It is no mystery that whoever replaces Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 car at Hendrick Motorsports has big shoes to fill. Now, the speculation around the replacement for the 7-time Champion has just gathered more pace.
In a surprising yet exciting move, Kyle Larson has emerged as the front-runner to take up the spot at Hendrick Motorsports.
According to leading NASCAR reporter Bob Pockrass, Larson is the favorite to replace Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 car, as per industry leaders. While Larson has still not officially asked for reinstatement, there is a great chance that he ends up with an even better deal on his return from suspension.
NASCAR suspended Larson back in April for using a racial slur while competing in an online race. Chip Ganassi Racing then fired him from the No. 42 team. Last month, Larson spoke to NASCAR officials about the terms and procedures of reinstatement.
Larson, considered to be a future champion in NASCAR until his suspension, is having an amazing run in the sprint car racing. He notched up many wins recently and is high on confidence. While he is enjoying his stint there, Larson admitted that a NASCAR return is his top priority.
A major hurdle for any team to sign Larson will be to convince sponsors and their manufacturers to bring on board a formerly suspended driver.
However, Pockrass believes that Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick is influential enough to convince Chevrolet to not veto Larson’s onboarding process.
The events of the last couple of months strongly indicated Stewart-Haas Racing as the front-runners to sign Larson. This was because of NASCAR legend and SHR co-owner Tony Stewart’s strong support for Larson’s comeback.
However, Pockrass also said that SHR might keep Clint Bowyer or promote Chase Briscoe to the Cup Series.
Kyle Larson was also recently tied with Richard Petty Motorsports to replace Bubba Wallace. This was after co-owner Andrew Murstein said he is considering the option.
However, with a potential Hendrick deal looking strong, Larson driving Jimmie Johnson’s iconic No. 48 will certainly become the talk of the town. Hendrick Motorsports also expressed that they will continue with the four-driver line-up.
Larson would be part of a line-up including the likes of William Byron, Alex Bowman, and Chase Elliott.