Kyle Larson Repeating the Same Mistake in 2022 Is Upsetting Other Teams and Could Prove Costly Later This Season

Kyle Larson is undoubtedly one of the top NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Look no further than his historic 2021 campaign, which included 10 wins and a championship. However, this season, the Hendrick Motorsports driver hasn’t necessarily raced like a champion as he’s repeatedly made the same mistake in numerous races and upset other drivers in the process. 

Here’s a look at the multiple missteps and why it better be corrected, or it could cost him dearly at the end of the season when it matters most. 

Kyle Larson wrecks Chase Elliott at Fontana

Kyle Larson has repeatedly run other cars into the fence this season. The one that understandably received the most attention happened with his HMS teammate Chase Elliott in the second points race of the season at Fontana. 

That’s when with 22 laps remaining, Larson battled Joey Logano in side-by-side action for the lead. Elliott, in third, got a great run at the start-finish line and made a move to pass on the outside of his teammate. 

The No. 5 car surprisingly shot up the track for a block. However, he miscalculated and instead slammed into the side of the No. 9, escorting Elliott into the wall. 

The normally calm Elliott went off on an f-bomb tirade on his radio. Larson won the race. Elliott finished 26th.

Larson involved in multiple incidents this season

While the Fontana incident received considerable attention because of the players involved, it wasn’t the first time the No. 5 had run another car into the fence. 

That came at the exhibition Clash at the Coliseum late in the race on a restart when Justin Haley was the middle of an HMS sandwich and got shoved from behind by William Byron, which pushed him into the left rear of Larson, moving him up the track. 

Larson reacted seconds later, coming out of the turn. With Haley on his inside, the defending champ made a sharp left and ushered the No. 31 car hard into the inside wall. The Kaulig driver’s race ended and he was justifiably unhappy.

“The 24 got into the back of me and shoved me into Kyle, and then Kyle just came down and put me in danger,” Haley said. “Not really impressed with the move. It’s hard to be a rookie and gain respect. The 18 just passed him cleanly and he didn’t turn down on Kyle (Busch). I don’t know. It’s kind of BS.” 

Drivers don’t forget how they were raced

This weekend, it happened again at Talladega in the sprint to the finish line when Larson moved up the track and redirected Kurt Busch for a hard hit into the outside wall. In a twist of bad luck for the 23XI Racing team, the No. 45 careened off the wall and clipped teammate Bubba Wallace, who then slammed into the wall.

After the race, team co-owner Denny Hamlin replied to a NASCAR tweet that showed the in-car camera from both cars with a simple: “Not clear.” 

Hamlin made headlines later for a racially insensitive tweet on the same subject that he removed and apologized. While it was offensive, the overarching theme of both tweets calling out Larson for causing wrecks was correct.

Drivers say it all the time how they race against another driver the way that driver races against them. Not even including a questionable incident at Daytona when Larson’s aggressive bump-drafting caused Kevin Harvick to crash, the 29-year-old driver has numerous drivers who, if they stay true to that saying, have reason to race him more aggressively in the future, and that could spell trouble for his chances of repeating as the champion.

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