Pro Late Models
Michael Hinde Has Arrived as a Late Model Contender
Mar 5, 2022
The incident between Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California made for a compelling segment of 'Radioactive on FOX' but it’s not conducive for long-term cohesion at Hendrick Motorsports.
As a result, Rick Hendrick personally led a meeting with all four drivers under his umbrella to get them on the same page ahead of the Cup Series weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"Rick called a meeting with all four teams and just kind of reiterated his expectations with us drivers, so it’s good to get those reminders every now and then," Larson said Saturday. "We’ll continue to race good in the future with each other, so I’ll catch up more with Chase here in a little bit and we’ll be good."
The meeting was not held in person with several drivers and crew members remaining on the west coast between Fontana and Vegas, but several follow-ups were scheduled around track activity this weekend.
Elliott was left frustrated with Larson after he was pinched into the wall during a three-wide battle for the lead with Joey Logano with 22 laps remaining in the Wise Power 400 at Auto Club. The contact and resulting damage sent Elliott down pit road for repairs.
The No. 9 Camaro still wasn’t driving right after the repairs and Elliott spun with eight laps remaining as Larson was driving away to an apparent easy victory. Elliott was accused by several industry insiders of spinning on purpose, and he did himself no favors by telling his team he didn’t care who was leading right before the car went around.
Larson was asked if he heard the radio transmissions over the past several days.
"Yeah," he said.
Did he have any comments on it?
"No, it was another good episode of it," Larson said with an awkward laugh.
Awkward, because he admitted that’s how it felt when the boss personally felt compelled to oversee a meeting with his drivers after last weekend.
"Well from my spot, it’s always going to be awkward," Larson said. "But it was a good meeting to have."
It was also the first time in his year-plus with Hendrick Motorsports that Larson can recall Hendrick taking an active role in a competition meeting.
"I haven’t been there but a little over a year now; so as far as I can remember, that’s the only meeting since I’ve been there that Rick has been a part of in that sense," Larson said. "He’s been to competition meetings and stuff like that, and we’ve had multiple meetings about different things. But as far as racing and stuff, that’s the first one I can remember him getting involved in.
"I think we all know his expectations and after the incident last week, it was good for him to get involved again and tell us what the expectations are."
Tyler Monn, Larson’s spotter, took responsibility for the incident immediately after the race. Monn said he cleared Larson high too late because he was focused on Logano underneath both Hendrick cars. Monn said he misjudged the closing rate of the Next Gen cars in the draft.
Larson was protective of his spotter on Saturday and said it was a learning experience for everyone.
"Yeah, Tyler is great," Larson said. "I’ve been very, very happy with him as my spotter. The way things worked out for us to get him last year was so last minute, but I feel like we ended up with the best option I could have as a driver. He’s been great. We’ve had a lot of success together and I trust him a lot. We’ve talked quite a bit this week. We both are learning these new cars. The runs are huge, so there’s a lot to be learned.
"You have to have some incidents sometimes to really learn quickly and that’s what we’re going to do going forward."
FOX Sports' Bob Pockrass says Elliott and Larson have had a one-on-one conversation as well.
"He kind of reiterated everything that he's already said and expressed his apology about the whole deal," Elliott said. "And I appreciate that."