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via Getty

via Getty

Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Stewart Haas Racing know how to draw a crowd, and it’s not hard to see why. They’ve been at the heart of NASCAR for ages, with drivers who consistently knock it out of the park, whether they’re veterans or newbies on the track. Of course, these teams don’t just run on high hopes; they’ve got some serious budgeting to do, all backed by their sponsors and overall team resources. It’s evident that Hendrick Motorsports’ lineup includes some of the sharpest drivers out there. Yet, a bit of a stir was caused recently when a former Xfinity driver turned team owner shocked everyone by labeling Kyle Larson‘s #5 team as a “tier 2” squad. Now, what’s that all about?

Is Kyle Larson’s crew seen as the underdog?

In one of the posts made by Alanis King, she recently spilled the beans on her gig spotting for her buddy Brad Perez, who’s taking the wheel of the No. 45 car for the Xfinity Series team, Alpha Prime Racing. She even mentioned how Tommy Joe Martins, the big boss at Alpha Prime, was all in on having her as a spotter for Perez.

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She painted a picture of Alpha Prime as the lower-budget contender in the Xfinity Series, duking it out with the titans of NASCAR like Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, among others. Their race shop’s mantra is “Us Against Them,” splashed across the walls in fiery red.

However, what stood out in the article was Tommy Joe Martins’s statements listing the teams that belong to Tier B. He said“We’re a midtier team. We’re not an A team; those are the legit Cup teams, $200,000-plus per-race budget. We’re not really a B team; those are the Nos. 48, 26, 27, 31, 15, 39 and 5 [Kyle Larson]. They have $100,000-plus per-race budgets.”

Tommy Joe Martins, who runs his own racing team on a shoestring budget of about $70,000 a race, surprised everyone by lumping Kyle Larson’s squad, the #5 team, into what he calls the “B” tier of teams. Considering Larson clinched the Cup Championship back in 2021, that’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

Martins reckons his crew, Alpha Prime, ought to be finishing races somewhere between 26th and 28th place given their budget. But they’re setting their sights higher, aiming for the top 20 and hoping to finish races on the lead lap.

As for Larson, tagged as a “Tier-2” racer by Martins, he’s laser-focused on chasing down his 25th victory in the Cup series.

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The #5 driver is hoping for his 25th NASCAR win at Richmond

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Just last spring, Kyle Larson clinched a win at this very track, leading for 93 laps. Known for its demanding tire management, Richmond’s a track Larson admits isn’t his strongest suit, but that hasn’t stopped him from crossing the finish line first a couple of times before.

“I feel like Richmond is one of my my tougher places I go to, but you know, just doesn’t come quite naturally to me. But, you know, I’ve been able to win a couple of times there and have some good runs, have some bad runs. So we’ll see what this weekend brings.”

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Read More: Kyle Larson Unleashes Bitter 6-Worded Reality Check That Fueled His ‘Prime’ in NASCAR

Heading into the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway this weekend, Larson, who’s already got 24 Cup Series wins under his belt, is itching to make it 25.