Even though they are teammates, there is tension going on between Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott.
Being teammates in the NASCAR top tier can mean a certain level of friendship and sharing of data with the drivers using the same race equipment. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are great friends and would sacrifice yourself for the other when going for the win.
And this situation has been playing out for Larson and Elliott a couple of times this season. Larson won at Watkins Glen International and Auto Club Speedway while competing with Elliott for the win and in both circumstances, Elliott was pushed out of the racing surface or spun while competing with Larson.
While these kinds of things happen in the Cup Series, as a result, there seems to be tension building up between the two HMS teammates.
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With both drivers in the playoffs, could this tension affect their shot at the championship? Having been in a similar friend-rival relationship with Jeff Gordon in the past, Jimmie Johnson has a first-hand insight into such rivalry and how it plays out in the team.
The teammate rivalry between Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott reminds @JimmieJohnson of the battles he used to have with @JeffGordonWeb. #RaceHub pic.twitter.com/ri3A56l9GM
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) October 6, 2022
Johnson spoke about how such situations are dealt with at HMS. He spoke in high praise of the owner Rick and the respect that the different teams have within the organization.
“My hero was now my car owner, and also the competitor that I’d race against on track. But, I can’t say what Jeff [Gordon] and I went through is the first time Hendrick Motorsports has gone through that.
“Internally, there’s a culture that knows how to balance that delicate environment that’s there. Mr. Hendrick is the best person in the world to handle those environments, too.
“I do know one thing that does happen at Hendrick Motorsports is a great deal of respect amongst the teams. And it starts from Rick and works its way down. So yes there might be some heated moments and you look across the hall at your competitor but there’s a great deal of respect, that’s the glue that really holds it together.”
Having won the last two championships between them, Larson and Elliott are competing for their second one. For now, Elliott has the upper hand as he has 5 wins compared to Larson’s 2 and he also leads the points standings. But having seen Larson dominate last season, it would be unwise to rule him out.
Both of them are fierce competitors and it would be interesting to see how this rivalry will turn out.