because Super Bowls and World Series are among the biggest assignments on television.
Without a doubt, the stupidest criticism of Petty is that he has “only” won eight Cup Series races, which is more than the eight races the cellar boys have ever won. The combination of 30 years in the sport’s top series plus growing up in the greatest racing family in NASCAR history gives Petty a depth of knowledge that few people involved in the sport can still match.
For Dale Jr. On TV, someone at NBC has to decide if they’re the playboy or the race analyst. He tries to do both most weeks, and it’s claustrophobic. I’m told my face is for radio, but he has a voice for columnists.
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Have a question or comment about racing? John Moriello of Sportscasting does a column in the mailbag every Friday. Write to him on [email protected]
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