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Kyle Larson Exposes NASCAR’s ‘Inconsistency’ as He Admits to His Mistakes That Cost Rick Hendrick a Lot

Published 09/25/2023, 2:49 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

For Hendrick Motorsports, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season has been topsy-turvy. At the moment, the mood in the HMS shop is positive as William Byron earned them their 300th Cup Series win. But positivity has not been the norm for Rick Hendrick and there are a lot of reasons why that is the case. For now, however, HMS has two drivers in the playoffs and they will be hoping to get both into the championship race at Phoenix. One of them has some serious concerns over consistency though.

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Consistency indeed has been hard to come by for Rick Hendrick’s drivers so far this season. Yes, they’ve had their wins and their moments in the sun, but getting only two out of four full-time drivers into the playoffs probably does not constitute a good season in Rick Hendrick’s eyes. The round of 12 will be tough and HMS may face their toughest test yet this season in this round.

HMS driver’s fear comes true in Texas


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HMS started off the 2023 season on the wrong foot as Chase Elliott suffered a serious injury to his leg and was out for six races at the start of the campaign. The team’s golden boy could not earn a victory nor could he score enough points to make it into the playoffs in 2023. And sadly, he was not alone. Alex Bowman was also one of the HMS drivers who did not make it into the last 16 this year.

But the two drivers who have made Rick Hendrick proud are William Byron and Kyle Larson. Byron just wrote his name into the history book as he claimed his team’s 300th Cup Series win at Texas to book his place into the round of 8.


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Larson, on the other hand, won the first playoff race of the season in Darlington and finished in the top five in the next couple of races. But the driver of the #5 was wary about consistency ahead of the round of 12 and, unfortunately, his fears rang true.

“I think just for me and for whatever reason, in the Next Gen era it’s just been a lot of inconsistency. This is the first time in the Next Gen era that I’ve had three top-5s in a row, might even be the first time I’ve had three top-10s in a row. I’ve been a bit inconsistent so just, you know, I try every week to finish as good as possible but sometimes I think I try a little too hard and make mistakes or put myself in areas to get caught up in other people’s mistakes,” the 2021 Cup Series winner said on an episode of Podium Finish.

At Texas, Larson’s struggles with the Next Gen car were there for everyone to see as he lost control of his car while defending his lead from Bubba Wallace with just 20 laps to go, eventually retiring from the race. And it’s not just him who struggled with the Next Gen cars. Nine other drivers suffered DNFs in Texas, including playoff driver Kyle Busch.

Things might get even worse for the #5 driver as the next round of 12 race is at one of the toughest circuits on the calendar and a place where he has never won a race before.

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Kyle Larson could crash out in the round of 12


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NASCAR will go to the iconic Talladega circuit next weekend for the second race in the round of 12 of the 2023 Cup Series. It is a place where legends are made, but of late, it has been the stuff of nightmares for Chevy teams, including HMS.

According to a statistic shared by a fan on Reddit, no Chevrolet driver has had a better running position than 10th at super-speedways this year. Meanwhile, the Ford cars have had 14 instances of drivers with an average running position of 10th or higher at super-speedways.

This smells trouble for Kyle Larson who might see himself scraping to get himself into the round of 8 at the Charlotte Roval the week after Talladega. The #5 driver has started 17 races in Talladega so far and has never won once. He only has one top-5 finish and his average finishing position at the track since 2013 has been a lowly 23.4.


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Crashing out in Texas might prove to be more costly for Larson than most people would imagine but if he can take his round of 16 form into Talladega, there is a chance that the HMS man will break the curse and finally be on victory lane at the iconic circuit.

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh


One take at a time

Nilavro Ghosh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. He started his journey as a motorsports fan with Moto GP and Formula One, before gravitating towards NASCAR a few years back. The high-octane nature of stock car racing paired with the racecraft on display drew him into the sport.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh