In an interview earlier this week with NBC Sports, Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson took some perceived shots at Hendrick Motorsports by insinuating that the racing team typically sees late-season success by playing fast and loose with the rules. He even threw out the word “cheating.”
The driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro probably didn’t think his comments would end up make headlines. But they did. So, in a tweet sent Tuesday night, Larson apologized to Team Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, clarifying that he was only joking.
Larson’s controversial comments came in response to a question about whether or not Larson thought Chip Ganassi Racing had the best Chevrolet team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It’s a valid contention, at least thus far in the 2019 season, considering that Larson placed 12th at Atlanta Motor Speedway and his teammate Kurt Busch placed third, while the best finish for Hendrick was 15th place. Here’s what Larson had to say about that:
“Atlanta is so different than any other track that we’re going to go the rest of the year that you can’t jump to conclusions off one week. I feel like Hendrick just plays games in a way with NASCAR. I feel like they always start the year off kind of bad to like show NASCAR that they’re being nice and cooperating and following the rules and stuff, and then it gets a couple of months in, and then they start cheating and finding some speed.”
“So I don’t know, but it was satisfying. It’s been satisfying the last few years to be considered the top Chevy team. I think that’s something that this race shop prides itself on, but we don’t need to just be the best Chevy team. We want to be the best team out there.”
Now, while Larson may have been joking with his comments, the idea of “cheating” in NASCAR isn’t as cut and dry as it might be in other sports. Most NASCAR drivers and analysts would tell you that. Take Dale Earnhardt Jr., for instance.
Junior — who spent the last decade or so of his career with Hendrick — assured Larson that “racers know what you meant” regarding his comments. And there you have it.