NASCAR Legend Claims Kyle Larson Is Not a Franchise Driver as He Hands the Title to His Teammate

Published 04/11/2024, 2:18 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

According to former NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Petty, there are two kinds of drivers in NASCAR. One brings the best out of any car they race in, and the other actively tries to make their car the best version to be driven. Talking about Hendrick Motorsports drivers, they have both the kind: Kyle Larson and William Byron, respectively. Recently, Kyle Petty appeared on the ‘Out of the Groove’ podcast and revealed why he feels Byron is different from other drivers.

Petty believes that Byron’s active effort to work on his car and make it go as fast as possible earns him the title of the “Franchise driver” of the team, which many people might have attributed to Larson.

Kyle Petty explains what makes Kyle Larson different 


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During a segment in the podcast, while the host and Petty discussed how Byron started clicking after he teamed up with Rudy Fugle in the NASCAR Cup Series, Petty compared the youngster to the likes of Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and others. He also revealed how Larson was different from the other drivers in the company. Petty said, “We know the story of Kyle Larson. He gets in a car and he drives the freaking wheels off of it. He doesn’t want to know what tires are on, he doesn’t want to know what the springs are, he doesn’t want to know anything about it. Give him a steering wheel and a place to sit, and, by God, he is your guy…”

He further mentioned how the other drivers had a different mentality, “William Byron is not that type of driver, Jeff Gordon was not that type of a driver, neither was Kurt Busch or Kevin Harvick in recent years. These are franchise players. These are players that not only see the race car, they see the organization and they see where the race car can go and they drive that bus and that’s what I am talking about… I think William Byron is that guy who has an understanding of the car mechanically… Does it like Jeff Gordon at an early age, Kevin Harvick was that way…”

Petty also believes that William Byron would be the driver one puts their money on to carry the team when times are tough, much like what Kevin Harvick did for a number of years when he was a part of Stewart-Haas Racing. Kyle Larson might have more talent and race craft, but it’s someone like Byron who will elevate the team to new heights.

USA Today via Reuters


There is no denying Kyle Larson’s talent. The former Cup Series champion is one of the best motorsport athletes in the world at the moment. But when it came to carrying a team or actively trying to make things better both on the technical and business sides of things, Petty felt William Byron held more pedigree.

Hendrick Motorsports could be centered around its youngest driver


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The driver of the #24 car is highly rated, and there is no doubt that he will win the Cup Series championship sooner rather than later. Considering that he is the youngest driver at Hendrick Motorsports at the moment, the future must be centered around him. As far as Kyle Petty is concerned, he would build a team around a driver like Willam Byron over Kyle Larson.

Petty further added, “I think there are franchise players, and that’s what—that’s almost the better way to put it is, if I’m gonna build a franchise, if I’m gonna build a team, I’m gonna build it with a William Byron. I’m gonna go race it with Kyle Larson but Kyle Larson’s not a builder. He’s a guy that’s just gonna come in and win a bunch of races, but when he leaves, if my car is not good and I don’t have a guy with the talent of Kyle Larson, I’m not gonna run. William Byron is going to leave the company in a better place.”


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William Byron has certainly been a revelation for HMS. A man who started racing on digital platforms made the jump to real race cars. These are stories that are hard to believe, but that’s what makes them so inspirational. There is no doubt that Byron is on his way to becoming a multi-time champion. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

Read More: Jimmie Johnson Unmasks His True Driving Desires as He Ditches All Out Speed for “Slowing It Down”


Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh


One take at a time

Nilavro Ghosh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports, where he is known for his creative yet easy-to-read writing style. Before taking up his role as a sports journalist at ES, Nilavro has written for some of the top publishing houses, like The Telegraph. While most journalists stop at covering live events and taking the news to the readers, Nilavro goes the extra mile to give fans a platform for them to express their thoughts through his 'race reaction' pieces.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta