Kyle Larson, Hendrick Teammate William Byron Face Big Setback Ahead of NASCAR Cup Race at Phoenix

Published 03/14/2021, 8:50 AM EDT
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – OCTOBER 18: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, climbs into his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)


Hendrick Motorsports were largely happy with their work at Las Vegas and had come to Phoenix with the same level of confidence. But their hopes might have dented a bit, as drivers Kyle Larson and William Byron will now start the race from the back of the field.

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NASCAR make it a point to thoroughly conduct pre-race inspection checks on all competing cars. Having failed the procedures twice, the No.5 and No.24 vehicles will have their work cut out after being assigned to the rear of the grid.

This news would certainly come as a big blow to Larson, who was exceptional last weekend, securing his first Cup win of the season. The Hendrick Motorsports driver was due to start in 2nd but now faces an uphill task of making the best out of the race on Sunday.

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William Byron was originally due to start the race in 10th place

A statement from NASCAR read, “The cars of Kyle Larson and William Byron are among three cars that will start at the rear of the field for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Instacart 500 after failing pre-race inspection two times Saturday night.”

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 23: William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty Patriotic Chevrolet, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“Larson was slated to start second, while Byron was going to roll off the grid 10,” it concluded.

Earlier this week, team owner Mr. Rick Hendrick had emphasized on the organization needing to put in more work from an overall perspective. Certainly, these inspection failures would not have impressed him in the slightest.

Kyle Larson has recovered from this kind of situation before

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Back in the 2018 season, the 28-year-old had lost pole position after his Chip Ganassi Racing No.42 car failed pre-race inspection at Dover. But following that, he drove exceptionally to end up in 10th place, gradually making his way up the field.

Homestead, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson (5) races during the Dixie Vodka 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Teammate Chase Elliott had won his maiden Cup Series title in similar circumstances. Having been resigned to the back of the grid in the ‘Championship 4’ clash, he made up ground to win the race.

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Therefore, it is not unheard of for NASCAR drivers to make their way up the field on the one-mile speedway. But that said, there is no question that both Larson and Byron would have been disappointed just some hours ahead of the race.

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Bhargav Gopal

927 articles

Hailing from Bengaluru, Bhargav is an F1 and NASCAR author for EssentiallySports. He is a huge fan of Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. Bhargav also has an MBA in Sports Management from the Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, Pune.

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