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‘Selfish’ Kyle Larson Drops a 5-word Bomb on NASCAR’s Practice Debacle

Published 04/21/2024, 2:40 AM EDT

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While the future Hendrick Motorsports’ #5 spent most of his 2020 season in an “indefinite” lockdown, his future #9 teammate would become just the third youngest Cup Series champion in NASCAR history. It looks like it’s safe to say that Chase Elliott’s accolades driving for HMS were rightfully followed by Kyle Larson in 2021. His spectacular triumph was even sweeter after almost a year of no perceivable real-time, on-track practice.

Nevertheless, in 2024, continuing on the revised schedule and eliminating 30 minutes of practice from every race weekend, NASCAR fans were barely ready for another debate on the controversial practice timings. But with Dale Jr breaking the blazing hot topic of the week alongside one Chase Elliott, a crucial question emerges from their recent discussions: Has Kyle Larson, a little selfishly, always been used to this continuous lack of “practice”?

Does Kyle Larson even need ‘Practice’?

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In a recent episode of the Dale Jr Download, Chase Elliott almost “convinced” Junior to change his demands for increased practice session timings, with an amazing analysis that harkened back to his #5 teammate’s prior history on regional dirt tracks. Referencing the fact that lesser-known racers “get literally five laps of hot laps” before running a race, Chase rhetorically summarizes that if an up-and-coming driver can make it all happen with minimal practice times, top Cup Series “professionals” such as himself warranting “an hour and a half” seems unnecessary.

On the weekly roundup of DJD: Reloaded, the cast touched upon an interview that Larson gave to another Dirty Mo Media Network podcast, Speed Street. With a hint of irony, quelling many concerns over the reduced timings of practice sessions, Larson echoed his teammate’s sentiments unaware through his own unique lens: “The best year I had in NASCAR we just showed up and raced. Truth is really like twenty minutes more than I’m used to in a dirt race. I’ll get three to five laps so.” 

From the dirt tracks of USAC and World of Outlaws to driving HMS’ iconic #5 Chevy to championship glory right after 7x champ Jimmie Johnson’s retirement the year prior, Larson makes an impressive yet self-concerned statement. He says, “I don’t know. I mean, I think road courses and places I struggle, I would like to have more practice, and then places I feel like we have an advantage with our setups and stuff, I would like no practice so I guess just selfish… I kinda like the way things are.”

“And two, I think Indy’s going to feel really weird to me like that first week of just all-day laps and practice and stuff…” NASCAR’s latest double aspirant admirably observed his contrasting challenges to a tried-and-tested “routine,” that could potentially help elevate himself further in the GOAT debate.

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2021 Champ defends shortened sessions while outlining future challenges

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On the same Darlington Raceway that Larson couldn’t compete on due to his suspensions, as the NASCAR schedule returned to on-track action post-COVID, he put up a P2 podium finish in his comeback tour. Then 28-year-old Larson had many interesting sentiments to share with the media, similar to what the 31-year-old version of himself did to Speed Street a few days ago.

Before going on a three-race P2 podium streak starting at Darlington, he would state, “Honestly, probably no practice benefits me a little bit. Just from being able to adapt quickly and not giving myself an opportunity to tune ourselves out with any bad feedback.” With the growing influx of eyes slowly accustoming to the various excitements of the world’s premier stock car racing experience, this reason previously iterated by Kyle Larson could hold, considering the increased criticisms and toxic social media interactions can often lead to unnecessary external stress during an act as simple as tuning the cars correctly for race day.

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But before his “double” attempt on Memorial Day weekend, as he prepares to race 1100 grueling miles on the same day, Larson realizes an unlikely challenge – ‘too much practice.’  As conversations evolved on Speed Street regarding the “first week of just all-day laps and practice,” Larson put out an interesting point of view, I don’t know if I want that much practice. I feel like for a guy like me who is so green I think there’s opportunity to learn a lot that those days of practicing but then I think there’s also opportunities to to trick yourself into thinking something’s going to be a certain way…

Regardless, a perennial winner, Kyle Larson will surely find a way to overcome any challenges if they do arise, but will he need any “practice” to battle his assumed problems? We must first wait for Talladega!

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Written by:

Amman Augustin

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Amman Augustin is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With his coverage majorly focusing on the lavish off-track lives of drivers, Amman often brings the lesser-known side of Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick to their fans. Another aspect of NASCAR where he flourishes is covering rivalries between competitors.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta