The rumors have flown for months now whether Kyle Larson will return to NASCAR and where he will go. With his return to the sport being imminent, the question arises about how he will perform after basically running a full year on the dirt side of things. While he has dominated, we all know NASCAR is a different animal.
Do you expect him to be better wherever he goes? Has he truly become a better person through this entire debacle? What can we realistically expect if he does land at Hendrick Motorsports or another quality ride?
Many debates were started after the race on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 4) at Talladega Superspeedway about blocking and the double yellow line rule. Focusing on the blocking, it was a huge cause of several controversies. The current package in the NASCAR Cup Series allows drivers to get huge runs down the straightaway, which causes last second decisions that have resulted in wrecks. Penalties were handed out to some drivers for forcing others below the yellow line as a result of their blocks, but can there be more done?
Should there be rules like other motorsports have for blocking at Daytona International Speedway or Talladega? Why do we see this more now versus a few years back? Is track position that huge even at a superspeedway?
Q: If or when Kyle Larson comes back, will he be as good as he was, better or worse, depending on the ride he has, in your opinion? Jason S., Pittsburgh, PA
A: With all the rumors of him heading to Hendrick Motorsports, it is really hard to believe he will be worse off than he was before the incident that took him out of the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing. While Ganassi is a great team and has good equipment, they are not what Hendrick is.
Listen, when you have a top tier driver like Larson and a top tier team like HMS (if the rumors do add up) then there will be a ton of success. However, Larson found success at CGR even in the midst of some struggling results for the team.
The issue before this past Sunday was whether or not people forgave Larson for what happened back in April. That is a different topic, but for people of color, it is up to them to accept the apology. Larson’s mentality is one thing that could increase his performance in a significant way.
Nobody knew what his life was truly like beforehand, and we still do not truly know. This incident completely changed his life, but it has the potential to make him a better individual and, at the very least, has helped him educate himself on history and the topic at hand.
Besides that point, just look at his dirt stats from this year. The man can wheel a racecar better than many can in this generation. He is poised for a comeback soon. Whether he gets the HMS ride is yet to be determined, but he is going to make noise wherever he goes in NASCAR. If he happens to be in Cup and in a quality ride, the whole field needs to look out for a potential breakout season. If he somehow goes to the NASCAR Xfinity Series and has to race the lower series for a year, they better watch out even more with the way those cars drive.
To answer the question, he is going to be better. Getting back to the mentality aspect, he knows what he did was wrong and he has publicly said that now. He knows he has what it takes to be a champion, and I would not be surprised at all if he wins several races next season, wherever he winds up.
In an unprecedented year, one of the most talented drivers had to be removed from the sport. However, this could be a comeback story for the ages. Nobody knows exactly what will happen as of now, but Larson is likely going to be a force for many years to come now.
Q: Do you see NASCAR making any rule change with blocking on the superspeedways? Tim R., Myrtle Beach, SC
A: Blocking is something you really cannot make a rule about in NASCAR. You can get away with blocking rules in other forms of motorsports, but NASCAR has never been the type of organization to enforce those type of rules.
The closest thing NASCAR has to a penalty for blocking is the one about forcing someone below the yellow line, which we saw come into play a lot on Sunday in Talladega. We all know there are going to be many instances throughout each superspeedway race where blocking is going to play a huge role. Some drivers definitely do it more aggressively than others; many of the drivers who do not will tell you that.
NASCAR does not need to change any rule, nor do I think they will regarding blocking or even the rules package for these tracks. Drivers will always block, and even though it may cause incidents, it would be worse if they enforced any rule to do with that. Think about all the action there is because of the leader switching lanes back and forth to maintain their position. Without that, getting to the lead would be almost pointless unless it’s within the last few laps of a stage or the race.
I can see them being more strict about the forcing below the yellow line rule, especially if there would be any harm caused due to whoever did the crime. Yes, the yellow line rule is something that should be up for discussion as to whether it should be kept or not, but we are not going to dive into that right now. (My very quick take: It should not be a rule anymore.)
As for blocking, you know it will always be a thing, and drivers know the risk they take when they block for the lead at Daytona and Talladega. They are willing to take that risk, because they have a ton on the line, and of course, track position means a lot even at a superspeedway.
I don’t want to see any rule change when it comes to this. I don’t know what type of racing you see up front if a car is trying to control the race and then you take this tactic away from them. It is a part of superspeedway racing and always has been. You cannot take that part away. Again, it is risky, but the risk and reward make these races as exciting as they are, and it’s hard to envision that changing.